Vernon Carson was born October 21, 1928, to Verner and Ruth (Applegate) Carson, at Emmanuel Hospital in Turlock, California. His mother said that as she brought him into the world the song “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love, Baby” was running through her mind. Little did Verner and Ruth know that by the time their son was a year old the Great Stock Market Crash of 1929 would plunge the world into the decade of the Great Depression and families would be hard pressed to find anything more than love to offer their children.
Nevertheless, Vernon and his older sister Elaine had a wonderful childhood. Turlock was a small town where everyone knew everyone else and families looked out for each other. When they were not in school or doing chores at home, the children played together outdoors. There were sandlot baseball games, bicycle rides all over town, exploring neighborhoods, and pulling pranks.
One of Vernon’s favorite memories was of a day spent with his sister and Cub Scout friends walking on top of some big barrels they found on an empty lot. They mastered rolling the barrels under their feet, but the next morning their little legs were so sore they couldn’t get out of bed.
Vernon’s high school years took place during World War II. He was a tall, strong teenager and loved working in the fields and orchards during the summer. He went on night time blackout patrols with his Scout troop, making sure no light was visible from the windows of Turlock’s homes and businesses. He bought war bonds and followed the news. He later said that the most amazing news he ever heard was the news that an atomic bomb had exploded over Hiroshima, Japan, completely destroying the city.
Modesto Junior College was Vernon’s first destination after high school, but he soon transferred to the College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, then on to the College of Engineering where he became a master draftsman, a skill he would use the rest of his life as a designer and builder of homes and commercial buildings.
In 1948 Vernon met Wilma Thiessen and though she was only fifteen years old, they quickly fell in love. They eloped July 9,1949, and started a wonderful marriage that lasted for almost seventy-one years. Sadly, Wilma passed away in June, 2020, but Vernon’s heart was perpetually filled with joy and gratitude for the years they had together.
Between 1950 and 1955 Vernon and Wilma had four children, Cheryl, Daryl, Richard, and Valerie. The family lived in Turlock until 1965 when Vernon left his job as a hydrographer at the Turlock Irrigation District and took a position as General Manager of the Chowchilla Water District.
The family enjoyed their new community and quickly made friends, but the most significant part of their life at this time was when Vernon and Wilma opened their home to men and women from nearby military bases, inviting all comers to meals, recreation, and Bible studies. Often there were dozens of visitors enjoying Carson hospitality on the weekends.
The 1970’s and ‘80’s brought twelve grandchildren into the family, and eventually those grandchildren added seventeen great-grandchildren. We were very sad when Daryl passed away after a long illness in 1992 at age 39. Daryl’s wife Delores preceded him in death in 1984 when she drowned in river rafting accident.
A quick review shows that there have been forty-six descendants of Vernon and Wilma – and Vernon knew all their names and prayed for each of them weekly.
The bedrock of Vernon’s life was his deep, abiding faith in Jesus Christ, nurtured by his constant study of the Bible. He often woke in the night, switched on a lamp and prayed and read Scripture for an hour or more. In the morning his face glowed as he talked about how wonderful his time with the Lord had been.
One of Vernon’s favorite verses was Isaiah 54:13: “All your children will be taught by the Lord and great will be their peace.”
In August 2022 Vern participated in a nationwide Zoom gathering with people who had been part of the Carson’s home-based ministry more than fifty years ago. Many fond memories were shared and much gratitude was lavished on Vern that evening.
May this be the lasting legacy of Vernon Carson’s life, that all of his descendants and spiritual children will be taught by the Lord and live in his peace.
Celebration of Life on Sept. 24, 2022 at 10AM at Allen Mortuary, 247 N. Broadway, Turlock. Lunch following across the street at Carnegie Arts Center.