Chan Wilcox, a resident of Three Rivers for 25 years, died Monday, Oct. 5, 2015. He was 85.
A memorial service will be held Sunday, Oct. 11, at 2 p.m., at Community Presbyterian Church in Three Rivers. A reception will follow the service in the church’s Harrison Hall.
Chan was born March 22, 1930, in Buffalo, N.Y., the only child of William B. and Annette M. Wilcox. The family moved to Pennsylvania in 1937 where they first experienced and enjoyed rural farm life.
In 1943, by way of Colorado, the Wilcox family arrived in Southern California. Chan attended grammar school in Sierra Madre at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains. His high school and junior college years were spent in Pasadena.
When he was 15 to 17 years old, Chan spent three summers working on cattle ranches and packing mules in the High Sierra out of Huntington and Florence lakes. After his graduation from UC Santa Barbara with a major in Sociology, Chan worked as a cowboy near King City, Calif. In January 1954, he entered the Army and was first stationed at Fort Ord.
In the Army, he was a civilian-clothed agent for the Counter Intelligence Corps, stationed in San Francisco. After his Army discharge in January 1956, he moved to Visalia. This was immediately after the flood of December 22, 1955, when the Kaweah River overflowed its banks and left Visalia and the surrounding areas under a foot or more of water.
Chan wasn’t deterred by this wet welcome. He went to work at a cotton gin, and for the next 40-plus years, he was a self-employed rancher, growing mostly cotton, corn, and alfalfa. During later years, he concentrated on raising walnuts and cattle.
The latter half of his life was blessed by the loving companionship of Elizabeth Moise, who became Jessie Elizabeth Wilcox when the couple married in 1989 at Community Presbyterian Church in Three Rivers. Chan and Elizabeth had purchased property in Three Rivers in 1978; in 1990, they built their riverside home here.
Chan and Elizabeth enjoyed many years of traveling, as well as enhancing their home. Both enjoyed the outdoor life and traditional jazz, which is alive and well in Three Rivers.
Chan was an expert builder and metal worker. He also had been restoring old cars since before he was old enough to drive.
Chan was a member of Sierra Traditional Jazz Club, Three Rivers Historical Society, and Community Presbyterian Church.
Chan was preceded in death by his parents; wife Elizabeth in 2013; and his eldest stepson, Herb Moise, of Colorado.
He is survived by two sons, John Wilcox of La Grange, Calif., and Alan Wilcox of Ecuador; two grandsons Jeff of California and Jeremy of Arizona; three stepchildren, Woody, Mark, and Kim Moise, all of California; and stepson Herb’s widow Betsey Moise of Colorado.
A private family burial will be at the family plot in the Three Rivers Cemetery at a later date.