Editor’s note: An occasional series on the people who have helped build Manteca as the city gets ready to celebrate the 100th anniversary of incorporation this year.
Judy Vasquez was there in February of 1962 for the birth of Manteca Hospital.
The freshly minted registered nurse watched as owner Ralph Thole of Oakdale and his son assembled 28 beds for the opening of the hospital on Cottage Avenue at North Street. After they finished with each bed, she made them with the appropriate sheets to prepare the hospital’s first patients.
Judy devoted her entire career to the Manteca medical facility for nearly 40 years before she retired after it had become Doctors Hospital of Manteca. During that time Judy and her husband Robert had raised two sons and a daughter.
She was born in Jamestown in the Mother Lode in 1940 in a small hospital that has since become the National Hotel in Jamestown – a boarding house and bar – that her mother Olive Esgar owned. Judy said she also worked there as a teen making and changing beds, helping with meals and learning how to cook.
“When I moved to Manteca there was only one stop light hanging in the middle of the downtown intersection from wires – now it’s hard to get across town because of the traffic,” she said. “My kids learned to ride their bikes in vineyards near Sequoia School – with that area now being all in houses.”
She got her three years of nursing training at San Joaquin General Hospital with classes being held at the old Stockton College – now Delta College.
Judy worked as an RN at Doctors Hospital of Manteca from 1962 until 2000. She began as a floor nurse on the PM Shift. She was also a charge nurse, worked in the emergency room, was assigned to medical education, ending up doing risk management and handled quality assurance utilization reviews.
She remembers Avis Brewster as her boss and the director of nurses as well as Frances Purvis — a strict former Army nurse — who worked the graveyard shift. Purvis was known to deliver more babies than the Manteca doctors because Purvis said she always waited to call the doctors until she saw the babies’ heads crown at the beginning of their birth.
The Vasquez’s oldest son, Robert, was born in 1961. His career was in social services for San Joaquin County. Stephen came along a year later in 1962. He eventually worked with the Department of Corrections. Daughter Rebecca (Frisk) was born in 1971 and is a first-grade teacher today at Nile Garden Elementary School in the rural South Manteca.
Judy recalled that when her daughter was about to be born her Cub Scouts —she was a den mother — gave her a baby shower with gifts something she will never forget.
She remembers getting her first new washing machine at her Manteca home when her first son came into the world in 1961 and a clothes dryer when her second son came along in 1962. That meant she no longer had to hang diapers outside on a clothes line.
Judy was president of her Manteca Soroptimist Club twice and the PTA president for Sequoia School for two years. Her special project with the PTA was getting crosswalks installed on Locust Avenue in front of the school in the mid-70s.
“At the hospital, we went from doing everything to having more specialties like the added Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and the Emergency Department becoming a full-time unit with many more employees. I remember being he only RN on the PM shift in the whole hospital. They’ll never do that again,” she said.
The longtime RN who devoted her life to the hospital and to the Manteca citizens said people will come up to her even today and say she helped deliver their baby.
“I always have to say that I delivered a lot of babies, but I am sorry but I can’t remember your name,” Judy said.
When she was a young girl between 10 and 12 years old, she took piano lessons at what is now the Fallon House Theater in Columbia State Park just outside of Sonora. Her parents Richard and Ethel Mildran came to California from England. She said she has a lot of history in Tuolumne County and she is continually trying to document more of it through genealogy.
She said she enjoys stage plays at the Fallon House Theater and has had season tickets to their productions for over five years .
“I have been very fortunate to have met many of my old relatives from England and some have come to Manteca to stay with me at my home on vacation,” she said. “I don’t let too much grass grow under my feet.”
To contact Glenn Kahl, email email@example.com