About The Memoir Center

On this website you will find the stories of more than 60 World War II veterans, all of whom live or lived in Tuolumne County, California.

This effort was started in 2010 by personal historian Deanna Dechaine-Maurer, then a writer for Friends and Neighbors Magazine. Deanna wanted to make sure more veterans’ stories were recorded and saved for future generations, and gathered a group of energetic and talented volunteers to make that happen.

The organization in late 2016 completed its mission, thanks to the hard work of two dozen volunteers and a board of directors. Over the life of this nonprofit, Memoir Center volunteers interviewed more than 60 veterans, and created softcover books for these men and women, all provided free of charge thanks to financial support from the Sonora Area Foundation and individual donors.

Project volunteers included Chace Anderson, Chris Bateman, Niurka Benton, Bill and Celeste Boyd, Kathi Bramblett, Malcolm Carden, Cheryl Clark, Nancy Dumas, Jim and Judy Hamilton, Barry Hillman, Katie Hooper, Suzy Hopkins, John Howsden, Darlene Hutchins, Kaela Helmbold, Mary Louis, Packy Maxwell, Kathy Nunes, Eric Olson, Alan O’Neill, Arlene Stenger, Donna Underwood and Ken White.

Sonora veteran Tete ArellanoWhy do memoirs matter?

These elderly veterans, most in their late 80s or early 90s, are leaving us quickly. We wanted to make sure their firsthand historical lessons survive to inform the next generation, and the generations beyond.

Memoirs preserve our history in narratives that are more personal and engaging than text books and oral histories. Creating a memoir is a way of honoring someone and his or her contributions to family and community, ensuring they will not be forgotten.

We hope you learn from and enjoy the stories recorded here, and that this effort will inspire readers to record their own family members’ personal histories.