Gwendolyn Leatrice Phares
28 septiembre , 1921 – 23 febrero , 2020
Lifelong Merced resident Gwen Phares passed away peacefully in her sleep on February 23rd at the age of 98. Gwen was born in Merced on September 28, 1921 to Robert and Ethel (Lord) Dalziel. Gwen was a descendant of Mariposa County pioneers Samuel and Ann Lord. She grew up on her family's McSwain area chicken ranch with her older sister Geri Dalziel Buchan. During her childhood she was surrounded by a large family, including grandparents, aunts and uncles, and many cousins with whom she was very close to for her entire life. Almost every summer of her childhood she camped in Yosemite National Park with her extended family, often riding to the park on the Yosemite Valley Railroad using free railroad passes given to her father who was the railroad's carpenter for over two decades. Gwen graduated from Merced High School in 1939 and UC Berkeley in 1943. After graduation she worked for the Pacific Overseas Air Command in Oakland, where she and many other young women helped keep track of the production and shipment of aircraft parts needed for fighting WWII in the Pacific. She began a long career as an elementary school teacher in 1944. She took a summer job in Yosemite National Park in 1946 and shortly thereafter met Ted Phares at an open-air dance in Yosemite Village. They married in August of that year and shared a life together until his passing in 2006, just a few months short of what would have been their 60th wedding anniversary. After their marriage, Gwen and Ted moved to Southern California, where Ted had been living and working for Universal Studios since his discharge from the US Navy. With the return of millions of servicemen from the war, they had trouble finding a house to rent at first, but there was plenty of demand for elementary school teachers. Gwen got a job at a school in Sherman Oaks and taught there until 1950 when her daughter Blithe was born. Gwen had wanted to return to the Merced area where her parents, sister Geri, and extended family still lived, and they did so shortly after Blithe's birth, building a house in the Ragsdale neighborhood. Gwen and Ted's second daughter Cindy was born in Merced in 1951. Ragsdale was a neighborhood of many young families at the time and the girls grew up with many friends to play with. After Blithe and Cindy began elementary school, Gwen went back to work, teaching for many years at Planada Elementary, and later at Charles Wright in Merced. She retired in 1979. Ted operated Builder's Hardware and Electric in Merced until his retirement in 1981. Both Gwen and Ted greatly enjoyed traveling, and especially after their retirement they made many memorable trips around the US in their RV. Gwen loved spending time with her family and hosted countless holiday celebrations in their home. She also visited regularly with her many first cousins. She particularly enjoyed being a grandmother and her grandchildren spent countless hours at her home playing in the backyard, creating art, and playing innumerable games of Monopoly, canasta, and Uno. Some of her grandchildren's best memories are of the many trips she took with them to the beach during school vacations. After Ted's passing in 2006, Gwen continued to live in her family home in Ragsdale, eventually becoming one of the longest continuous residents of the neighborhood. She spent her last few years at Mission Gardens. Her children and grandchildren want to express their deep gratitude and appreciation to her caregivers at Mission Gardens, her doctors, and the staff of Hinds Hospice for the excellent and compassionate care she received during her declining years. Gwen celebrated her 98th birthday in September, surrounded by her family. One of the highlights of her final years was getting to know her great granddaughter Ashlyn, who always had a big smile for her great grandmother. Gwen was preceded in death by her husband Ted Phares and her sister Geri Buchan. She is survived by her daughter Blithe Blauert and her husband Cliff of Merced, daughter Cindy Phares of Flagstaff, AZ, grandson Adam Blauert and his wife Andrea of Merced, grandson Andrew Blauert of Culver City, and great granddaughter Ashlyn Blauert of Merced. Per Gwen's request there will be no services. Donations in her memory may be made to Hinds Hospice.