Janine Chilcott: 1930 ~ 2016


Janine M. (Thornburg) Chilcott died Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016, at her Three Rivers home. She was 85.

A service will be held Saturday, Jan. 23, at 1 p.m., at the Three Rivers Memorial Building.

Janine was born May 19, 1930. She married David Slater and had three children, Judy, Jeff, and Jack. 

In later years, while living in Southern California, she met Robert Chilcott (1924-1997). The couple married in 1976, and Janine joined Bob in dairy farming, ranching, and draft horse competitions. 

In 1986, the Chilcotts met Dr. Forest Grunigen (1905-1999). Forest was from a pioneer Three Rivers family and, in 1905, was born in Sequoia National Park’s Giant Forest.

Janine and Bob purchased the historic Redstone Ranch from Forest and, in 1987, moved from Riverside to Three Rivers to reside on this property that has associations with the Kaweah Co-Operative Colony. The couple housed their 14 Percheron draft horses on the ranch for many years and often held events for children, families, and all Three Rivers residents to experience the giant horses and the rest of the ranch.

“After getting to know Fory and learning of his involvement with Woodlake High School’s Class of 1924, Robert and I wanted to do something nice for this exceptional group of people,” said Janine during an interview with The Kaweah Commonwealth in 2002.

So starting in 1988, the Chilcotts began hosting the annual Class of 1924 reunion. In 1991, as an outgrowth of that event, Janine became a member of the just-formed Three Rivers Historical Society; she continued to serve on that board until the time of her death. 

Janine was the driving force behind obtaining property to house a historical museum. With that in mind, the Chilcotts purchased Jessie (MacKinnon) Bequette’s (1906-2010) home and property on Highway 198. (Jessie was also a member of the WHS Class of 1924.)

Janine’s dream was always to open a museum but, even more, to have a “rest stop” with a picnic area, bathrooms, and other public facilities for travelers and community members. When the adjacent property became available for sale, Janine and the Three Rivers Historical Society board purchased that too.

Because of Janine’s vision, guidance, and financial support, there is a Three Rivers Historical Museum. And, in 2001, Janine’s project became to bring the Paul Bunyan statue back to Three Rivers, where it was originally created by renowned sculptor Carroll Barnes. It is now a popular landmark in Three Rivers, greeting all passersby on the highway in front of the museum.

Janine’s careers included real estate development and sport fishing. She also owned and operated Three Rivers Travel Agency for 10 years. 

In 2002, Janine was honored by the Three Rivers Lions Club at the group’s annual Recognition Night for her contribution to the preservation of Three Rivers history. Most recently, Janine was instrumental in helping Riata Ranch International and their famous Cowboy Girls relocate their operations to her Redstone Ranch property in Three Rivers.

Janine was preceded in death by her husband, Bob, in 1997 and her son, Jack, in 2006.

She is survived by her daughter, Judy; son Jeff; four stepchildren; 11 grandchildren; and 10 great grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, Janine would appreciate that folks make a donation to the Three Rivers Historical Society, P.O. Box 162, Three Rivers, CA  93271.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.