Jeff Jardine

Friends, family get last chance to brush up with painter

From the voice mails, e-mails and headlines:

BEHR WITH ME — I received an e-mail from a reader who happened to notice an obituary in the Honolulu Advertiser for Otho Behr, founder of the Behr Process Corp. that makes Behr paints. He died Friday at 92 in Kailua, Hawaii.

What drew the reader's curiosity — and mine — was that there will be a celebration of Behr's life for family and close friends Saturday at the McHenry Mansion in Modesto.

Why here?

Behr was married to Margaret Maze, a descendant of early Modesto families related to the McHenrys themselves. Maze Boulevard (Highway 132) was named for her family.

She died Aug. 5, 2000, and is buried with members of the Conneau family (her grandparents) at Acacia Memorial Park along Scenic Drive in Modesto.

Otho Behr died two days shy of seven years later, and will be buried alongside her Saturday at Acacia.

Despite living in Southern California and Hawaii, Margaret "never forgot her roots" in Modesto, Modesto historian Colleen Bare said.

In 1996, Margaret Behr sent flowers to the mansion's Mother's Day Tea in honor of the mothers in her family, and she frequently shared her family's history with stories that appeared in the mansion's quarterly publications. And Otho Behr donated the paint when the mansion was repainted in 1998, Bare said.

ONE OF A KIND, PART II — As I perused Friday's paper, I came across the "My Favorite Car" section and did a double-take. Headlined, "One of a Kind," the photo and story depicted a red, white and blue 1969 AMC Javelin with black interior, owned by Modesto's Bill Chroust.

My brother, Ed, lives in Scottsdale, Ariz. He has a later model of the same car. His is a 1974 AMX, which was the next-generation Javelin. And it, too, is red, white and blue (though a deeper shade of blue than Chroust's), with black interior. Of course, since it has no air conditioning, it doesn't get much daytime use in the blistering Arizona heat.

Having had a Javelin and an AMX during high school, he bought the patriotically painted one in a moment of nostalgia a few years ago.

The red, white and blue color scheme became popular after Mark Donohue drove a 1970 red, white and blue AMX to a Trans-Am victory in 1971.

There's a 1969 model, similar to Chroust's, for sale on eBay for a minimum $15,000 bid.

PROGRESS STALLED — They teach courses in business, mathematics and engineering at Modesto Junior College. Maybe some MJC officials should take some of those courses as they spend MJC's $220 million share of the $326 million bond measure passed in 2004.

The district promised the voters a 500-space, multilevel parking garage on the MJC campus and budgeted $12 million for it. They did this as an idea — not a plan. They had no blueprints in hand.

Had they they done some front-end research, they might have known the city would require a turn lane into the building from Stoddard Avenue — a lane that will eat up 70 parking spaces. Now, they're looking at a 430-space garage, which will still help ease parking on and around the campus.

When you consider the existing paved lot where the building will go already has 167 spaces, we're really talking only 263 new spaces which, at $12 million, will cost $45,627 each.

By comparison, Stanislaus County built a 711-space parking garage next to the new district attorney's offices downtown for $9.34 million, or about $13,100 per space. It came in on budget and opened in September 2006.

MJC still hasn't conducted a traffic study — one of the basics for any major new construction and certainly for a new parking garage.

ON A SHORT LEASH — One who would not have been welcome among the 100-plus guests at the doggie wedding Sunday in Ceres: Atlanta Falcons' quarterback Michael Vick.

TWO YEARS AGO WEDNESDAY — Nita Mayo, a Hawthorne, Nev., woman, disappeared in the Sierra. The 64-year-old reportedly had driven over Sonora Pass for a sightseeing and shopping excursion, and purchased some items at the Strawberry Store. Her car was found at the Donnell's vista, with her camera and keys locked inside. But no trace of her has been found since, despite extensive searches of the area.

Her family is organizing another search Aug. 18-19 at the vista point, beginning at 9 a.m.

"I have discussed the search efforts with many people and no one is convinced that we should rule out where her car was found," daughter Tracy Mayo said.

Jeff Jardine's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Local News. He can be reached at jjardine@modbee.com or 578-2383.

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