Joe Balestreri writes:
I first met Gary and Winfield in about 1983. I wrote Gary via RFD. We both lived in Sacramento at the time. He was finishing his degree in Environmental Horticulture at UCD Davis. He moved back to the Redding/ Redbluff area where he grew up and where he had parents and a daughter Clea.
Winfield and Gary started a new life together there on land he owned west of Olivehurst. Gary helped his father start the first winery in the county. He also helped his ex-wife start the children’s science center, and Gary started Redding’s arboretum next to the science center on land along the Sacramento across from downtown Redding. Gary and Winfield also helped start the farmers market in their area. Their small farm had olives inter-planted with grapes and seasonal vegetables.
I don’t remember if I introduced them to the Faeries, but I do remember stopping at their farm on the way to the Poodlebrook Gathering, the 1st Nomenus gathering at Wolf Creek. Gary and Winfield did attend several fairy and Billy gatherings. After one of the Heartwood gatherings, I stayed with them, and they showed me the future Redding Arboretum. More than once they encouraged me to buy some relatively cheap land and become their neighbor. It was beautiful there west of Olivehurst, the landscape being a mix of old olive groves and native vegetation on rolling hills with stunning views of Shasta, and other snowy ranges.
I was at my grandparent’s home in SF the night I saw the news about their deaths at the hands of two extremist, fundamentalist brothers who were later found to have fire bombed a Sacramento synagogue. Gary and Windfield had actually helped the 2 brothers to set up a stand at the farmer’s market.
It was such a horrific and crushing act of violence against two very sweet, decent friends and very productive members of the Billys and of their local community.
It’s a very difficult thing to face, and yet we must not forget our brothers and what they stood for and what they were subjected to by violent and hate-filled religious extremists.
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