Willard Memories

Daughter Bettie’s memories of her Father

Stephen and Beatrice had a daughter, Bettie, whose interest in nature was inspired by her parents. She became Dr. Beatrice Willard, earning degrees from Stanford and Colorado Universities.  She was one of the first female graduates of the Yosemite Field School, a well known naturalist, author,  and Presidential Appointee to the Council on Environmental Quality.  These are excerpts from memories she wrote down provided by her attorney/executor, Don McMichaels Esq.

“Mother was very clear about the fact that they were “making history,” so she never felt badly that they lived far from the centers of culture.

In the early days, Daddy used to cover 20-35 miles a day with a backpack or burro . . . . Daddy frequently made day trips from the studio to Shadow, Iceberg, Minaret Lake, Garnet, and 1000 Island, and Duck.  Occasionally he would go down and stay in Lone Pine, then go early in the morning to the base of Whitney or to Kearsarge, or up Big Pine Creek.  Also, he worked a great deal around Mono Lake and Rush Creek, which he loved.
Often he went alone, until I got old enough to go with him . . .  these were great experiences for both of us.  We would reminisce about them during the winter.   Mother would go with him when the studio was not open.  If he was going a short distance – – less than a mile, he would put the camera on the tripod and carry it on his shoulder.  If he was going further, he would put the camera in a knapsack (not fancy) and carry the tripod separately.

It took him 10 summers to get the excellent picture of Duck, 11 for Shadow.  The day he took the one of Shadow, he told us he had sat there watching as the water went rough and smooth 13 times.  Finally, as he was packing up the camera at about 3pm, it got just the way he wanted it.

Daddy loved to tell stories to friends.  He was very enthusiastic and humorous and laughed at the jokes or stories more than anyone else.

Mother would have loved to have more children, but with the depression under way, Daddy did not dare . . . it was hard enough to earn a living for the three.  He liked children; there were several in Lone Pine that would come up regularly to see him and he was always very nice to them.  Mother, of course, loved children.

Daddy became more interested in people around him in the last five years.  He spent time visiting them.  Yes, he probably missed me; Mother claims he was very proud of my getting a PhD, a fact he never conveyed to me.  He and Mother would come to see me every year, and I usually came home for Christmas.”

Memories of  Mrs. Beatrice Willard 
Excerpts from an article by Rhea Gifford and Phil Padelford which appeared in the Nevadan on May 17, 1980; and from comments by local folks in a newsletter of April 1980 (both supplied by Genny Smith, author/editor/publisher of several books on the Eastern Sierra)

“In June 1921, Stephen met Beatrice in Idyllwild; they were married later that year. They had one child, Bettie, born in 1925.  For some years the Willards operated both a Palm Springs studio and the Mammoth Lakes summer studio in the mountain high country.  In both locations it was Beatrice Willard who sold the works and greeted customers while Stephen remained in the background, often with little daughter Bettie tagging along after him as he traipsed over the High Sierra.”

Local Newsletter
“Mrs. Willard spent fifty-one summers at the studio where they used to sell Mr. Willard’s pictures.”
“I think we all loved Mrs. Willard.  Everyone enjoyed her because she loved everybody. She never had a bad word to say about anyone.  I just think our love for her will probably live forever.”

“I knew Mrs. Willard well.  We used to go . . . every week and spend a few hours with her.  She called us her girls.  We had many happy hours there.  She was always so quieting.  If you were disturbed in anyway, suddenly her influence quieted you. It was her dream that her place should be a retreat for people who really needed quiet and meditation.”

“Stephen and Beatrice’s home near Lone Pine was located in a secluded canyon hidden away in the Alabama Hills.  A spring abundantly supplied clear cold water for their use . . . On many occasions, Beatrice would proudly conduct her visitors on delightful walks on winding trails through the picturesque rocks and canyons of the Alabama Hills.”

” . . . that’s where they planted all . . . those fruit trees.   She was very generous in the summer when the fruits were in season.  Friends and acquaintances could go up and pick the fruit.  She had sent word to the Senior Citizens that if any of them would like to, they could go up and pick fruit and some of them did. And, that’s how generous she was.”

“The Garden Club as well as many of her friends were frequent visitors to the Willard’s lovely home and ranch.  Beatrice was always a charming and gracious host on these delightful occasions.  We shall all remember her radiant smile and charming personality.”