For the love of community |

For the love of community

by Gina Gigli

California’s least-populated county, Alpine County, was enriched in 1973, when the Bank of America moved two employees to the small bank in Markleeville. Actually, the new manager and the operations officer of the branch were the only employees.

Skip Veatch transferred from the Bank of America in San Francisco, and his wife Edie, who had worked in Vallejo for Wells Fargo Bank, was hired to be his assistant.

“Before we came here, it was my dream to live some day in the mountains where I could be close to outdoor activities like hunting and fishing,” Skip explains. “The contrast between the bustling San Francisco bank and the low-key Markleeville branch was unbelievable.”

Edie adds, “We love the scenery, the people and the opportunity given to us to participate in community activities.”

Participate is the keyword to their 34-year residency in Woodfords. Next to the bank (now the Alpine County Visitor Center) was Brown’s Motel (present-day J. Marklee Toll Station.) Motel owners Chuck and Dorothy Johnson led a good example of volunteerism by hosting the town’s annual Halloween party in their motel’s spacious backyard.

“I consider Dorothy Johnson as my mentor,” Edie said.

Edie has served on the volunteer boards of the Mothers’ Club and the Alpine Children’s Center and chaired the Juvenile Justice Commission for many years.

Skip has volunteered for the boards of the historical society, fish and game, Woodfords Fire Department and was in the first group of volunteers trained as EMTs in the county. For 25 years, he volunteered to be a hunter safety instructor. He also is a member of the Alpine Trio, providing musical entertainment for local groups for many years.

After three years as bank manager, Skip decided to follow a different career path and was hired by then-sheriff Stu Merrill with the CETA program, which paid for his post training and salary for two years.

Skip claims that among his many accomplishments, he is the most proud of the times he has been elected. He was Alpine County Sheriff for 12 years, and he’s well into his first term of being Alpine County Supervisor for District Two.

Along with other volunteers, Edie worked to open the Alpine Children’s Center in 1980. Jo Daugherty, Edie and Skip initiated their first Christmas food and gift drive for families-in-need. They continued the drive until 1993. Edie feels that her Alpine Kids program, which began in 1981 with all volunteers, is her best accomplishment.

Always involved in the Alpine Children’s Center, Edie was employed there as financial officer and executive director for a number of years. For 16 years, she went from door-to-door as the “Avon Lady.”

Above all, the Veatchs consider their family circle to be their most important treasure. Edie’s mother, Thelma Burnside, has lived with them for three years. The Veatchs adopted four-year-old Christopher in 1978, and daughter Tammy Shannen was born in 1984. Christopher and his wife Ananda now have two daughters, Ayala and Athena. Tammy Shannen gave birth to Morgana-le-Fae in August of 2003. Edie and Skip adopted this granddaughter in August of 2005. As they tell it, “It’s fun. Of course we have our ups and downs, just like other parents do, but Morgana-le-Fae is a sweetheart!”

When the Acorn fire destroyed their Woodfords home in July of 1987, they were grateful that the family survived. While their own house was burning, Edie helped make sandwiches for firefighters. Skip traded his fireman suit for his sheriff’s uniform to conduct an evacuation of residents. These former bankers have become the quintessential volunteers.