April 17, 1925 to July 27, 2014
Mary Frances (Argeson) Garner was born in Denver, Colorado, on April 15, 1925, to Samuel Demetrius Argeropulos (Argeson) and Amanda Ermentine Custer (Argeropulos) Argeson. She left this earth to be with our Lord on July 27, 2014, in Bakersfield, California. She is preceded in death by her parents, a half-brother Durwood Crabb and half-sister Jewell, and her beloved husband of (then) forty years, James L. Garner.
Most of Mary’s childhood and young adulthood was spend in Long Beach, California. An accomplished violinist, she played in the Long Beach Women’s Symphony and worked in the downtown Long Beach Humphrey’s Music Store, where she met James Garner, a Chief Warrant Officer in the Army stationed in Long Beach as leader of the 507th Coast Artillery Band. They married on October 17, 1944, and left for Texas soon after. While Jim was stationed in Japan, Mary came to live in Taft. She got a job working for the County of Kern in offices at the Fort.
When Jim was discharged from the Army, the couple decided to live in Taft temporarily, with Jim taking the position of Supervisor of Music with Taft City School District until other employment in a bigger city could be found. Happily, they never left. Mary continued to work for the County in several positions. She served under County Supervisors A. W. Noon and Vance Webb. She was an eligibility worker for the Kern County Welfare Department (now the Department of Human Services) for many years, retiring from that position, first in 1981, then again a decade later. She came out of retirement to serve as Field Representative on the West Side for County Supervisors Ken Peterson and Ray Watson, before retiring again in 2009. Mary also worked briefly for Standard Oil in their offices located in Elk Hills.
Mary and Jim Garner were very involved in many aspects of Taft life. They were active members of the First Baptist Church where Jim served as Church Moderator and Choir Director and Mary served as Sunday School Superintendent. They together taught a “young marrieds” Sunday School class for many years. Mary served as President of the Taft Women’s Improvement Club, located on North Street in what now is the home of Community Christian Fellowship. The Womens’ Club was responsible for bringing guest speakers, fashion shows, and floral and garden shows to Taft. Mary, along with Shirley Calhoun and Mary Poloynis (wife of Gregory Poloynis, local optometrist), formed a trio which played for many local events, including Masonic and Eastern Star installations. Mary and Jim were active in the Taft Community Concert Association, bringing world class talent to the Taft High School stage. Jim served on the West Side Hospital District. In her later years, Mary became very interested in the West Kern Oil Museum, serving as their Board Secretary for many years.
As busy as their lives were, Mary and Jim had time to raise two children, Kathy (Garner) Orrin of Taft and Sam Garner of Fresno. During the time their children were in high school, the Garner family was an American Field Service (AFS) Host Family to Dorle Josten (of Frankfurt, Germany—Taft High’s first exchange student) and Pawan Vermani (of Afghanistan--now a pulmonary specialist in the Pasadena, California area).
Mary was known for her quick wit and her winning sense of humor. She could find the funny side to any situation. Her ability to get into and to recount escapades with her wonderful friend, Pauline Vetrovec, delighted her family and friends. She was kind, hard-working, and loyal. Even through the escalating stages of her illness, she remained sweet and considerate to all who assisted her. It has been a privilege to know her.
Mary is survived by her daughter Kathy Orrin, son-in-law Ron Orrin, Mary’s granddaughter Mary Alice (Orrin) Finn and her husband Brian, (great granddaughters Reagan and Eliza), and son Zackery Garner Orrin; Mary’s son Sam Garner, her grandson Gabriel and Diane DiDonato of New York, and her great grandson Cassius Garner. Also close to Mary were her niece Beverly Peterson and her husband Frank, their children Heidi, Dirk, and Heather, and their spouses and children, all of Minnesota.
The family would like to acknowledge the loving care received at The Hallmark Assisted Living facility in Bakersfield where Mary lived for over three years. They thank Carol Hatton and the staff of Continuum Senior Care Management for their valuable education, support, and kindness to Mary and the family during this difficult journey, and they express their appreciation to the staff of Gentiva Hospice for their care in the last stages of Mary’s life.
A Memorial Service for Mary F. Garner will be held at the West Hills Church of the Nazarene, 300 Lassen Street in Taft, on Friday, August 8, 2014, at 2 p.m., with her Pastor, the Rev. Rodney Wikoff presiding. In lieu of flowers, friends and well-wishers may wish to give to the West Kern Oil Museum, Youth For Christ of Bakersfield, or to Alzheimer’s Disease Association of Kern County (ADAKC) in Mary’s name. Arrangements are under the direction of Erickson and Brown Mortuary. There will be no viewing.