Doris Hooten (1932-2022)
We were notified December 31st by her granddaughter, Jalien Watson, that Doris had passed away December 17th, just a few days after her 90th birthday. Since leaving Fresno, Doris had been living with her daughter and son-in-law, Jennifer and John Flores, up in northern California.
Our newer club members probably did not know Doris Hooton and her son, Tom Meyer, but they were both outstanding members who contributed enormously to the club.
Doris and Tom joined FC&SS in 2004. They immediately became active members, helping out with club activities. Doris offered her large backyard for our spring picnic, and we held many picnics and other events there. Her dining room, as well, was the scene of club board meetings and workshop sessions. Tom did a lot of heavy work, hauling club properties in his truck, for which we were very grateful.
Both Doris and Tom were real plant people. Doris grew succulents and other plants both indoors and out. She had a room full of sansvierias in the house. Tom established cactus gardens at various locations on the property. (We also used the cactus-filled front yard as a backdrop for a few TV spots advertising our annual show and sale.)
Originally from southern California, Doris’ work with the California Animal Welfare and Health Department brought her to Fresno. She inspected animals over 15 counties—dog kennels, catteries and individuals registered to hold exotic animals. She was amazed at how many people had mountain lions, for instance. She later held a similar position for the federal government.
Doris and Tom’s yard and home featured a menagerie of critters: dogs, parrots, guinea pigs and a tortoise. A story illustrates Doris’ love of animals. One day, on south Peach Avenue, Doris saw a dog lying by the road. It was a female pit bulldog, so weak, so starved that she couldn’t even stand. Doris picked her up and brought her home. She and and Tom worked for weeks to bring her back to health and to overcome the fears she had acquired because of the abuse she had suffered. Doris called her Peaches because she found her on Peach Avenue. To see that dog react to Doris, you had to believe that Peaches just knew that Doris had saved her life.
After retirement, Doris became involved in the American Cancer Society program of giving patients who had no transportation rides to their treatments. She did this for several years until macular degeneration forced her to quit driving. Despite her vision problems, Doris continued to care for her plants and animals until March 24th, 2019, when Tom suddenly died. He had been in the hospital awaiting a procedure when this happened. The shock ricocheted throughout the club.
Doris felt she could continue to live in her home, but the other family members didn’t think so and, in the end, they were persuasive. She moved up to the Shasta Lake area with Jennifer and John. Her and Tom’s animals were re-homed, all but Basil, Doris’ beloved African gray parrot. He went north with Doris. Tom’s potted plants were sold at the club sale that year—with Doris receiving the vendor’s percentage (even though she intended them as a donation.
Those of us who knew Doris and Tom have to be content with our memories. Their property no longer looks the way it did when Tom was in charge. The new owners, who lived in the house for a year, moved back out of the area and had most of the specimen cacti and succulents packed up and sent with them. There’s only a small desert garden remaining. They sold the house last fall.