Caroline Gilstrap passed away quietly on November 2, 2012 at Royal Gardens in Clovis at the age of 91. Visitation will be held on Thursday, November 8, 2012 from 4:00 to 8:00pm at Thomas-Robinson Funeral Home located at 2345 McCall Ave in Selma. A service and celebration of Caroline’s life are set for Friday, November 9, 2012, 10:00am at the First Christian Church located in Selma at 2026 Arrants St. with a graveside service following at Floral Memorial Park in Selma.
Caroline was born in Kirk, CO, on November 10, 1920 to Margaret Klassen Braun and Peter Braun. She graduated from 8th grade in Joes, Colorado and Reedley High School in 1938. She took business courses at Reedley Community College graduating with an AA degree 1940, and then attended Central California Commercial College. Caroline accepted a position in early 1941 as secretary/bookkeeper at the San Joaquin Valley Poultry Producers Association (PPA) in Fresno where she met her future husband, Frank. They were married in November of 194l.
Frank was drafted into the Army in January 1942, and like many spouses, Caroline spent the early war years moving so she could be close to her husband. In 1944, they were blessed with their first son and Caroline moved to Reedley to live with her parents. Twin girls joined the family in mid-1945. Husband Frank was discharged from the Army in late 1945 and returned to work at PPA. In 1946, Frank’s avid interest in poultry production took the family to a small ranch in north Fresno where he began a poultry and egg production operation. They had joined the Belmont Christian Church early in their marriage and after Frank’s WWII service they reactivated their membership and over the next 30 years provided leadership and participated in many church activities. A second son joined the family in 1947. In 1952 they moved to a poultry ranch in southeast Fresno and Frank began a business known throughout the San Joaquin Valley as Frank’s Egg Ranch. Caroline was active with her family in Cub Scouts, Brownies, Girl Scouts, multiple church organizations. A third daughter joined the family in 1953. Also in 1953, Caroline won 1st prize at the Fresno County Fair for her home-baked bread and angel food cake. In 1959, Caroline and her husband built and began a second, 72,000 bird and 600-egg cases/week poultry ranch in far southeast Fresno. They sold their poultry operations and left the industry in 1968, and Caroline went to work as a stenographer with the Fresno County Assessor’s Office. She was soon promoted to Secretary to the Assessor, a position she held until her retirement in 1985.
In 1978 Caroline and husband moved to Selma, and in retirement, they traveled often and continued to enjoy church and family activities. They also transferred their church membership to the First Christian Church of Selma where Caroline joined the Christian Women’s Fellowship, sang in the choir, and served as secretary to the church board and as an Elder and Treasurer. Following Frank’s death in 1994, Caroline did volunteer work in Selma, supporting the Selma American Legion Auxiliary as a member and the Selma Community Hospital Auxiliary as a worker in the gift and thrift shops. In 2006 Caroline sold her home in Selma and moved to Clovis to be closer to family, and she joined the Clovis Senior Choir. Caroline was a lifetime avid reader, and always enjoyed traveling with family, singing, crocheting and playing Bunco.
Caroline was preceded in death by her husband Frank Gilstrap, Sr., son Kenneth Gilstrap, her mother and father, and 3 brothers and 3 sisters. Survivors include her son Frank, Jr. and wife Pat of Hearne Texas; daughters Marilyn and husband Jim McLaughlin of Clovis, Carilyn Weber of Fresno, and Debbie Paul and husband Steve of Templeton; 6 grandchildren, 7 great grandchildren, many nieces and nephews, and many friends. Caroline’s family wants to thank Royal Gardens and Optimal Hospice for the excellent care given to their Mom. In lieu of flowers, remembrances in Caroline’s name may be given to the First Christian Church, 2026 Arrants St., Selma, CA 93662.