Dr. Aranga “Randy” Firstman passed away peacefully on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017. She was 72.
A celebration of life will be held Saturday, Nov. 4, at 1 p.m., at the Center for Spiritual Living at 117 S. Locust St. in Visalia (there is a parking garage behind the Center, off Acequia Street).
Aranga was born November 4, 1944, in Glendale, Calif., to Ralph Walton Anderson and Graceann Kreglinger Anderson. As a young child, she lived in California, Arkansas, Texas, and Kansas before returning to Glendale as a teenager, where she graduated from Herbert Hoover High School in 1962.
Aranga was the first person in her family’s history to attend college. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Cal Poly Pomona (where she met and married Bruce Firstman), a master’s degree in Plant Pathology from University of California at Riverside, and a doctorate in
Education from Nova Southeastern University in Broward County, Florida.
In 1974, Aranga accepted the position of professor of biology at College of the Sequoias and moved with her two young children to Visalia. She taught microbiology, anatomy, physiology, and botany at COS for 30 years.
Most of her students were in the COS nursing program, several of whom would eventually care for her during the last five years of her life — in hospitals, home-health, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities. (Aranga’s family is especially grateful to the many nurses who remembered her during acute settings and spoke kindly of the knowledge they gained in Aranga’s classes.)
In 1992, Aranga moved to Three Rivers in the Sierra Nevada foothills — to her “Mandolin Mountain,” with its beautiful view of Case Mountain and Blossom Peak. From her view of the peaks she blossomed herself, taking up many creative endeavors.
Aranga’s paintings and digital art were featured in many regional exhibits, and her home was a mainstay on the biennial Three Rivers Artists’ Studio Tour. She was a self-taught computer programmer with her own website design business and provided services for many local artists and businesses.
She also hosted her own websites and blogs, “Pomegranate Porch, “ Esoteric Gardens,” and “Life In The Slow Lane.” Aranga was a certified Tibetan Reiki Master and member of Sequoia Mountain Healers. As a U.C. Cooperative Extension master gardener, she often manned the informational booth at the Saturday Farmers’ Market in Visalia.
In 2012, Aranga moved back to Visalia following a sudden life-threatening illness. Although her new life would be full of unexpected health challenges, friends and caregivers constantly rallied and encouraged her.
Aranga’s family would like to express their gratitude to the many caring people at Park Visalia Assisted Living, Westgate Gardens Care Center, Delta Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, and Kaweah Delta Hospital and Hospice.
Aranga is survived by her daughter, Carole Firstman (Karl Schoettler) of Visalia; son David Firstman (Penny) of Irapuato, Mexico; granddaughters Madison Firstman of Visalia and Sydney Firstman of Irapuato, Mexico; and brother Ronno Anderson of Drumright, Okla.
She was preceded in death by her sister, Tonya Graham, of Jackson, Calif., and brother Kregg Anderson of Tacoma, Wash.