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Dec. 12, 1940 – Jan. 2, 2021
Pauline Fox Ward Obit pic
Pauline Fox was born on December 12, 1940, via midwife in her grandmother’s home in rural Vian, Oklahoma. Her mother was there visiting. She spent her first few days in the top drawer of a bureau as there was no crib. Her mother brought her home to California. Her parents, Allen and Marie Fox, had emigrated to California from Oklahoma in the late thirties. Her father worked in agriculture and after WWII began raising egg laying chickens. After some years, he decided to have his own ranch. The family moved to Oakdale. Pauline entered Oakdale High School as a freshman in 1954, graduating in 1958. After graduation, she married her first husband, Louie Bjorge, in 1959. They relocated to the Bay area as Louie went to training, then employment, with IBM. Daughter Torri was born in 1960 and daughter Stephanie in 1962.
Her marriage ended in 1969 and she went to work for Blue Cross in Concord. After a few years she moved back to Stanislaus County, living in Modesto. There she met and married her second husband, Ben Hall, but that marriage was short lived. She had obtained a cosmetologist license in 1959 but never used it. After her return to Modesto, her mother opened a salon in Riverbank. Pauline did not care for the work, looked at other jobs, and finally went to work for the Stanislaus County Municipal Court as a file clerk. There she met Michael Ward, a local attorney. They began dating and moved in together in 1984. Pauline was offered a job as head clerk in the Tuolumne County Justice Court in Tuolumne City. She accepted the position, and she and Michael moved to MiWuk Village. Michael relocated his law office to Sonora.
Pauline was a woman of many talents. She loved to go hunting and fishing. She was greatly into arts and crafts. Michael built a studio for her where she created stained glass odd items and windows. She left her job with the Justice Court to open her own business in Tuolumne City, aptly called Foxy Expressions, where she wanted to market her stained glass but instead did screen printing, including caps, T-shirts, jackets and other clothing, and signs. She and Michael married in 1988. She moved her business into Sonora and was in business there until 1991. Pauline was into Halloween in a big way creating costumes that often won prizes. She loved the American Graffiti scene.
She and Michael owned a 1958 Edsel and later a 1959 Ford Fairlane retractable hardtop. She would dress the part with poodle skirt, scarf, tight sweater, and penny loafers. When Hot August Nights began in 1987, she and Michael travelled to Reno for the first ten years enjoying the music, parades, poker runs, and shows. Even a prom one year.
In 1990, Michael decided to run for the newly created Dept 2 of the Tuolumne County Superior Court. Pauline managed his campaign including buttons, caps, bumper stickers and a spectacular roadside sign campaign with screen printed signs 4x8 and installed on literally every road in the county.
Michael was beaten soundly. Pauline asked Michael if there was some other kind of judge he might become. He told her there were administrative judges but he did not know how they were selected or appointed. Pauline went to work, contacted state agencies, got applications, sent Michael to interviews. In 1992 the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board offered him a position with its Fresno Office of Appeals. He accepted and he and Pauline moved to Fresno that year. Her crochet tablecloths that took a year to complete won prizes in the Fresno County Fair.
Then in 1997 her parents were diagnosed with Alzheimers. They had moved back to Oklahoma in the early nineties. Pauline got them to come back to Oakdale and was their caretaker, visiting her father in the Riverbank Nursing Home and managing her worsening mother. Both died in the early 2000’s. She and Michael moved to Oakdale in 1997, later purchasing the home in town where she lived until her death. At the Oakdale home Pauline decided she wanted a koi pond. She and her husband took a class and learned how to build one which she soon on completion filled with colorful koi. She formed a Koi Club in Oakdale with other pond owners. She became a Docent with the McHenry Mansion. She got the idea of establishing a Red Hats Chapter with women she met in the Mansion and others in Oakdale. She became the Queen Mother of Red Hattitude, active until 2019.
In 2006 Pauline spearheaded the creation of the Oakdale Community Garden Club. She wanted to work hands on in garden projects in the community. They had several small projects and then took over the downtown flower pots. She negotiated a deal with city of Oakdale to provide water and funds for a spring planting (40 plus pots). She wanted to have year round planting with red and white cyclamens in the winter. The club raised money and went to work. They also constructed floats for the Rodeo Parade, winning several ribbons from 2011 to 2015. Finally a bit worn out over the years, the club disbanded in 2016.
Somehow in her busy life she and her husband travelled to Greece, several cruises, China, Peru, Ireland, Istanbul, Paris, Belize, Bahamas, and even Cuba when it opened up in 2016. Also annual trips to Honolulu.
By 2019 she was beginning to show signs of dementia and basically retreated to life at home with her husband as caretaker. By early January, 2021 her care had become a bit too difficult. Community Hospice stepped in to help with evaluation, social worker assistance, a hospital bed in the front room. She was comfortable but on January 22, 2021, she passed away in the night. It is fair to say that she had filled her bucket list by then.
Pauline was the last of her own immediate family. She is survived by her husband, Michael, daughter Torri and husband Johan Bergstrom, daughter Stephanie, grandchildren Jeremiah Lobaugh (Hailey, son Noah) and granddaughter Tiffany Byrd as well as sister-in-law Susan Fox, her nephew Michael (Martia, daughters Catherine, Elizabeth) and niece Patricia (Joel, son Milo). Family and friends will gather for a celebration of life as soon as pandemic conditions allow. A notice will be placed in The Leader when appropriate.
The Oakdale (Calif.) Leader
The Riverbank (Calif.) News
Feb. 17, 2021