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Alice Dora Caulkins Melugin
Alice Dora Caulkins Melugin, a descendant of a pioneer Ceres family and the matriarch of the family, died Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009 at the age of 100. Her death from a stroke came weeks after she celebrated her 100th birthday with more than 100 family and friends in the home where she was born.

A memorial service was held yesterday at Harvest Presbyterian Church in Ceres. The Colonial Chapel of Franklin & Downs was in charge of arrangements.

Mrs. Melugin lived on a Roeding Road farm since her birth on Nov. 22, 1909. She was the seventh and last child of William O. and Mary Emma Whittier Caulkins who had moved from Nebraska by train to rural Ceres in 1903 to buy a farm. Dora's siblings, born in Ohio or Nebraska, were Grace Forney, Asa Moon, Mary Faye Davis, Fred Caulkins, Ellis Caulkins, and Nelly Riggs. The Caulkins bought their land from the Whitmore family to farm; Dora helped her family raise and sell chickens, eggs, turkeys, blackberries, alfalfa, figs, peaches, and apricots.

Dora graduated from Ceres High in 1928 as the valedictorian of her class. It's believed that she was the last surviving member of the class. In September 2008 Mrs. Melugin attended a special 100th anniversary celebration of Ceres High School and was honored as the oldest living graduate in attendance. The oldest graduate at the time, Dora's niece Mary Forney Thompson, was unable to attend. Mrs. Thompson died in April at age 101.

Dora's oldest brother and wife and second sister were three of the 15 members of the first graduating class from Ceres High in 1912.

After high school Dora graduated from Modesto Junior College in 1930, attended Moody Bible Institute in Chicago for a year and then graduated from U.C. Berkeley in 1934, obtaining her lifetime teaching credential in 1935. She taught elementary school in Ceres, Denair and Gratton until her marriage to John B. Melugin in 1941 and the births soon after of their four daughters Janet Allen, Patricia Cousins, Martha Caulkins, and Stella Coakley. For the next 20 years she raised her family and helped with all the work on the farm. At 50 she began 10 years of substitute teaching in Stanislaus County schools. She also tutored many local students. When she was 60 she started teaching at Modesto Junior College and taught there for 20 years. After retiring from teaching, Dora continued farming, being an essential part of the production of Melugin's tomatoes for selling at the farm and at Farmer's Market.

Dora resided her entire married life in the little house she helped her husband build in 1941. The house was located a few yards from her birthplace. She delighted in the fruit and flowers which surrounded her and which she loved sharing with others. Until she gave up driving at 80 she delivered fruit and vegetables to those unable to come to the farm and thereafter instructed others in the family to continue this sharing.

Dora worshipped at the First Baptist Church in Ceres until she started worshipping at Harvest Presbyterian Church approximately 10 years ago.

She leaves behind her daughters Janet, Patricia, and Stella; and grandchildren, John , Nathanael, Jennifer, Peter, Sarah, Mary, Miriam, Stella, and Martha; and 12 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents, all her siblings, her husband, and daughter Martha.

Remembrances may be sent to Modesto Gospel Mission 1400 Yosemite Blvd., Modesto CA 95354; or Inter-faith Ministries 120 Kerr Ave. Modesto 95354; or or Harvest Presbyterian Church 1813 Moffet Rd. Ceres CA 95307.