MILLER-FISHER-WILLIAMS & MALUGANI Family Reunions
The Miller-Fisher-Williams Family Reunions of Northern California started with Cora Ethel (Miller Fisher) Williams, "Grandma Williams," and her sisters in the 1920s. Earlier the reunions were held on Easter and during the 1950s and 1960s. With Cora as the family matriarch, the annual event shifted to Mothers' Day. After Grandma Williams' passing in 1967, her daughters "took back" Mothers' Day and moved the event to August.
In 1972, Martha (Malugani) Marci's 92nd birthday was held together with the Miller-Fisher-Williams reunion and thereafter more Malugani attendance, beyond that of Pearl (Fisher) Malugani's immediate family, began to attend.
By the 1990s the family reunion was bumped into September where it is usually held on the third Saturday of the month.
September 20, 2014, (third Saturday in September) at Finley Park, 2060 West College Avenue, Santa Rosa, California.
Chronology of Family Reunions
Following is a reconstruction of the dates, places, and highlights of our family renions:
Please let me know if you have additions, corrections, or photos to lend to this project
Asti, Sonoma County, 1920s
As Hazel (Malugani) Goss recalls, one of the earliest reunions she remembers was held along the Russian River at Asti. At this memorable event, Earl Fisher was wrestling with his aunt Iva and broke her leg.
rural Calistoga, Sonoma County, 1940s
Other earlier reunions were held up in the hills above Santa Rosa on the road toward Calistoga near aunt Mildred (Fisher) Fechter's home.
Alpine School, Sonoma County, late 1940s to late 1960s
Grandma Williams convened the reunions of her last two decades on Mothers' Day at Alpine School on Saint Helena Road in the hills above Santa Rosa.
An account of the 1957 Alpine School reunion recalls:
"...at the last family gathering, some 120 members of the clan, including in-laws, got together for a reunion at Alpine where it was necessary to rent a farm center building for the day in order to accommodate the throng..."
rural Calistoga, ~1960
Gaylynne was two years old when a reunion (or perhaps other large family gathering) was held at Merle & Ruby's.
Conn Dam Picnic Area, Rutherford, Napa County, ~1962
About 1962, the reunion was held at the Conn Dam Picnic area on Lake Hennessey outside of Rutherford.
Doyle Park, Santa Rosa, ~1965 and 1968
As I recall from my baby photos and 8-mm home movies, a reunion was held at Doyle Park when I was a baby, likely in 1965.
After Grandma Williams died in 1967, daughters Mildred (Fisher) Fechter and Sonoma (Fisher) Clarke moved the annual reunion from Mothers' Day to August. The first of these reunions was held in 1968 at Doyle Park.
Yountville, Napa County, late 1960s to ~1982
After Doyle Park, the annual event moved to Yountville in the center of the Napa Valley.
Knowland Park, Oakland, Alameda County, 1972
In 1972, Beverly Marci suggested to Hazel that they combine the Marci-Malugani family reunion and celebrate Martha (Malugani) Marci's 84th birthday, meeting part way between Santa Rosa and Gilroy. The reunion was held at Knowland Park in Oakland next to the Oakland Zoo.
Mark West Springs Road, Sonoma County, 1983
In 1983, Richard Malugani hosted the reunion at his residence on Mark West Springs Road and brought the Malugani and Magatelli families back into the reunion. As such, this event is remembered as the largest reunion with over 200 relatives attending. It is also memorable for reuniting six of the seven surviving children of Charlie & Pearl (Fisher) Malugani (all except for Bud), the first time that all five sisters had been together for 35 years. The reunion at Richard's is also known for Lois (Dillon) McKee's dip in Richard's pool.
Prior to this reunion, Richard had also hosted several annual family Easter Egg hunts at his shale pit on Porter Creek Road in the 1970s.
Spring Lake, Santa Rosa, 1984
The 1984 reunion was held at Spring Lake in Santa Rosa.
Cloverdale, Sonoma County, 1986-1988
Cloverdale was this site of reunions from 1986 to 1988. Following the Mark West Springs event, the 1986 Cloverdale reunion was also widely attended and brought the Marci branch of the Malugani family back into the fold as well as an appearance by Grandma Beaman.
A memorable mishap at one of the Cloverdale reunions was Sonja Beaman and another child playing in a car and releasing the parking brake. As the car rolled down the hill, Sonja's aunt Nadine's brother dove through an open window and stopped the car from crashing.
Kay Goss's first reunion was the 1986 reunion in Cloverdale.
My wife, Chong-ok Goss, attended her first reunion at Cloverdale in September 1988, after we returned from Korea.
Sebastopol, Sonoma County, September (~1989/1991)
After Gary & Kay Goss married and moved to Sebastopol, they hosted the September (~1989/1991) reunion, which started at Ragle Ranch Regional Park but shifted to their house when rained out.
Vallejo, Solano County, 1990, 1991, and 1994
The Vallejo reunions were arranged by Pat (Dillon) Faria and her daughter Dayle (Faria) Lamb. The September 1990 reunion was the first held at Vallejo.
Penngrove, Sonoma County, September (1992)
The Penngrove reunion was held in September (1992) and attended by Sandy & Lou WOOD from Alaska and the Malugani-Marci family from Salinas and Gilroy. It is also remembered as the last reunion for Donna (Clarke) Boles, who died in 1993.
Finley Park, Santa Rosa, ~1993-1996...
I recall the first (and only) time I brought my desktop setup to the reunion at Finley Park (~1993). The next year I wisened up and rented a laptop to take to the reunion. A year or so later, after getting stationed back in Korea and contacting Carol Jean Lasley-Larsen, Carol brought her motorhome and computer setup to another Finley Park reunion (~1996).
The 1996 reunion at Finley Park featured the celebration of Bev & Jay Beaman's 50th wedding anniversary.
Howarth Park, Santa Rosa, Sept. 16, 2000
Thanks to collaboration on genealogy, we expanded attendance in 2000 by inviting fellow Fisher relatives and researchers David Fisher, Thomas & Carole Fisher, Carol Jean Lasley-Larsen, and Cheryl (Fisher) Casciani, granddaughter of Charles S. Fisher. Delores (Martindale) Sanford also attended after losing her husband Joseph Sanford earlier in the year.
Additionally, Pat (Dillon) Faria named me as honorary "Mayor" of the Miller-Fisher-Williams-Malugani clan (despite my missing the previous four reunions and all of them afterward until 2007!).
Cloverdale, Sonoma County, September 2001
Finley Park, Santa Rosa, 2003-present
Finley Park has been the reunion venue of choice for the past several years. The September 2005 reunion further expanded the family by inviting Gail (Miller) Waldo and Sandra (Miller) Nelson, daughters of Herbert Archie Miller, a first cousin of Grandma Williams'.
The September 2006 reunion featured the 56th anniversary celebration of Jerome & Beverly (Williams) Marci, and their daughter Jill who started collecting DNA data on the Malugani, Cerini, and Marci families for genealogical research.
Gail and Sandra also brought their parents, Herbert & Wilma (Boehl) Miller, to attend the 2006 reunion for the first time.
After missing out on every reunion since the 2000 reunion at Howarth Park, I managed to make the September 2007 reunion at Finley Park. Although morning rain scared off several key elders, a little over 80 die-hards turned out. Even more rare than my attendance was the attendance of Chet Pettek and Zachary Stewart.
With the passing of Dan Malugani earlier in the year, at the age of 99, the eldest at the 2008 Reunion was Hazel Goss, age 89. The John V. Miller branch of the Miller family expanded with the additions of Fred, Barbara, and Bonnie.
2009 Reunion attendance was around 90 because wet weather led up to it and a gloomy weather in the morning cast some doubt. The weather cleared up quite nicely though. This reunion saw the return of Mel & Nadja Fechter and Carole Ann (Hopper Fechter) Camire after many years; Tom & Carole Fisher and David Fisher from the John J. Fisher (1831-) clan returned after several years; the John V. Miller branch returned and expanded; and Jo Malugani flew in from Weatherford, Texas, to attend.
Sadly, the 2009 Reunion opened with the tragic news that Kirsten Pettek had been mortally injured in a car accident the day prior. She passed away the following Monday at the young age of 16.
The 2010 Reunion had a drizzly start but finished bright and sunny with 102 in attendance. Hazel Goss and Ed Williams checked in as the oldest (ages 91 and 90) and Kayla Buessing as the youngest (about 5 months). The Fisher-Campbell clan was out in full force this year (and did quite the job of cleaning up on the raffle prizes!), and we received a surprise visit by Dorothy (Smith) Milliken and daughter Patricia (Milliken) Hartley--the first of the Nancy (Fisher) Smith line who also made their way to Sonoma County in the early 1900s.
I had every intention of making it this year but had to hold down the fort while Chong-ok returned home to Korea to visit her ailing mother. Reports are that 91 attended and enjoyed excellent company and wonderful weather. Hazel Goss and Ed Williams continue their reign as the oldest (ages 92 and 91). The Fisher-Smith-Milliken-Hartley family returned for their second, consecutive year.
After missing last year's reunion I made sure to make the 2012 reunion. The weather started off with a chilly fog that burned off around 10:30 and let beautiful blue skies through. Attendance reached 82. I had my eye set on winning the furthest travelled award but was scooped by Tom Faria and his family from New Hampshire. I happily turned over the trophy--a winged pig. Hazel Goss, age 93, naturally won the oldest attendee award. Kayla Buessing, also of the Faria clan, won the youngest attendee award, age 2.
Ed Williams, who passed away in March, a month before his 92nd birthday, was missed by all.
Two years in a row for me! This year it rained right up to the start of the reunion, which apparently scared a few folks off. But as Hazel Goss put it, "we're not made of sugar or salt," and 72 made it. It turned out to be a beautiful day. The eldest of the elders were Hazel Goss, age 94; Dorothy Milliken, age 90; and Rubye Campbell, age 89.
Three in a row! It took a good while for the fog to break and road construction and traffic caused a handful to turn around and head home, but we managed 77 attendees this year. I'd say the Beaman family wins the prize for most travelled, coming in from upstate New York, Chicago, and Washington state--and by Harley even! Hard core!