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Hospice tree remembers loved ones
Annette Dubois was all smiles after the tree lights came on during the Hospice of San Joaquins 20th annual Tree of Lights ceremony.

Not too long ago, Robert Kirsch lost his wife to cancer.

In memory of Cheryl Kirsch, he along with his daughter, Bonnie, and grandchildren Alexyss, Hannah and Nicholas had the honors of flicking the switch for the Hospice of San Joaquin’s annual Tree of Lights ceremony.

“I don’t know what we would have done without the Hospice of San Joaquin,” Robert Kirsch said. “They did everything to help (ease her pain) during her last month at home. For that, I’ll always be grateful.”

Cheryl Kirsch’s memory is represented by one LED energy-efficient bulb along the 60-foot evergreen in front of Doctors Hospital of Manteca, 1205 E. North St.

According to Mark Rasmussen, area supervisor for Pacific Gas & Electric Company, it took six of his men an estimated eight hours to install the strands of light colors onto the tree.

One 1,200-foot strand consisted of 1,220 bulbs, he noted.

The Tree of Lights will be on display through the end of the month, according to Gene Acevedo, Hospice of San Joaquin’s director of community outreach.

All told, the Hospice of San Joaquin has seven Trees of Light including the one in Manteca. The other ones can be found in Tracy, Stockton, Lockeford, Lodi, Rio Vista and Galt.

“Every year we get an estimated 6,000 donors who choose to memorialize or honor their loved ones this way (with a symbolic light color),” Acevedo said.

Many folks braved the cold conditions to attend the 20th annual Tree of Lights event.

They were entertained by the East Union High choir under the direction of Anne Talcott.

Jacqui Bagatta, who is a board of director for the Hospice of San Joaquin, welcomed those in attendance while the Rev. Bill Barnett of the Grace Community Church of Lathrop provided the invocation.

Special guests included Doctors Hospital of Manteca CEO Mark Lisa, PG&E’s Teresa English Soto, and French Camp School first-grade student Jennifer Contreras.

The latter was recognized for doing the program cover art for the Tree of Lights event. Contreras is student in Melanie Ota’s class.

The Hospice of San Joaquin is a not-for-profit organization that provides comprehensive and compassionate medical care, counseling, and support to terminally ill patients and their families, regardless of their ability to pay.

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