Basin pioneer Ava Barton remembered |

Basin pioneer Ava Barton remembered

Susan Wood

Jim Grant/Tahoe Daily Tribune file Alva Barton with her dog in August 2002.

To the people who knew and loved her, Alva Barton left life at age 97 in the same way she maneuvered through it – with a sense of humor.

She died at Folsom Mercy Hospital Monday, prompting family and friends to remember the woman known for her pioneering spirit.

Her nephew, Bill Ledbetter, recalled a story of the South Lake Tahoe matriarch waking up from a nap in the hospital on May 30. Her caregiver, Linda Souza, was surprised to see her awake, joking: “We were just talking about you,” Ledbetter said.

“Do you know Alva said: ‘Well, that’s a pretty good subject,'” he recounted her joking.

Indeed, she makes an ideal subject for those peeking into the early years of Tahoe.

She and her sister, Fay Ledbetter, operated a dairy farm between Folsom and Lake Tahoe called Lake Valley Creamery from which they delivered milk, cream and eggs on wagon throughout the South Shore.

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“She was a kind person – even when I was a tyrant at (age) 7 or 8,” Bill Ledbetter said.

Along with fond memories of truck runs with his mother and aunt, Ledbetter remembered Barton calling her pet lamb, Charlie, and having the other sheep follow. Even though lambs were her favorite dish, she befriended them.

Barton’s affinity for animals stayed with her through the years – including the love of her dog, Susie, which stayed at the ranch house at the “Y.”

Charlie Carr worked across the street at Lampson’s Market.

“She was always jolly. I always saw her funny side,” he said.

In an interview with the Tahoe Daily Tribune before her 96th birthday, Barton said a highlight of her life was riding a Gold Wing motorcycle three years ago.

Marjorie Springmeyer shared thoughts on the old roads of Tahoe with Barton.

“She had the most incredible giggle. She got such a kick out of everything,” Springmeyer said. “I’m shocked about Alva. She is the last of the true women pioneers at the lake. I just loved her. That’s all I can say.”

Barton’s funeral services are slated for 2 p.m. Friday at the East Lawn Memorial Park, 43rd Street and Folsom Boulevard.

– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at