Life’s a blessing for Gardnerville resident |

Life’s a blessing for Gardnerville resident

by Laura Brunzlick , Staff Writer

Working with her husband of 44 years at her side has always been a positive force in Jeannine Court’s life.

Court, 68, worked alongside Ed in the flower shops they operated in Lake Tahoe for 22 years and the two worked as a team to save wild horses during a harsh winter that struck the Carson Valley in 1969.

These days, Court is the floral manager at the Gardnerville Raley’s supermarket.

“I love my job and meeting the people,” she said.

Her customers at Raley’s are everyday people, but Court, of Gardnerville, once made floral arrangements for the rich and famous.

While running three flower shops in Stateline from 1973 to 1995, Court worked alongside her husband making floral arrangements for the likes of Liberace and Frank Sinatra.

The floral shops were located at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, Caesars Tahoe and the Sahara Casino, now the Horizon Casino Resort.

“I did stage props for Diana Ross and John Denver,” said Court.

The couple’s daughters, Dawn Riddle and Danelle Wendler, helped out at the shops.

“They are excellent floral designers,” said Court.

Dawn Riddle, 41, lives in Woodfords, Calif., and has an 11-year-old son, Hunter.

Danelle Wendler, 35, lives in the Johnson Lane area and has a 5-year-old daughter, Mikelia, and a 5-month old daughter, Marleas.

The Courts helped create the Pine Nut Mustang Association in response to the harsh winter of 1969.

With two feet of snow blanketing the ground, a group of 70 mustangs in the Pine Nut Mountains east of Gardnerville were unable to reach their food supply and were in danger of starvation.

Owners of Lake Tahoe Helicopters Inc. during the 1960s and 1970s, the Courts provided service to utility companies and governmental agencies such as the United States Forest Service and the Nevada Division of Forestry.

After learning of the peril facing the horses from Max Jones, a Carson Valley rancher, Jeannine and Ed Court volunteered their aircraft for hay drops.

The first attempt, using a helicopter, failed.

“The rotor noise scared the horses,” said Court.

Dropping the hay bales from a fixed-wing, short-field landing and take-off aircraft proved more successful.

From March to June, hundreds of hay bales were dropped. As the snow receded, the horses recovered their strength and made their way out of the Pine Nut Mountains.

Out of 70 animals, two died.

Court waged her own battle for survival after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1994.

“I had a mastectomy and underwent trials with Tamoxifen,” she said.

Tamoxifen, a prescription medication used to fight breast cancer, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000.

Court is now cancer-free.

After living in Stateline for 40 years, the Courts moved to Gardnerville in 1995.

“We had the lease for our last flower shop up for renewal when I got cancer,” she said.

“I didn’t know what would happen. We moved to the Valley to see.”

After a full recovery, Court got a job as the floral manager at Raley’s.

Five years later, she stills enjoys her job and loves living in Douglas County.

“My life has been a blessing,” she said.

n Laura Brunzlick can be e-mailed at