Walter R. Manfrina | 1914 - 2014 | Obituary

Walter R. Manfrina
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Walter R. Manfrina

Born: February 04, 1914
Died: August 06, 2014

Walter R. Manfrina, age 100, died Wednesday, August 6, 2014. Per his request no services will be held. His big celebration was his 100th birthday. Private inurnment will be held at a later date at Lompoc Evergreen Cemetery.

Born in Willows, California, February 4, 1914 to Lorenzo and Erminia (Guidotti) Manfrina, both natives of Switzerland who came directly to Lompoc in 1891 and 1905. They were dairying people on the Honda/Sudden area, then farmers in the lower valley. During a brief stay in Willows Walter was born there instead of Lompoc where they returned six months after his birth. Except for two years in San Pedro where he was employed by the U.S. Maritime Commission welding on Victory and Liberty ships in 1940 to 1944, then into the Army Infantry 1st Division to 1946, he has lived his whole life in Lompoc.

He attended Maple country school as a child living on his parents' small farm on San Pasqual Road. It was up before dawn with his brothers and sisters to milk the cows, do the other chores, then eat breakfast, get ready for school, walk the three miles there, and back home again after school, change clothes and do more chores.

When the family lost the ranch in the Depression in 1927 they moved to town and Walt just had to walk across the street to high school, graduating in 1932.

From 1930 to 1932 he worked summers for Burpee Seeds, pollenating, hoeing weeds and working on the harvesters. In 1933 he began full time in field work, harvesting, tractor driving and later was in charge of roguing, greenhouse growing, and manager of mill operations, all three at one time. His experience at home and at Burpees gave him the name of "Jack of all Trades.”

He left Lompoc to go to welding school in Los Angeles, and helped build Liberty ships on Terminal Island in San Pedro. He and Myra Huyck, a hometown girl then living and working in Los Angeles, married in March of 1942, making their home in Long Beach. They celebrated their 72nd anniversary this year. In July, 1943, their first son Barry was born. Drafted at age 30 into the Army Infantry, Walt took Myra and seven month old Barry to stay with her parents in Lompoc, Lloyd and Marie Huyck, until his return from Europe in 1946.

In that war as a foot soldier, he participated in the Battles of the Bulge and Hurtgen Forest, being hospitalized twice for fractured ribs from a mortar shell blast and again frozen feet from standing too long a watch in cold and snow. He was set to go to the Pacific when the war ended.

He returned to W. Atlee Burpee Co. as greenhouse manager. Their second son Robert was born in 1947 and the next year the Manfrinas moved into their new home on South D Street.

In 1952 Walt became manager of the Burpee Seed Company's Floradale Farms operation, moving to the manager's home on the farm where they entertained seedsmen from the world over; living there until his retirement in 1979, then returning to their home in town.

As a charter member of the Lompoc Valley Historical Society, he worked on their projects since 1964. He had many other hobbies; restoring old cars and buggies, making barbecue pits and wood splitters and crafting birdhouses.

He, through the years, was a member of the American Legion Post 211 since 1946, the Lompoc Valley Club, the Lompoc High School Alumni Assn, of which he is a member of their Hall of Fame and was the oldest living graduate of Lompoc High School living in Lompoc. He served on the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury in 1967, was Master of the Lompoc Lodge No. 262, F & AM in 1958, was a board member of the Palestine Chapter Lompoc DeMolay in the early 1960's, was a DeMolay Dad and Rainbow for Girls Dad in those years, was on the board of the Lompoc Future Farmers and an Honorary Chapter Member and was president of the Lompoc Mexican Council when the farmers of the valley had the Bracero program here in the 1950's. He was president of the Lompoc Rotary Club in 1961 and of the Pioneer Society in 1967, a member of the Lompoc Model T Club from its inception in 1936 to the 1950 era winning the first cross-country race in 1936. He was a floral judge for many years at Lompoc, Santa Barbara County and Pomona Fairs, the World Flower show in Los Angeles and the Santa Barbara National Horse and Flower Show. He served 32 years on the Cemetery Board, 1972 to 2003, and he and Myra were honored to be Grand Marshals of the 2004 Lompoc Flower Festival Parade.

He is survived by his wife of 72 years, Myra, sons and daughters-in-law, Barry and Debbie Manfrina and Bob and Jan Manfrina of Lompoc, granddaughters Deena Manfrina Michaelly of San Diego, Donica Manfrina Moir of Greeley, Colorado, and Jodi Manfrina Torres of Lompoc, four great granddaughters, Loran and Riley Moir, Reece Torres and Madison Michaelly, two great grandsons, Lucas Moir and Jaden Torres.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his sisters Irma Scolari and Rena Ferguson, his brothers R.D. Manfrina and Joe Manfrina, and his grandson Bryan Manfrina.

Donations may be made in his name to the Lompoc Valley Historical Society, Inc. PO Box 88, Lompoc CA 93438, or to a favorite charity.

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