Annually, around the first of the year, we review the top 10 stories affecting Idyllwild of the prior year and also list all those we know we lost in the prior year in “Flowers of the Forest.”
2018 proved to be a horrific year for many of us because of the Cranston Fire. But most of us — particularly those of us who did not lose homes — returned, gathering ourselves, loved ones and friends, seeking solace in the resources of a small community who comes together in crisis.
Besides the devastation and stress of this fire, we lost more community or former community members than we have in several years.
Having been a part of this community since 1978 and compiling this list for all but three years from that first time in 1999 — 20 years now — for me, and maybe also for you, reading these names brings back floods of memories of those whom I knew, as well as what they meant to me personally and the community, too.
I will mention just two here and apologize in advance if your loved one is left out. These are just my own personal insights.
George Kretsinger died last week. He wasn’t just associated with Kretsinger Plumbing, as many might think, especially if you’re a recent resident.
The Kretsingers go back a long way in Idyllwild. The first mention of George was back in the July 10, 1947, TC issue where the Mounted Music Makers were rehearsing in the Kretsingers’ front room with little George belting out a song at the top of his lungs.
George wasn’t just content to take over his father’s plumbing business. He instilled himself in this community as an active volunteer.
He and I served as charter members of the Idyllwild Community Fund board. But long before that, George’s name turns up in Town Crier files time and time again over the decades volunteering for fun and tragedy — both at local fundraising events such as organizing golf tournaments and the Timber Festival, and serving as an Idyllwild Fire call firefighter. He served with the Idyllwild Lions Club and as an Idyllwild Water District director for many years.
He was a fixture in our community and helped improve it.
Nearly everyday, I would look up to see Chuck Clayton walking into the front office to do faxing or copies with Mandy. I still look up, still expecting to see him. We joked that Mandy was his secretary as he seemed to conduct much of his business in his truck and at her desk.
Chuck, the building contractor, also imbedded himself for the betterment of this community. He served as a volunteer in youth sports and education activities throughout the time his children were growing up here.
One time when the newly formed Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council found it was $200 short of the funds needed to file its nonprofit status, Chuck stood up in the meeting and suggested everybody in the audience donate $10. A hat was passed and the money was raised. MCFSC is an important fixture in our community today.
These two souls will be greatly missed here.