Mary Helen Casamajor Mary Helen Casamajor, lifelong
Chicoan and architect of the Chico State alumni program, passed away
in Chico at age 84 on Sunday, Feb. 19, after a decade-long struggle
with Alzheimer's disease. She was preceded in death by her husband
of more than 60 years, former Chico mayor Gordon H. Casamajor, by
three years to the day.
She is survived by her children, Jon Casamajor and
Dan Casamajor of Chico, Robert Casamajor of Fair Oaks, and Marie
Casamajor of Santa Rosa; five grandchildren; and seven
Born Mary Helen Erwin on Oct. 18, 1921, to parents who came to
California from Michigan and farmed near Meridian before moving to
Chico, she attended Chico schools while residing on a ranch along
Lindo Channel west of the present Hwy. 32. She earned a Bachelor's
degree from Chico State College in 1942 after reigning as Little
Nell for the 1941 Pioneer Days celebration. She met Gordon Casamajor,
then a lieutenant and flight instructor at the Chico Army Air Base,
on a blind date in the fall of 1942, and they were married the day
after Christmas the same year.
The date had been arranged by Gordon's commanding officer, W.I.
"Alec" Alexander, whose daughter Lynn later married Robert Casamajor.
She was a mother and homemaker who was active in community affairs
and social organizations through the 1950s and 1960s. With her
children in college, she took a position with California State
University, Chico, as an assistant administrator in 1968. She soon
became the university's first full-time staff director of the alumni
program, which had previously been overseen by part-time faculty
coordinators. Over the next 20-plus years, she built the program
into a thriving organization with a $7-million annual budget and
thousands of members. Along the way, she also took on management of
the university's multi-site commencement ceremonies and countless
other tasks. The crowning achievement of her tenure at Chico State
was the successful acquisition of a stately Victorian home at Third
and Normal Streets, now known as Ella Caroline Sapp Hall, to serve
as alumni headquarters.
She and Gordon vacationed for many years at their condominium at
Kona, Hawaii. They were avid golfers who were devoted to family life
and the Chico community.
A memorial service will be held on the Chico State campus Friday,
March 3, in PAC 134, the Taylor Recital Hall (West First Street at
Normal Street) at 1:00 PM, with a reception to follow at Sylvester's
(across campus behind the Administration Building).
The family requests donations in lieu of flowers to the Chico State
Alumni Association or the Chico Cat Coalition, in care of Brusie
Funeral Home, 626 Broadway, Chico, CA, 95926.
Published in the Chico Enterprise-Record on