Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

At age 85, former Fresno Co. Supervisor Stan Oken pens parenting book

Clovis resident Stan Oken has accomplished quite a bit in his 85 years of life.

A nine-year Fresno County supervisor. Co-founder of Domus Mitis, a foundation set up to assist in the care of abused and dependent women and children. Longtime chair of the Oken family-owned Wonder Valley Ranch Resort and Conference Center. Past chair of the Fresno Convention and Visitors Bureau. Teacher. Coach.

Stan Oken

Now, add author to that sterling résumé.

Oken has penned a book titled “Raising the Whole Child: Gardens of Destiny,” which talks about raising children and urges adults — be their children natural or adopted, or if they are foster parents — to step up and start parenting.

Using gardening as a metaphor, Oken writes that good gardeners raise whole children, while the seeds of the bad gardeners never bloom.

He even offers up a checklist that any couple should meeting before deciding to have a baby: be at least 21 years old, married, have at least a high school diploma, be free of drugs and alcohol, be prepared both socially and financially, have positive self-esteem, be educated about pre-natal care for the mother and health care for the child, and have both mother and father take parenting classes.

For anyone who knows Oken, the book may be a surprise, but certainly not the subject matter.

During his time as a county supervisor, children’s and juvenile justice issues were top priorities. And Oken has been a foster parent himself and founded the River Way Ranch Camp, a summer camp for youth.

Riverdale farmer Mendes looking at Fresno Co. supervisor run

On Monday, Fresno County Supervisor Judy Case said she wouldn’t seek re-election next year. In less than a day, rumors began swirling about those who were thinking about running for the seat.

By Wednesday, the rumor mill had churned out close to a dozen names. But so far, only one person had taken the first official step toward a run — Riverdale farmer Ernest “Buddy” Mendes.

He’s already formed an official exploratory committee. The paperwork is on file with the Fresno County Elections office.

Mendes, 57, said he’s thinking about running because he feels he can give the county effective representation.

He farms cotton, wheat, alfalfa, corn and pistachios and has land on both the Valley’s east and west sides. He also has a long history of public service, including the Riverdale Unified School Board (since 1993), the Southwest Transportation Agency Board (since 1996), and the Riverdale Public Utility District (since 1994). In 2011, he also served on the county’s Redistricting Task Force.

Mendes, however, says running for county supervisor is a big step up from those posts, one that would include significant campaigning and fundraising.

Case represents District 4, which covers the southern part of Fresno County, including the towns of Sanger, Coalinga, Selma, Kingsburg, Huron, Orange Cove and Reedley, among others.