February 4: Meet Brigadier General James B. Thayer and Anne Sandoval
Wednesday, February 4th - 7:00 pm at Oswego Heritage House
One of Oregon’s finest military and civic leaders, James Thayer joined the U.S. Army in 1942 as a young man, earning the prestigious Silver and Bronze Stars for his combat heroics in Europe during World War II. Second Lieutenant Thayer’s anti-tank mine platoon discovered and liberated a Nazi death camp, Gunskirchen Lager, near Wels, Austria, saving the lives of over 15,000 Hungarian Jewish refugees.
Also appearing with General Thayer is Rosie the Riveter, Anne Sandoval
Anne was born in Los Angeles, California to Solok and Vera Abajian on September 21, 1924. Her journey as a child growing up in an ethnic family was secure and motivating. Anne’s mother and her family came to America from Armenia in 1906, and her father came with his family, escaping the Armenian Holocaust, in 1915. Anne’s grandfather along with thousands of other men were made to walk in the desert until they died because they would not denounce their Christian faith.
Anne was the fourth child in a family of six children. At the age of six they moved to a small one acre farm in Santa Maria, California. During the great depression they felt quite rich as Anne’s father made $100.00 a month. They also sold chickens, eggs, walnuts, figs, vegetable boxes and rented horse stalls and corrals to horse owners. They all had chores to keep up the place. Anne’s was to scrape up the chicken manure from the chicken house and rake the chicken pen. As they grew in age other responsibilities were added. Anne’s was to weed and water the vegetable and flower gardens. Definitely a much more pleasant responsibility and fragrance!
Early on, Anne had a great interest in sports and music. She began pitching in the third grade and went on to be the main pitcher in high school and on college teams. She also began singing little solos in the third grade and continued singing in college choir, church choirs and as a soloist for weddings and funerals throughout most her adult life.
During WW II, Anne graduated from High School and became a riveter for Lockheed Aircraft, building the Mighty Lightning P38, the fastest plane during the war. She loved her job but lost the hearing in one ear due to the constant riveting noises. However, Anne feels that was little sacrifice compared to what our service men went through during the war. Anne traveled with family members to the Tillamook Plane Museum and was able to show them the plane she helped to build. Of course they took pictures of the parts she riveted and this plane may have been one of the very ones she worked on.
After the war it was back to school and college where Anne met her life-time partner, Al Sandoval. They were married on November 20, 1948. God gave them three children and ultimately all five members of the family became teachers in various schools, both public and private. At the present time Anne can boast of three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
After setting up the Christian Education Department and teaching for one year at Western Seminary, Anne’s husband died unexpectedly at the young age of 39. The girls were 11, 13, and 15. Now the real test of trusting God began.
Anne began teaching a class at Western Seminary concerning Children’s Ministries and it developed into a full time job teaching other classes, developing a resource center and teaching classes for student wives. New opportunities for speaking at conferences, women’s meetings and so much more than she could ever image came her way. As a Consultant for Gospel Light Publications she enjoyed traveling to various states to do workshops and help churches with curriculum.
In 1977 Biola University awarded Anne an Honorary Doctorate Degree. This was the first time Biola awarded Doctorates to women. What an honor and expression of appreciation from the University.
After 25 years teaching at Western Seminary, Anne was invited to be the Children’s Director at Milwaukie First Baptist Church. For seven and a half years she had the joy of working at that church. Then she turned 75, it was the year 2000 and it seemed like a good time to retire.
For three years after retirement, Anne served as Coordinator of Volunteers at Gresham High School, recruiting and establishing a volunteer program for over 300 parents.
At 90 years old, Anne now resides with her daughter in Lake Oswego and continues her involvement in family, church and community activities. Initially, Anne’s goal was to live until she was 93. She has revised that goal. She is going for 100!