When you are in ‘J’ school, you are given a rudimentary outline, which you are to follow. Then you are asked to select a person of some note and interview them per the outline, which is essentially a vitae of their existence.
Your obit is then placed in newspaper files and when the person passes on, all the paper has to do is write a paragraph about the date and circumstance of death.
I wish to deviate from the norm in this article to describe the life of Doris Pastrell Cervere Banser, a well-known Sparks resident. Born in Goldfield, Nev., on May 17, 1914 to Viola and Ray Rockwood, and passing on Dec. 10, 2013. She was within a few months of reaching the century mark, a thing she was not looking forward to, because, as she said, “They might think I’m old.”
At the age of 15, she moved to Sparks, and attended Sparks High School from which she graduated in 1932. Among her activities was membership in the Spanish Club. She was a 2005 inductee into the Sparks High School Hall of Fame. Following high school, she studied journalism at the University of Utah and the University of California, which eventually led to a free-lance writing career, beginning in 1959.
She became a prolific author and scribe. Her writings included magazine articles, books and newspaper columns. Her best-known article was entitled, “Women’s Lib Began in the West,” which was selected as one of the best western tales from 20 years of Real West Magazine. It ran in the Fall edition 1974. She may well have based the article upon her own experiences.
Her books include “Nevada, A Colorful Past,” “Pyramid Lake Legends and Reality” and “Reno, A Pictorial History.”
Newspaper-wise, her column entitled “Nevada, A Colorful Past” appeared weekly in the Reno Evening Gazette for 10 years. In addition to her writing, she worked in the Speech and Drama Department at UNR, retiring in 1973.
While her writing kept her mind sharp up until the very end, it was her love of square dancing and a love of arrowhead hunting in the desert that kept her body in tip-top shape.
Also among her activities were her active memberships in the Nevada State Museum and various Nevada historical societies. She was the recipient of numerous state and national writing awards from the Nevada Press Women, National Press Women and the American League of Pen Women.
Never one to rest on her writing laurels, she at one time served as secretary to the Director of the Nevada State Department of Agriculture and also did a stint as secretary at Security National Bank.
As a tribute to this remarkable woman, retired Nevada State Archivist, Guy Rocha gave her a laudatory tribute at the recent celebration of her life.
Doris was predeceased by former husbands Louis Pastrell and John Cervere, and daughter Karen Wesley. She is survived by husband George Banser of Reno, and sons Darrell Pastrell (Jane) of Las Vegas and Dana Pastrell (Patti) of Reno. She also leaves 11 grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren, and 4 great-great grandchildren.
Harry Spencer is a long-time northern Nevada resident.