July 26, 1916 – November 1, 2018
Rachel Girton Thayer was born July 26, 1916 in Hutchinson, KS, and died in Worcester, MA during the early morning hours of All Saints Day on November 1, 2018. She would have appreciated the timing. Preceded in death by her beloved husband of 54 years, Alvin Eugene Thayer, and one of her six grandchildren, Timothy Leavenworth, she leaves behind three children (Susan Thayer Leavenworth of Salem, OR, Victor Thayer of Upland, CA, and Clyde Thayer of Upton, MA), five grandchildren (Kayla Leavenworth, Elizabeth Wrenholt, Craig Thayer, Wesley Thayer, and Laura Simons), one great grandchild (Cassandra Thayer), the spouses of her children and grandchildren who she regarded as her own, two of her twelve siblings (Chloe Girton Bryant of Independence, KS and Omar Girton of Fresno CA), and scores of others who both enriched her life and whose lives she enriched. The fourth of twelve children born to Clarence and Ruth Girton, she grew up sleeping three to a bed and learned early in life how to live peaceably in community. Approximately two months before the great market crash of October 1929, she arrived in California, having traversed Route 66 in a Studebaker sedan along with her parents, nine siblings, a bird, and a dog. She lived in the Central Valley of California until shortly after her high school graduation in 1934, relocating to Pasadena, CA to work for a physician as a nanny and housekeeper, her earnings going to pay the college tuition of her older brother, John. When John dropped out of college, she took his place, attending Pasadena College (now Point Loma Nazarene University), leaving 12 units short of receiving her degree in 1941. She then worked in banking and the defense industry before joining the U.S. Navy in September 1944. It was there, while stationed in San Diego, CA, that she started dating a Marine whom she had known as a teen, Alvin Thayer. Alvin had been sent to San Diego for discharge after having served in the Marine Corp from December 1939 until the end of the war, seeing action at Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Saipan, Tinian, and Okinawa. After marrying they commenced building both a family and a business, briefly in Tulare, CA and then for 24 years in Whitter, CA, followed by a decade in Visalia, CA, a sixteen year retirement in Cambria, CA, and then four years in Upland, CA prior to Alvin’s death on February 10, 2000. She spent the remaining 18 years of her life living with her children. Ecclesiastes 12:7 says “Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to the God who gave it.” Rachel’s family and friends will join together to celebrate her life and inter her body at Rose Hills, next to her beloved husband. Rachel’s spirit will not be so interred; it is now eternally in the presence of the God who gave it.