Howard Vassar – Obituary

Howard Vassar, 77, of Polson, Montana and formerly of Trona, California, passed away June 6, 2014 at his home after a long battle with cancer.

Howard was born on September 24, 1936 in Amarillo, Texas to William and Willie Vassar. He grew up in southern California between Trona and Bishop. He worked for his dad sacking salt and driving trucks until he was drafted into the Army serving in the 101st Airborne, Screaming Eagles.

On September 11th, 1961, he married Deanna Marie Garner, settling in Trona building a family and a successful equipment contracting business until he retired 1982 and they moved to Polson, Montana.
Howard helped build and sponsor little league football in Trona, as well as sponsoring the high school football team. He was one of the founders of the first motorcycle clubs in southern California-The Sidewinders.

Howard enjoyed many outdoor activities; such as, motorcycling, dune buggies, water skiing, horseback riding, rodeos, roping, hunting and fishing. His one true passion that he developed over his life time was the love of trap shooting. He won the prestigious Butte Rod & Gun Club Medal in 1999 and attended the ATA World Championship in Vandalia, Ohio with his team mates in 2003. In his career he shot 84, 125 single targets, 93, 800 handicap targets and 65, 250 doubles targets for a grand total of 243, 275 registered targets since 1988.

He is preceded in death by his father William Charles Vassar, mother Willie Lee Vassar, step-father Clifford C. Jones; sisters Margie Conrad and Juanita Vassar and his brothers Edward and Bobby Vassar.
He is survived by his wife Deanna Vassar; children Renee Morgan (Larry Morgan), Radean Vassar (Ryan Boden), Howard ‘Howdy’ Vassar (Debbie Sargent-Vassar) and Tina Vassar-Buser (Mike Buser); seven grandchildren Chad Morgan, Jill (Morgan) Marlow, Aaron Morgan, Christopher Vassar, Caitlyn Vassar, Amber Caraway and Rainee Vassar; eight great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild. Howard is also survived by his brother John Vassar and numerous nieces and nephews that he loved dearly.

A celebration of his life will be held Friday, June 13th at 11:00 am at Grogan Funeral Home and Crematory. Burial will follow at Lakeview Cemetery. – See more at:

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Freddie Carrasco – Class of 1958

Freddie Carrasco, Class of ’58 passed away May 20, 2014. No details.

George Sherman adds:

Freddie was a great guy. His sister, Josephine (Carrasco) Sepulveda, was in my class (1956) and passed away a few years ago. He married Monica Wheeler of the Trona High School class of 1957. I believe they were living in Ridgecrest.

Bill Schuette adds:

I am so sorry to hear about Freddie.

He was in my Trona Class from the second grade on. He was the best speaker in Miss Delores M. Sandeen second grade class. I worked with Freddie at Van Dyke Motors during the last couple of years at Trona High School. He was a man of many desires and passions, and was always friendly and considerate of others.

This is a great loss for the class of ’58.

A message from George Sherman about the SVHS

If you haven’t already heard the news, it is something that you will be pleased to learn. The Society is buying another building, mainly to protect their precious historical Searles Valley archives from the possibility of being completely destroyed by fire. Nearly all of those materials are stored in a 1917 vintage, highly flammable, wooden building that has no fire suppression. It contains thousands of photographs and negatives and tens of thousands of pages of historical documents, all of them relevant to the history of Searles Valley. The entire treasure could be wiped out with one fire, leaving behind very little documentation left of our beloved history.

The building they want to buy is the Credit Union Building, which has two fire-proof safes, one of which is a large walk-in. In addition to providing protection of the historical photos and documents, the new building will provide additional space for researchers to work while exploring our history. It will also free up three rooms in the Old Guest House Museum for more displays of our historical artifacts.

The Society has raised $27,000 to make the purchase, but they still need about $20,000 more from personal donations by people like us. This seemed like a huge amount to me until I realized that, if each of us on this e-mail list gave $200, we would be providing a little more than what is needed. With that in mind, I have sent a check for $200 to the Society as my donation. I’m not asking that every one else do the same, but would greatly appreciate any amount you can donate to this very worthy cause. Don’t send it to me. Please send it directly to the Society at Searles Valley Historical Society; P. O. Box 630; Trona, CA 93592. Be sure to indicate that it is a donation to the Searles Valley Historical Society Building Fund. Since the Society is a 501c(3) non-rofit corporation, all of your donation will be tax deductible. Any amount you can donate will be greatly appreciated by me and by the hard-working volunteers of the Society.

Much love,


Trona, Bloody Trona A book review by Mike Rhodes

I have meet a lot of lawyers who work on social and economic justice issues but have never met one quite like Paul Henry Abram. I look forward to his visit to Fresno on Friday, when he will appear in a benefit for listener sponsored radio station KFCF (see details below). Abram has written an extraordinary account of his experience representing the union members in ILWU local 35 who were on strike in Trona Ca in 1970. Most lawyers are more cautious (some would say conservative) than the activists they represent, but Abram gains the trust of the workers by being as militant as they are and willing to share the risks needed to win.

In the first couple of days after Abram arrives in Trona, he describes scenes that are neither conservative or nonviolent. The subtitle of the book is “A Revolution in Microcosm.” The strike against the Kerr-McGee plant in the Mohave Desert saw the workers and their legal counsel cutting electrical power to the plant, dynamiting communications systems, and “kidnapping” scab employees. I kept thinking, as I read these accounts, that it is good the statute of limitations has expired on these remarkable actions. The kidnapping charges, which Abram claims were all a big misunderstanding, were resolved in court – you will have to read the book to see what the judge and jury decided. To read the complete review go to: Trona, Bloody Trona  A book review by Mike Rhodes

Photo Essay: Searles Valley Minerals Plant Tour, Trona

Since Trona is essentially a company town for the Searles Valley Minerals operation, which harvests minerals from Searles Dry Lake and processes them at three local plants, no visit to Trona would be complete without a tour of one of the plants.

To read the rest of this photo essay by  go to Photo Essay: Searles Valley Minerals Plant Tour, Trona