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March 18, 2014 > History Column: Tri-City Tidings

History Column: Tri-City Tidings

By Philip Holmes

Gigi Stengail came to Fremont with her husband Bert about 1985. Bert was an engineer, and the Stengards lived where BertÕs work took them. Gigi was born in Falun, Sweden. Her father was a Baptist minister and her mother, a teacher. They were her inspiration for scholarship and assisting less fortunate people in the community.

Gigi had unlimited energy and set to work at once to help the people of Fremont, Newark and Union City. Her community work apparently started when Linda Weibel Lannon invited her to a Make-a-Wish Foundation fundraiser. She immediately wanted to help children with special needs, so she started Tri-City Treats, an annual food fair that brought restaurants from the three cities together, to benefit children.

Tri-City treats was incorporated to collect money to help child-related organizations such as Rubicon, Tri-Cities ChildrenÕs Center and Sunrise Village. When Gigi left Fremont, this task was given to LOV Newark and the Newark Chamber of Commerce.

Gigi started the Tri-City Tidings magazine about the same time. She funded the magazine with support from Alameda County Water District, East Bay Disposal, Fremont Bank, Washington Hospital, Catellus, Cablevision, Commercial Bank of Fremont and other local businesses. It was distributed free through libraries, hotels, chambers of commerce, senior centers, etc. In seven years the circulation grew to 10,000.

The arts received a large share of GigiÕs attention. She knew how important the arts were to a community, not be ignored, even in hard times. Gigi helped Shirley Sisk with the monthly afternoon concert series, school arts program and arranged to bring Swedish professional musicians to Fremont with the help of another of her enterprises, the Scandinavian Club. The club held essay contests with cash prizes toward educational tours abroad.

Gigi encouraged other local volunteers to write articles for the Tri City Tidings magazine. Dan Archer wrote his Column ÒDan ArcherÕs ProfilesÓ for almost every edition. His Profiles were the first and featured article in each publication.

The 1994 Summer Edition still lists Gigi as the editor, but the Dan Archer Profile column opens with the story of Gigi Stengard. The last paragraph reads ÒGigi and Bert will move to Florida in mid-May. WeÕll miss them both and Gigi, it wonÕt be the same in the Tri Cities without you.Ó

Gigi replied that she would miss her home and had strong emotions about leaving the wonderful friends she would leave behind. She stated that ÒtheyÕed always be in my thoughts and prayers. I love them all and hope they love me.Ó

An ad by the Thunderbird Inn read, ÒThank you Gigi for making us your place for any occasion. We will all miss you, Gigi.Ó

An ad by Caldwell Banker read, ÒGigi É Our Sincerest but wishes to you and Bert. Your spirit and warm friendship will be missed.Ó

An ad by Ohlone College read, ÒBest Wishes, Gigi. Thanks for your contribution to Ohlone College and for your part in making Fremont and Newark a caring community.Ó

One of the last articles in this 1994 edition is entitled, ÒSave Our SteepleÓ written by Gigi herself:

ÒThe little Centerville Presbyterian Church has recently been destroyed by fire. However, the steeple has been saved by volunteers and a crew from the Pacific Gas and Electric Company. It lies stored in a wooden cradle behind Dirk LorenzÕs store. The steeple is safely stored in its temporary quarters in DirkÕs backyard.Ó Gigi recognized DirkÕs generous, help but wondered, ÒWhat will happen to the steeple next?Ó

The back cover of the magazine is an ad about ÒThe Seventh Annual Tri City Treats Food Fair at the Newark Fremont Hilton Hotel May 15, 1994. The event featured outstanding restaurants from Fremont, Newark and Union City and wineries from the Livermore Valley. All proceeds were to benefit children with special needs. The ad closes with these words: ÒThis is going to be GigiÕs Farewell Party so be there for the kids and Gigi!Ó

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