Four women who have contributed to the history and heritage of Blaine County have been named to the 2019 Heritage Court, which is in its 16th year. The annual program is organized by the Blaine County Historical Museum in Hailey.
Verla Goitiandia has been named to the court by the Blaine County Historical Museum.
A fourth-generation native of Blaine County, Goitiandia has spent much of her life working with and for children. She grew up on the Susie Q Ranch east of Picabo, one of 11 children, surrounded by other farms owned by family members. She remembers it as a more relaxed time when kids’ problems were resolved by a chat with the sheriff, and the school buses were a form of public transportation that carried adults and groceries on their routes.
After almost two years at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Goitiandia worked briefly for Sun Valley Co. and then spent 20 years managing the kitchen at Hemingway Elementary School. She and her staff learned that kids nursing loose teeth preferred soft foods like mac and cheese and mashed potatoes and gravy. In the winter, she volunteered to help out with the ski program and learned to ski with the kids on Dollar Mountain.
Raising her three boys led to involvement with 4-H, where she led groups in cooking, sewing, gardening and, later, archery. All those activities help develop discipline and an appreciation for safety. Goitiandia is still involved with 4-H, but she is also on the board of the historical museum and is a regular poll worker during elections. She remembers that when she was a child, most people voted in the evening when the farm work was over and everyone enjoyed the social get-togethers at the Gannett Post Office.
The city of Ketchum has named Connie Grabow to this year’s court.
A New Englander who was happily living in Michigan, Grabow moved to the Wood River Valley in 1980 when her husband, Leonard, unexpectedly said he’d like to improve his skiing. She immediately became involved in the valley’s active cultural life. For years, she was on the board of The Community Library, helping especially with fundraising, and was on the board of Moritz Hospital, where she delivered meals to patients and helped make wreaths and decorations for the annual fundraising ball. For two years, she worked with a summer program of The Hunger Coalition. She found the tricky part was making sure the kids took at least one vegetable and didn’t just make a beeline to the desserts.
Some of Grabow’s favorite memories as a member of the Sun Valley Ski Club are of helping out groups of visiting skiers, especially when they were mentally or physically challenged. Each Sun Valley helper was responsible for one athlete and would provide transportation, housing and enthusiastic cheering during the races. An adventure from her early days here was working with a BLM program to preserve ancient Indian pictographs. She and her teammates climbed to the sites and copied the artwork as best they could, creating a record of a fragile past.
The current blossoming of the arts in the valley gives her great pleasure, especially the Sun Valley Opera, the Community Orchestra, jazz concerts, the film festival, live theater, the Writers Conference and the Summer Symphony.
Judy Peterson, of Gannett, is this year’s choice of the Blaine County Fair Board.
Peterson was born in California, where her Idaho-born father was building ships for World War II. The family moved back to Idaho when she was 2, and she’s lived here ever since. Her mother died when Judy was 26, and she helped raise her three younger siblings as her own family was growing.
She and her late husband, Tom Peterson, from Carey, raised their four children on a farm on Baseline Road. They kept busy tending chickens, ducks, geese, horses, cows and rabbits—a real Old MacDonald’s farm. Tom also had a wood-hauling business, so there were trips to Pole Creek with the trailer to cut wood with some of the kids while the rest stayed on the farm and tended the animals. She learned to fill the freezer with provisions and developed skills in making jewelry, greeting cards and needlework.
In addition to raising her children, Peterson has had a busy working life—driving a county school bus for 13 years, cooking and cleaning for local families and working in restaurants, notably Hailey’s Blue Spruce, one of the first local restaurants with a modern vibe. The menu was fresh and the owner cut his own meat in the back room. It was a morning hangout for local guys. One time one of the regulars complained that there was a fly in his coffee. “Don’t tell them—they’ll all want one,” the spirited waitress joked.
Peterson’s children and most of her 10 grandchildren still live in the county. This close-knit family has been through good times and hard times and still stays strong.
The city of Bellevue has named Pamela Rayborn to the court this year.
Rayborn was born in the Sun Valley Lodge on a snowy February day to a mother who was the first female valedictorian of the Albion Normal School and a father who was in the Air Force and was assigned to bases around the world. She went to schools in Germany, Delaware, Utah and other places, but always thought of the Gem streets neighborhood in Ketchum, where her father built a house, as her childhood home, and she graduated from the high school in Hailey. After she married her husband Steve in 1965, she raised her two daughters while managing the family trailer park on River Street in Hailey and running a daycare center there. They now live in Bellevue.
Rayborn’s life has been one of adventure. When Steve worked on Baldy for Sun Valley, she worked as a ski instructor and ski patroller on Rotarun and Dollar; when he worked in logging, she and the girls spent the summers camping and hiking in the forests of central Idaho. Several summers were spent floating the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. That led to a memorable trip down the Grand Canyon with a party of 10. In town, she ran the trailer park and cleaned houses, loving the flexible hours that gave her time with the kids. When they sold the park about 15 years ago, they developed rental properties in Woodside. Loving to dance with Steve, she was named the Queen of the Silver Dollar. So, the Heritage Court is not her first brush with royalty.
Now they spend four months or so a year in Mexico, a country they have learned to love after many winters in Baja and Mazatlan and a memorable tour down the Gulf Coast to the Yucatan. Though her Spanish is at the beginner’s stage, she appreciates the warmth of the people, their rich history and the many opportunities they find to dance there. Nevertheless, when they return here in the spring, crest Timmerman Hill and see the Wood River Valley before them, Rayborn said she tears up. She’s home.
Heritage Court events
The season of the Heritage Court begins with an invitation-only tea for former and current honorees in late May, hosted by The Community Library. Then, Sunday, June 9, will see the gala coronation at the Liberty Theatre in Hailey with flowers, entertainment and refreshments. Everyone is invited to honor the ladies who have contributed so much to the valley. The Senior Connection in Hailey will honor the ladies (and ladies from past years) at a luncheon in early August, and they will participate in summer parades. The museum’s website includes stories and pictures of everyone honored since the beginning of the Heritage Court in 2004 (bchistoricalmuseum.org).