Before her death at almost 100 years of age, Hulda Weger established a perpetual scholarship with the Mendocino College Foundation in honor of her late husband Alfred Weger. A teacher in local schools for over 30 years, Hulda left a lasting legacy to promising Ukiah High students who attend Mendocino College.
The daughter of German Swiss immigrants, Hulda Weger grew up in Ukiah. According to the Mendocino County Historical Society (MCHS) Newsletter of Spring 2010, she reported years later that she, sadly, did not like growing up in Ukiah because: “We were newcomers, essentially foreigners with an accent, and were never made to feel welcome.”
Hulda graduated from high school when it was located where the Ukiah Civic Center is today. She went to College of Marin for a year, then on to Humboldt State Teacher's College in Arcata. After graduation, she searched all over California for a teaching job, but the only one she found was “right here in Ukiah.” She began her teaching career in the one-room Pine Mountain School south of Hopland at Commisky Station. After two years, the MCHS Newsletter reports that she began teaching at Ukiah Grammar School, although her son, George Weger, recalls that she first taught for a year at Ukiah High School, then moved to Ukiah Grammar School, which was later known as Yokayo School.
The MCHS Newsletter reports that when Hulda started driving, she bought gas at the Redwood Tree station, and there she met Alfred Weger, her future husband. She refused to get married until after she had traveled – to Europe, Alaska, and the South Sea Islands. She traveled solo, which was unheard of in those days. Eight years after her first trip, she and Alfred were married. They rented a house on Snuffin Street in Ukiah until the gas station had to close due to war time rationing. They moved to Mare Island, where Alfred found work as a welder. Their son, George, was born during a visit to Ukiah in December 1942. After the war, Hulda and Alfred moved back to Ukiah to be near her parents in their later years.
In 1879, Alfred's family had purchased 471 acres of tribal land from the U.S. Land Office and built Orr Springs Resort. When Alfred's father became incapacitated in 1946, his mother asked Alfred and Hulda to come and help her run the resort for the summer. That summer lasted until 1973! According to the MCHS Newsletter, Orr Springs was not just a resort at that time, but a hunting and fishing club, and a working ranch with fruit trees and sheep and a lot of farm work to be done. Hulda taught her beloved third graders and Alfred ran the Redwood Tree Gas Station during the week, then they worked at Orr Springs Resort on the weekends. Hulda also worked there when school was out, during the summers. George Weger recalled that Orr Springs was a family resort when he was growing up. He remembers looking forward to seeing the same families return every year.
In 2009, after teaching in Ukiah schools for over 30 years, Hulda established the Mendocino College Foundation Hulda and Alfred Weger Scholarship which provides a $1000 scholarship each year to a Ukiah High School student who attends Mendocino College. The most recent winner of this scholarship was Yanira Muniz who will receive the award when she enrolls in six units or more at Mendocino College in Fall 2015.
For more information about the Mendocino College Foundation or to donate towards any of their programs, call them at 707-467-1018.
Photo: Foundation Director Donald Coursey and the 2015 Weger Scholarship recipient Yanira Munez.