Past Presidents: 2010-2019

2010 Wanda Elmore


Elwanda Ruth Edgil was born the youngest of six children on a farm in Jasper, Alabama. On May 21, 1945, her sixteenth birthday, she boarded a very crowded troop train with her Mother and sister, Dottie and came to San Diego.

During her junior and senior years of high school she worked introducing S & H Green Stamps as a sales clerk for Grayson’s, a ready-to-wear store, and as a waitress in the family-owned Streamliner Café. After graduating from Point Loma High School, Wanda attended San Diego Business College.

While in Business College she was hired as a Secretary and Bookkeeper with L.E Burner Auto Body Repair & Paint Shop where she received a million dollar education in seven years. She was the only girl working among a force of males. Her boss, Bill Burner, and his wife, treated her like family.

Wanda’s free time was mostly spent at the beach or roller skating at Mission Beach Amusement Center. The love of dancing and winning dance contests to the sound of the Big Bands at the Pacific Square, The Mission Beach Ballroom and the Trianon Ballroom were special times in her life.  Social Clubs and Tea Dances with the Military were very popular in the 50s. Modeling became popular. She enrolled in Powers Modeling School for Fashion and Hair Style.

From 1960 to1965 she lived in Japan, traveling by train, cruising on ships and flying. Wanda studied Flower Arranging and Machine Knitting. She earned a Teaching Certificate in each. In the Hobby Shop she learned ceramics and lapidary. She was President of the Officers Wives Club of five hundred wives.

After returning to San Diego she met Gene on 11 February 1967. Gene Elmore was a Commander in the Naval Reserve, a Navy Pilot on his annual two week active duty at the Naval Air Station, North Island Coronado. It must have been love at first sight; even 2,000 miles could not keep them apart. They were married on November 11, 1967 in Indianapolis, Indiana. In August 1968 they moved to San Diego and established Tele Camera of Southern California which they sold in 1995—a company that is still viable today.

They have two sons, Jack and James. Jack and his wife Peggy have two daughters and a son— Christy, Sandy and David.  James and his wife Elizabeth have a daughter Angelina and a son Sean. Christy has Zachary and Abby.

In 1980 Gene and Wanda attended their first Death Valley Encampment. They have not missed one since. During those early years, while they still had the business, they could squeeze out a few days—generally leaving on a Tuesday and returning to San Diego on Sunday. After selling the business they stretched their stay in Death Valley to two weeks. It is interesting to note that their wedding anniversary was always spent in Death Valley and (11-11-11) is their 44 th wedding anniversary.

In the late nineties Gene and Wanda signed up as Associates in the Death Valley 49ers and quickly became involved as Advisors and then Directors.  Wanda became the Art Show Chair in 2001 and has continued to support the Art Show and the Scholarship Program.

In 2007 Wanda organized and chaired the “Southwest Mining, Minerals, Lapidary and Craft Show.

She considers it an honor to have served as the Death Valley 49ers’ 61 st President in 2010.

2014 & 2018 Robert Whipple


For twenty-three years, I worked and traveled with different companies building high rises,  tunnels, and bridges with structural concrete crews.  In 2000, I went to work for the DOD and the Marine Corps as a mechanic on tanks, trucks, and assault vehicles. In 2004, I became an Industrial Specialist working the clerical end of the business.

One of my main passions is volunteer work; giving back to my community and devoting time to the organizations that mean the most to me.  Currently, I am very active with the Wounded Warriors Battalion West of the Marine Corps, and the youth football leagues here in the High Desert of Southern California.

I have been a member of the Death Valley ‘49ers since 2007.  Over the years, I have worked at the Encampment with the production and setup crews. Starting in 2012, I worked my way up through the executive board positions; first as 2nd Vice President, then 1st Vice President, and now, as President of this great organization. Every year I enjoy meeting all the folks who attend our Encampment, and spending time with the hard-working volunteers who make each event a success. It is a true honor and privilege to stand with the entire group of Presidents who have served before me.  In closing, for myself and the rest of my fellow ‘49er volunteers, we welcome you to the 65th Annual Death Valley ‘49ers Encampment, 2014.

2011 Jim Graves


Jim was raised in the El Cajon Valley, which is about 20 miles east of San Diego. After graduating from High School in 1963, he went to work for San Diego Gas & Electric Company. In September of 1965 he was included in the first large draft of the Viet Nam era.

In late July of 67, returning from Vietnam, he was released from active duty and returned home and back to work with SDG&E. Where he Retired in 1998 as a Working foreman with 34 years service.

In July of 1978, Jim married Nancy , and with her son Robert they  spent their summers traveling the country, visiting friends and relatives .  Several times in the 80’s , Past President , Rick Tullis sold  Jim Death Valley 49er memberships while attending E Clampus Vitus events. Not thinking too much about them.

It wasn’t until 1988 when Nancy was invited to go with friends to the Death Valley Encampment that they decided that they should return the next year so Jim could see for himself what all went on.  Jim and Nancy became active right a way, First helping Rick and Joyce Tullis with the art show and later Jim began helping out with the Fiddlers Stage and working with Bill Geist setting up sound and lighting for the various events and , helping  Nancy who had in the meantime, became involved with the Horseshoe Tournament ,and the Costume contest .

Jim at this time Chairs the Production Committee and Edits the Encampment Program. 

2015 Dennis Harders


I was born in Great Bend, Kansas in December 1947. I am the third child in a family of eight children. My father, who was also born in Great Bend, never moved out of the area until the later part of 1949, and never stopped moving. We moved first to Duncan, Oklahoma, then Colorado Springs, Colorado, Joplin, Missouri, El Cajon, California, Tucson-Glendale-Phoenix-Prescott, Arizona, Las Vegas, Nevada, and finally Tustin California. I graduated from Tustin High School in 1966. I met my wife, Sandi, in high school. We were married in August 1967, and are still together to this day.  Moving this much, I learned to talk to anyone and everyone, and I haven’t stopped talking since.

Since I was not ready for college after high school, I joined the US Army in June of 1967. I left the Army after three years of service, and moved back to Tustin. I went to work for Thrifty Drug Stores from July, 1970 to July, 1978.  While working for Thrifty, I transferred to Tucson, Arizona in 1972 and Albuquerque, NM in 1975.  I currently live in the house my wife and I bought in 1975.

In December of 1978, I joined the New Mexico National Guard. I went to OCS (Officer Candidate School) and earned my commission in June, 1980. I transferred to the US Army Reserve in 1987 and retired in September 1994.

After leaving Thrifty Drugs, I spent fifteen months working for a grocery broker. In March, 1980 I went to work for the William Wrigley Jr. Co., the makers of Doublemint-Spearmint-Juicy Fruit chewing gum.  I retired from Wrigley’s after twenty-five years at the age of 57, and have not regretted a day of retirement.

Sandi and I had discussed going to Death Valley when we lived in southern California, and later in Arizona, but never went. We finally made it to Death Valley in 2007 when we went to the Death Valley ’49ers Encampment.  I had a good time even though I had car battery problems most of the week we were there. I went to the DV ’49ers general meeting and decided I wanted to become an Advisor, and I just kept coming.

I was asked if I would be the chairman of the Golf Tournament for 2008, which is a position I still have. A few years later, I became a member of the Budget Committee and I am now Chairman of that committee. A year or so later I was asked to consider becoming president of the organization. I said yes! My tenure as Death Valley ‘49ers President will come to a close at the end of the 2015 encampment.

I have enjoyed being a member of the Death Valley ’49ers and I am looking forward to the future with this organization.

2012 Bev Malley


In 1956 she married her childhood sweetheart, Bob Malley, and they raised their three children, two boys and a daughter in the San Fernando Valley, where they made their home. She has three grandsons that bring her a lot of pride.

Bev went to Nursing School and pursued a career of 33 years of service as a licensed nurse. She worked in hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, and home health and later as an elementary school nurse.

In 1977, Bob and Bev built a gift store in a Recreation Mountain Development called Pine Mountain Club. She operated the “Calico Country Store” for 11 years as well as continuing her nursing career. During this time she served on the Commercial Property Owners Board of Directors as Secretary and also served as President.

In 1988 Lake Tahoe became a dream come true. The store was sold and a new life began in beautiful Lake Tahoe. They purchased a home, overlooking Heavenly Nevada Ski Resort, with a lovely view of Lake Tahoe.

In 1995 they moved to the foothills of the Sierras in the Carson Valley, Nevada, where Bev continues to enjoy the Sierras and the rural setting.

Bob Malley, a Director of the Death Valley ‘49ers, passed away in late 2005. We had a strong love and dedication to the Death Valley ‘49ers and Death Valley. Bev was determined to carry on with the organization and states “That is where I need to be.”

In 2007 I had the fortune of a wonderful friendship with Marvin Jensen who was then serving, as President and I became the Membership Sales chairman. We shared many interests, as well as our dedication to the Death Valley ‘49ers. We were happily married in 2010 and continue our dedication and love for the organization and this special place called “Death Valley.”

For many years Bev been active in the Winnebago Travelers organization and has served as Vice-President and Secretary. Bev and Marv also belong to the Family Motorhome Association. They enjoy traveling in their Winnebago motorhome whenever possible.

“It is a pleasure and a great honor to serve as the 2012 President of the Death Valley ‘49ers.”

2016 Woody Adams

2013 Letha B. Tatro

Letha was born in Oakland, California and attended public schools there. Her parents owned a “Mom and Pop” Grocery Store and her mother later became an Elementary School Principal in Oakland. She graduated from San Francisco State College and it was there that she met and married her first husband; Ralph Tarleton and they had 2 daughters – Sue Ann and Nancy Lee. They also became legal Guardians to Elaine Brown whom they raised from the age of 12.
Ralph passed away in 1981 from cancer and Letha continued teaching, keeping active with family, friends and her many volunteer organizations.
Letha met Ted at a Shrine event in 1986. They worked together in many Shrine groups and events which included the Shrine Annual Holiday Party where Letha helped Ted with the chairmanship.
They married and are now enjoying their home in the Sierra Mountains at 4,000 feet where they get plenty of snow.
Letha and Ted are very active in their church, where they serve as officers. They are also very active in the local Volunteer Fire Department where Letha served as President of the Fire Auxiliary. She was also elected to a 4-year term to the Fire Department Board of Directors and served two years as its President. She also chaired the County Fire Department Chili Cook-off for 8 years and served as Vice President of the County Fire Council.
They both enjoy traveling with their RV, and have attended 26 Encampments and enjoy being involved with the Death Valley 49er’s Organization. They have participated in many events including selling Memberships at the Date Booth, chairing the Pampered Pet Parade, co-chairing Gold Panning and helping out wherever they are needed.
Before becoming President of the Death Valley 49er’s, Letha served as Secretary for 2 years, and Second and First Vice President. She enjoyed her year as 2013 President.

2017 Virginia Stockman