Category Archives: Generation 4


AGNES CHRISTINE LIGDAFemale View treeBorn: 1911-12-11
Children: none
Siblings: none

Agnes was the only child born to  Peter Ligda and Agnes Magneson.  She was born on December 11, 1911 at Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley.  Her parents were then living at 2712 College Avenue in Berkeley.

Her father abandoned the family in 1912, so Agnes was raised by her mother.  There was little contact with the Ligdas.  Barbara belied Agnes attended Berkeley High School.  The 1930 City Directory lists her as living with her mother at 2721 1/2 College Avenue.

Edith believed Agnes attended the University of California during some of the time her cousin, Victor, was there between 1924 and 1928.  They did know of one another.  Barbara beleived Agnes attended after 1928, which is more likely given her age at that time.

Agnes was probably unmarried at the time of her grandmother’s death in 1931 as her family name is Ligda in the obituary.  Edith believed she later marrried, but could not recall her married name.  It may have been Byers as the informant at her mother’s death in 1985 is listed as a granddaughter named Judith Byers then living at 7096 Ann Arbor Way in Dublin, California.

In the 1960’s, I tried to locate people who knew Agnes or her mother in the area around 2712 College Avenue.  In 2001, I tried to locate people who know them in the area around 7096 Ann Arbor Way in Dublin.  I was unsuccessful.


MILDRED SCOTTFemale View treeBorn: 1906-03-28Died: 1973-08-15
Father: UnspecifiedMother: Unspecified
Siblings: none

Mildred was Ted Ligda’s third wife.  She was the mother of his only child, Alan Ligda, who was born on June 4, 1942, prior to the marriage which occurred on December 2, 1943.  They were divorced on April 22, 1954.  What little we know of her is included in Ted and Alan’s biographies.


THEODORE PAUL LIGDAMale View treeBorn: 1912-01-28Died: 1997-10-20

Ted was the third child and second son born to Paul and Edith Ligda.  Shortly after his birth, his father’s business collapsed forcing his father to leave home to find work to support the family.  Hence, Ted was raised primarily by his mother during his pre school years.

He was enrolled in kindergarten at 4 1/2 in August, 1916.  His mother noted that he was, “very proud of himself as a schoolboy.”  Ted developed well.  In 1921, when he was 9, his mother observed:

“I guess Theodore is our cleverest . . . His teacher told me yesterday he did the best of 100 children of his age [in the Binet tests], and was by far the most intelligent and advanced child in her room altho the youngest.”

Ted attended the Trinity Episcopalian Church where he was confirmed in March, 1923.  His mother felt Rector Thomas was a good influence for Ted and commented: “Wouldn’t it be fine if Theo should enter the ministry eventually?”

Like his older brother, Victor, Ted was an active Boy Scout.  As early as 1924, he attended summer camps.  Ted enjoyed scouting and remained in the program for several years, earning several merit badges.  His mother mentioned, in the summer of 1927, that Ted went to Scout Camp, “as usual.”

Ted spoke fondly of his Grandmother Ligda who died on November 27, 1926, when he was 14.  He was fascinated with her ability to speak in so many languages.  He also got along well with his Aunt Val who taught him some elementary Russian.

Despite the normal influences of his family, the Scouts, and the Church, Ted was attracted to trouble.  His mother first mentioned it in a letter of September  5, 1928:

“Ted is in trouble again; last week he rented a new Chrysler roadster to make a splurge after school for an hour or two and let a 16 yr old girl drive it.  She ran into a stone porch, and damaged the machine to about the extent of $80, and the porch too.  I don’t know yet what it will cost to repair the porch.  Legally he or we are not liable, but Paul and I don’t feel we can let him do anything but earn the money to pay for it.  He got a job today as a linotype operator 1 at 7 cents an hour, to work two nights a week for six or seven hours.  I hope he can keep it till he earns the money, but he is better at getting jobs than holding them.  Hasn’t much perseverance or energy.”

Ted liked the work and stayed with the job.  His mother was duly impressed, writing: “Ted is certainly doing wonders and deserves due praise.  It is so nice of him to be good so I can be happy here not worrying over him.”

Ted graduated from high school in 1929 during the Great Depression.  He considered college, but felt the expense too great and felt he should work instead.  His Grandmother Griswold sent him some money as a graduation gift.  His mother was not impressed with the results:

” . . . about your gift to Ted . . . I was very much annoyed that he should waste the money you need for comfort and necessities.  Ted has been working most of the time since he graduated, and has paid only $20 on his debt, spending the rest of the money for foolishness . . . It seems wrong that Ruth should be spading the garden while your money goes to give presents to lazy and husky boys like Ted . .  Of course, you didn’t realize that Ted is so wasteful; if I had known that he had the money, I would have seen that it went in some sensible way . . .[he] does not seem inclined to make the financial strain any easier on [us].”

According to his sister, Barbara, Ted came to the attention of the authorities for writing worthless checks.  The checks were passed so skillfully that, at first, the Police did not believe it had been done by a juvenile.  Ted was held overnight in Juvenile Hall before being released to his parents.  Later, according to his sister-in-law, Caroline, he compounded his problems by forging his Aunt Val’s name on a Capwell’s charge account and also by taking money from her.  He was declared a Ward of the Juvenile Court.  There was some concern that he would be institutionalized, but the Judge took a liking to him and allowed him to ship out as a member of a crew.  Ted was 17 at the time.

Ted’s maritime career lasted until his ship reached New York.  There, he jumped ship and made his way to his mother’s family home in Worthington, Ohio.  He spent Thanksgiving of 1929 with his Grandmother Griswold.  She reported he, “was not a bit of trouble,” the few days he was with her before going on to Cleveland to stay with his Aunt Carrie.  She thought him a, “fine young man.”  From Cleveland, Ted went on to Chicago where he stayed with his Uncle George Griswold.  His mother visited him there in July of 1930.  She observed:

“He is terribly thin and stooped.  I am worried about him.  I got him a hearty breakfast and gave him some money also.  He wanted to come with me to Worthington, but the fare one way is $11.  I stayed in Chicago 3 hours visiting him in the station and walking around the streets.  He does not want to come home yet, but I think he ought to on account of his health.  He says if he came without any money, that would be “another failure.”  Ted thought he might come down [to Worthington] after he has had a pay day.  I advised him not to but to use the money for food.”

While in Chicago, Ted attended the Greek Orthodox Church where he met Olga Brashavetz, 2 the eldest daughter in a family which had immigrated to the United States from Russia.  Her parents managed what Ted described as, “not a very classy apartment building” on Cornelia Avenue.  After a brief romance, Ted and Olga secretly married.  After the marriage was discovered, her parents insisted on a formal church ceremony after which they provided the newlyweds an apartment.  Ted and Olga lived in the apartment a short time before moving to California.

Ted and Olga made their first California home with his parents at 6165 Chabot Road.  Adjustments were awkward.  Ted’s marriage was the first for any of the Ligda’s children.  His wife came from a family which gathered frequently to drink and socialize.  Olga liked her father-in-law, Paul, who shared her Russian heritage.  She felt he went out of his way to make her welcome and comfortable, but her mother-in-law, Edith, was too austere for her liking.  She felt Edith looked down on her because her parents were immigrants.  After Paul’s death in 1932, Olga felt more estranged and homesick for Illinois.

With the help of her sister-in-law, Barbara, Olga got work as a life guard at the Woman’s Athletic Club.  She was elated to get out of the house and to earn some money.  With her earnings, she and Ted were able to rent their own apartment

at 2346 Valdez Street in Oakland. 3  They developed a circle of friends which included Meryl Grinton Jones, who was to become Ted’s next wife.  Olga and Ted separated in 1933. 4  Ted returned to his mother’s home on Chabot Road.  In January, 1934, his sister-in-law, Caroline observed:

“Ted is out of a job and actually lazy.  I never saw two brothers so different as Vic and Ted.  Ted continuously raves about his girl friends.  He is skinny and stays out ’til 3 or 4 in the morning and sleeps ’til 3 in the afternoon.  He irritates his mother, but she says she doesn’t want to excite him.  It’s bad for him.”

On June 10, 1934, Ted enlisted in the Marines.  He was initially assigned to a base at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo.  His military career reflects he was twice reduced in rank to Private.  Nonetheless he completed his enlistment and was discharged at the expiration of his term of enlistment on June 9, 1938.  He returned to live with his mother 5 and found work as a printer and linotype operator.  He enjoyed the work and developed considerable skill.  He eventually acquired an interest in a linotype shop, but gave it up in 1940 to go to work for  the Gazette, a local newspaper.

On June 18, 1939, Ted married Meryl Grinton Jones. 6  In 1940, they rented an apartment at 2318 Leavenworth Street in San Francisco which they shared with Mildred Scott Bennett.  In 1941, Mildred became pregnant with Ted’s child.  Ted and Meryl moved back to Chabot Road with his mother.  In November, Ted left, moved to a rooming house in Vallejo, and took work repairing submarines at Mare Island Naval Shipyard.  Meryl remained at Chabot Road until an interlocutory decree of divorce was granted on November 20, 1942. 7

Mildred gave birth to Ted’s only child, Alan Scott, on June 4, 1942 in San Francisco.  Neither Ted nor Meryl told the family of Alan’s birth.  Ted first shared the news with his brother, Herb, after swearing him to secrecy.  This was probably in October of 1943 when Herb was in California between Army assignments.  Herb convinced Ted to tell their sister, Barbara.  Edith, his mother, did not learn of her grandson’s birth until sometime in 1944, 8 well after Ted’s marriage to Mildred 9 on December 2, 1943.

Ted was not drafted during the War as he was classified as an essential industrial worker.  He worked in the defense industry at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, for Matson, and for Bethlehem Steel Company where he was trained as an instructor.

After the War, Ted and Mildred established a home on the Peninsula.  Ted returned to work as a linotype operator.  He is listed in 1948 as working for the Margaret Davis Co. and at Palopress in Palo Alto, a business he and his wife owned.  At that time, they were living at 700 Menlo Oaks Drive in Menlo Park.

Mildred developed an interest in real estate.  She began speculating in property: buying homes in need or repair, living in them while improving them, then selling at a profit.  Ted helped in the repair of the houses, but had little interest in business and did not like the frequent moves which were required as the homes were sold.  He felt that their differences on these ventures caused the decline in their feelings toward each other.  Ted and Mildred were divorce April 22, 1954.[refMildred remained on the peninsula and continued investing in real estate making a good living.  She became well known in the 1960’s as a leader in the fight to prevent Pacific Gas & Electric Company from extensive construction of overhead power poles.  She never remarried.  She died of cancer in Los Altos on August 15, 1973.   She left 10 acres of land to her son, Alan Ligda, who was also the beneficiary of a $25,000 life insurance policy.[/ref]

Ted remained in Los Altos after his divorce and returned to his work as a linotype operator.  In 1953, he and his sister-in-law, Dorothy, helped his mother bring the Griswold Lineage up-to-date.  Ted printed 200 copies.  He was still living on the peninsula when his brother, Victor, died in 1955.

In 1956, Ted married Mary Ann Woody 10 who he met at a party years earlier.  From 1957 to 1960, they lived at 1662 Laurel Street in San Carlos.  They later moved to a house on Easy Street in Mt. View.   The directories list Ted as a publisher in 1958, 1959, and 1960.  By 1963, Ted owned his own typesetting service in Redwood City.  He and Mary Ann moved to a home they rented in Palo Alto.  Mary Ann inherited a good deal of money from her mother with which she bought a villa on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.  She and Ted moved there about 1965.  He was living there in 1967 when his younger brother, Herb, died.  About that time Mary Ann left Mexico, but Ted remained for some time.  In 1968, he hosted his niece, Carol Ligda, who stayed with him a year while attending school in Merida.  He later returned to the Bay Area and resumed work as a linotype operator. 11  He did not resume living with Mary Ann. 12  For a period, as a relaxation, he played the french horn at a club near Bush and Powell Streets in San Francisco.

In 1974, Ted was the owner and operator of A & P Typesetters at 1526 Stafford Avenue in Redwood City.  Ted was spending the weekend with his mother at her home on Haste Street in Berkeley when she died on April 28, 1974.  He was left a bequest of $2,226.  Family members felt the relatively small bequest reflected Edith’s distaste for her son’s lifestyle.

In 1983, Ted sold his remaining typesetting equipment and returned to Mexico.  He maintained limited contact with the family, primarily with his sister, Barbara, and his sister-in-law, Evelyn.  He rarely contacted his son, Alan, who last heard from him in 1996.  Ted’s was living at Petan 435 Colo Narvarte, Mexico, D. F., a home he shared with his mistress, Enriqueta Faubert, when he died October 20, 1997.  His body was cremated the next day.


  1. This was the occupation he was to keep the rest of his working life.
  2. Olga was born June 13, 1913.  She was 17 when she met Ted who was 18.  According to Olga, Ted told her he came from a very wealthy family which owned a mansion in Oakland (the rented house on Chabot Road); and that his father was a professor at the University.
  3. Ted and Olga are listed at that address in the 1933 City Directory.  Ted’s occupation is listed as a salesman.
  4. Olga remained in the Bay Area for a while.  She was listed in the 1934 City Directory as an Assistant Instructor at the Woman’s Athletic Club living at 32 Moss Avenue in Oakland.  She was still living in San Francisco in 1937, but she eventually divorced Ted and returned to Chicago where she later remarried Carl Rhodehamel.  Carl died in 1942.  Olga died in June, 1980
  5. He is listed at the Chabot Road address in the 1935, 1937, and 1938 City Directories.
  6. Meryl was born November 22, 1916.  She was 22 at the time of the marriage.  According to Ted’s sister-in-law, Caroline, she came from a background in which she had been catered to by others.  While the couple lived on Chabot Road, Meryl expected Edith, her mother-in-law, to cater to her.  They did not get along.
  7. There are references to Meryl in several of Edith Ligda’s letters.  Those references indicate Meryl was in some way connected with the theater.  She was said to have left Chabot Road in 1942 for New York where she had a job with the Metropolitan Opera.  In November, 1943 when the divorce from Ted was final, she was reported to be in Hollywood working as a, “concert manager or something of the sort.”
  8. We do not know how Edith learned of Alan’s birth.  Possibly, Mildred told her.  Upon her discovery, she wrote Herb (who was then in Panama) to convince Ted to tell her directly.  On January 21, 1945, she wrote Herb to tell him Ted had phoned and, “talked about his child.”
  9. Mildred was born on a farm in Linn County, Kansas, the only child of William Grant Scott and Clara Ethel Sommers.  She was never certain of her birth date.  She used March 28, 1910, but that was inaccurate.  Her son, Alan, has a postcard she wrote in 1912 which convinced him her correct date of birth was March 28, 1906.  She had previously been married to Leslie Bennett, a British concert pianist,  who died in Oakland on September 24, 1940.
  10. Mary Ann was born August 12, 1915.
  11. Ted was an exceptionally talented typographer.  His views and opinions were sought by coworkers, printers, and book designers.  He set quite a few books for Hoover Institution Press and is mentioned in the forewords of Martin Anderson’s “Welfare/The Political Economy of Welfare Reform in the United States,” [Stanford, California, 1978] and his “Conscription/A Select and Annotated Bibliography,” [Stanford, California, 1976].
  12. Ted did escort Mary Ann to the memorial services after his mother’s death in 1974.  At the time, she was living in a hotel.  Mary Ann died June 4, 1993.  She was then listed as living in Apartment 325 at 1569 Jackson Street in Oakland.


CAROLINE FIELDFemale View treeBorn: 1914-08-14Died: 1988-05-24
Father: UnspecifiedMother: Unspecified
Siblings: none

Caroline Wagner was one of the four children born to Katie Jung (b 3/10/81, d 2/1/63) and Charles Wagner (b 12/23/72, d 9/25/53).  She had a twin brother, Carl, and two sisters: Gertrude (b 10/12/12, d 3/28/89), and Catherine (b 5/27/16).  Her recollections of her childhood were not happy, at least as reflected in this undated letter to her sister:

“You are a little unfair in thinking that my childhood was so “ideal” compared to yours.  At least you learned to take responsibility and to do things but Ma always thought I was consumptive and weak and just as I was made to feel like nobody I always was made to believe I couldn’t do anything.  None of us ever had a chance to plan things or suggest things because we were “too dumb.”  Everyone of us had a bum deal – not only you.  Each of us held a different position in the family and were treated accordingly.  You and Kay at least felt that Pa had some affection for you but I can’t remember even one time in my whole life that Pa ever showed me any love or affection and Ma’s affection was always so shaky.  Remember the tantrums she used to have – tearing at her hair and biting her hands and screaming to get us to mind her?  What a way to bring up kids.  And how she resented us growing up and finding out that she wasn’t frightening us anymore and we could figure things out for ourselves.  Boy, oh boy!”

Caroline graduated from LeMoyne Grade School in Chicago on January 30, 1929.  She attended high school, but never graduated.  She continued to brood about her upbringing, but tempered it with hope:

“My life, as long as I can remember it, has not been nice at all.  I have really never enjoyed myself, as I would like to.  I hope I do have some good times before I’m too old to enjoy life . . .  To tell the truth, now I am looking forward to being a woman of 22 with a lot of common sense and ideals and maybe a husband and a nice home.  I hope it comes true.”

In June of 1933, when she was 19, Caroline met Victor Ligda, a high school teacher from California on a summer automobile trip across the country.  He was visiting the Brashavetez Family, managers of the apartment building on Cornelia Avenue where Caroline lived.  There was an immediate attraction.  Altho Victor continued his trip after their meeting, he returned to Chicago on August 20.  The next day, they went to a 19 inning White Sox – Yankee game in which Babe Ruth and Lou Gerhig played.  On August 22, they were married at a City Hall ceremony with her sister, Gertrude, standing up for her.  A hurried family celebration followed.  On August 23, they left for California.  In a letter from Cheyenne, Wyoming on August 27, Caroline wrote:

” . . . you can all see what a wonderful husband I have and how lucky Gertrude is to have him for a brother-in-law.  I hope she does the same to me some day soon.”

The Victor Ligdas stayed briefly with his mother, Edith, in Oakland, before leaving for Dorris, California for the 1933-34 school year.  Caroline enrolled as a student at the high school where Victor was teaching. 1  Country living was completely foreign to her.  She was not accustomed to living in an area where everyone knew everyone and took an interest in their affairs.  She was somewhat of a curiosity as a student.  When she became pregnant, she felt the local women were shunning her.  That led to feelings of isolation.  In November, she wrote: “Sometimes I feel as tho I will try to forget it all and rush back to Chicago, and it isn’t because of homesickness either!!!”

Victor finally agreed that it would be better if she returned to Chicago to have the baby.  In March, she returned to her parents’ apartment at 915 Cornelia Avenue.  Three months later, after an argument with her mother, she returned to Oakland where her son, Paul, was born on July 13, 1934.  She described her routine as a mother in a letter to her sister of October 8:

“I get up about 9 . . . and eat.  Then I see how the baby is . . . and wash the diapers and other clothes.  Then up again to clean the rooms and then Vic is home for lunch . . . Then I must prepare some-thing for him . . . and then clean up our things and then its time for the baby’s sunbath . . . Then I must bathe him and then feed him again.  Then it is about 2:30 . . . I have a chance to get myself cleaned up and . . . take the baby out for a long walk – never less than two miles.  Twice a week I walk out to the college with the baby and the buggy and get Vic.  We fold the buggy up and stick it in the back of the car and are off for home.  Then it is time to feed the baby again and then eat supper and help clean the kitchen or do it alone and then I go to gym or short-hand.  And then hurry home for it is time to feed the babe again and then slumber.  So you see I have very little time for anything else that I would like to do.”

In the same letter, she mentioned that her mother-in-law, Edith, lost her job, the family had no income, and just $300 in savings.  It got her down:

“We are going to have a horrid Xmas here.  No money or cheeriness or nothing.  I wish we could come East for the holidays . . . I hate it here and always shall.”

At the same time, she was able to write that when: “Vic gets “a permanent job and we have our own place again,” some of her family might come to California to visit.  Clearly, she was homesick and troubled that her family could not share the joy of her son.  Christmas of 1934 was particularly hard for her.  She was not getting along with her mother-in-law.  She suspected Edith’s Christmas gift of a 10 cent cup and saucer was, “out of spite” because she drank too much coffee in the morning.  She was, nonetheless, impressed with San Francisco and said she would like to live there.

In 1936, she was again pregnant and shared some of the experience by letter with her sister, Gertrude, who was also pregnant with her first child.  Caroline warned:  ” . . . a baby ties you down as nothing else does.  But then you’ll have mama.  I bet she’s thrilled and happy about all of us.  Damn it, I wish we lived closer to you.”

Her daughter, Susan, was born in Oakland on October 7, 1936.   The problems with Edith, her mother-in-law, continued.  Caroline commented Edith was being: ” . . . rather nasty to Vic and me lately and it makes him so mad.”  Shortly thereafter, they left Edith’s home and moved to San Francisco where Victor was teaching.  Their first San Francisco address was 5415 California Street  Later addresses were 430 14th Avenue and 515 4th Avenue.  Times were better financially.  In December of 1939, Caroline’s sister, Gertrude brought her son, Fred, for a two month visit.

On June 11, 1940, Caroline wrote her parents a letter in which she commented on the War relecting some of her feelings:

“Now that Italy is in the War, it looks more horrible.  How she could turn against her friends in the last War seems awful, but she is not a strong fighting nation and needs lots of help.  If the Allies hadn’t been so stingy to Germany after the last War, the War might have been averted.  Don’t think that I am siding with Germany but the people there have to live same as anywhere else and they need food and raw materials in crder to live and the Allies wished to deny them that.  Just the same, I hope Germany loses for the sake of democracy.  If the Allies can hold out a few more months, they should have a chance as Germany is bound to run out of gasoline and raw materials for new equipment unless she defeats the Allies before then.  Nuts on the whole situation.”

On August 26, 1940, Caroline took her children to Chicago for their first visit with their maternal grandparents.  During her stay, Victor completed a move to a better flat at 624 3rd Avenue.  He also disposed of a stray cat that had adopted the children.  Caroline and Victor agreed to tell the children the cat got left home to look for them and probably got lost.

By 1941, Victor had over 8 years experience in teaching and felt his future in the profession was secure.  Caroline, despite her huband’s preference that she not work, took couching lessons to pass the civil service examinations.  That year, the Ligdas purchased their only home at 559 44th Avenue in the Richmond District where they had been renting almost five years.  He interrupted that career after the outbreak of the War by volunteering for Army duty.  In 1943, he was sent to Officers Training Schools in Florida and Alabama.  Caroline remained in San Francisco with the children.  She was lonely writing Victor that the children: ” . . . miss you so much, at times it’s pitiful.  Wish they wouldn’t talk so much about it; it makes me feel so terrible too.”  She was apprehensive: “I just seem to feel that, perhaps, I’ll never see you again and the thought almost drives me crazy.”  She also wrote:

“Daisy and Louise went to Santa Maria for a week today and 1/2 hour after they left Dick called me up and asked me to go out with him!  He was so insistent and I was so insulted and he pulled the old gag about liking me for years and years.  I put him in his place politely but firmly . . . Daisy would commit murder if she knew he called me.  It’s a slap in the face for her and for me too.  I love you.”

Caroline took part time as a typist for the U.S. Civil Service Commission complaining that she was paid $11.33 for four days work when she figured she should get at least $18.  She did not enjoy the work.  It was too easy for her.  She wondered how others could be satisfied doing work that was so repetitious.

In June of 1943, after Victor was transferred to the Santa Ana Army Air Base, Caroline took the children to be with him.  The family rented a home at the corner of 4th and Acacia Streets in Garden Grove, California from June of 1943 until February of 1944 when they found a larger home at 1221 So. Van Ness Avenue in Santa Ana.  Caroline celebrated her 30th birthday that year.  She wrote:

“The scene: a 30 year old woman, married, with two children, living a very unsettled life at this time.  She is anxious to return with her family to S. F. to establish her own home again tho her ideas of “home” have changed so in the past year, that she doubts if the house in S. F. will ever satisfy her again.  She now wants an old 2 story home with 4 bedrooms – a house that can be fixed up to shout good living and graciousness to all who enter it.  She wants nice things such as sterling silver, good linens, comfortable rather than handsome furniture.  And personnel things as sewing machine, desk, etc.  She knows that, God willing, she’ll get it all in good time because her husband is of the same nature.

“Right now she is primarily interested in her immediate future and wonders where her husband will be sent.  At times she is glad to be an army wife – secretly proud of her 1st Lt., but lately has had to fight down regretting the step he took as she can once again see her family apart.

“She likes people – in fact having friends is very important to her.  She always helps a friend once she’s made one.  Her husband admires her poise (as he says) in meeting new people and hitting it off.  Her husband says she looks the same as the day he married her, tho she knows it’s not true.  She’s only gained 5 lbs in 11 years, but there’s no denying she’s 30!!  Her husband has told her repeatedly that he couldn’t have married a better companion, mother, and wife.  She loves to hear those things and he never fails to give her a compliment.  She keeps him laughing, but has caused him many painful times.  If she isn’t happy, then he is sad too.  She likes a good time and he likes to have her gay and witty.  At a party he talks about her good points to anyone who’ll listen.  Of course he has to have a few drinks to help him get started.

“She drives a car – her husband always expecting her to crack-up some day.  But only once in 4 years has she run into anyone and that was merely a touch.

“She sews a lot and right now is making Xmas presents for the women in the family.

“She loves her children dearly but, thru impatience, made them so independent they could get along without her . . . Her husband wishes she were more strict with the children but their teachers have said that everything they do shows excellent home training.

“She hopes to see her Chicago people soon and would love to have her husband stationed somewhere so they could all stop in Chicago on the way.  These days “wishful thinking” is a great part of her brain and she makes perfectly elegant plans knowing that they never could materialize.  She suspects, with every right, that her little family is on the verge of being separated again.  When the thought overpowers her she is left limp and weak.  She wishes she could get over being such a scared brat.”

During the period the family lived in Southern California, the Ligdas became good friends with Floyd and Dorothy Mills who were neighbors in Garden Grove.  The Mills’ had two children about the same ages as Paul and Susan.  Floyd Mills was often away working in Alaska.  Dorothy Mills and her children and the Ligdas did a great deal together.  In October of 1944, Caroline hosted a small dinner party for Dorothy’s 30th birthday.  Victor and Dorothy were to become romantically involved.

Victor was transferred to Carlsbad Army Air Field in New Mexico where the family lived in what Caroline described as: “our hovel” for two months until there was another transfer, this time to San Antonio, Texas.  Unable to find housing anywhere near San Antonio after weeks of motel living, Caroline took the children to Chicago to stay with her parents until Victor could find housing in San Antonio.  She first stayed with her parents at 917 Cornelia Avenue, but later moved in with Mike & Gertrude Brashavetz, her sister and brother in law, at 3529 N. Wilton.  Caroline found office work to help with expenses and accumulate some savings.  It was four months before Victor was able to find an upstairs flat at 215 E. Craig Place in San Antonio.  In March of 1945, the family was again together for three months.  Victor was transferred to Maxwell Field in Alabama.  Fearing more difficulties in finding housing, Caroline returned to San Francisco with the children to await her husband’s discharge when the war ended.

After the War, Victor resumed his teaching career.  Caroline younger sister, Catherine, who had married Wayne Wooster, was living in San Francisco.  There were frequent Wooster-Ligda family gatherings.  On weekends, there were visits to Grandma Ligda in Berkeley where Victor helped keep his mother’s house in repair.  The relationship between Caroline and her mother-in-law was more cordial.  Life as a mother was not completely fulfilling.  By the fall of 1947, she described herself as becoming:

“. . .  very restless and uneasy and there seemed no point in anything and I got to thinking that I was going out of my  mind . . . I had a beautiful home and 2 lovely children whom everyone admired and whose teachers always told me they would go a long way and had wonderful home training.  And so, in desperation, I went to a psychiatrist . .”

She was assigned to Dr. Ken Everts, who was to become a lifelong friend.  She wrote:

“He is the only person I’ve ever met that I can feel completely myself and at  ease . . .  I don’t love him nor does he love me – it is just a platonic friendship.  And we do have fun together!”

The Ligdas remained in touch with the Mills, but the relationship between Caroline and Dorothy was strained.  In October of 1948, she wrote:

“D. Mills came up with the pup she had promised us and she pulled all her old tricks – belittling me in front of people, acting coy around Vic etc. and so in answer to the letter she wrote when she got home I explained to her that I’ve tried to be nice to her with no success and so I’ll not extend her any more invitations nor accept any from her in the future.  I should have done that 2 years ago.”

In fact, her husband had been having an affair with Dorothy since his discharge from the Army in 1946.   In 1949, the situation came into the open.  Victor left home and was eventually to sue for divorce and marry Dorothy Mills.  Caroline wrote:

“My heart is broken –  this is worse than death – and I feel so inadequate and so insecure and so unsure of myself and I am filled with deep concern over my children for whom I’ve always wanted the best.  They are filled with insecurity too . . . I dropped out of the sorority and I avoid the people Vic and I knew.  I simply do not like to be with people if I am unhappy and I’ve had two months of making excuses for Vic’s absence.  From now on I’m going to say that we’ve separated and let it go at that.  But as far as friends go, I still have all my neighbors . . . and I have the opportunity to make new friends too . . . The kids and I get along beautifully.  I’m so thankful that I’ve not said one unkind word to them about their father . . . I am deeply sorry that my marriage had to go on the rocks but, looking back, I can see what a struggle I’ve had  . . .”

Victor first  requested separate maintenance, but Caroline wrote:

“I feel now that I’d rather sever the ties completely and start another uncertain life . . . I’ll go to work as soon as I can because it takes 400-500 a month to rear P & S the way I want to do it and to give them the opportunities they need.

“Of course I hope to be married again but must face the fact that maybe I won’t and sometimes it scares me to think I’ll be alone the rest of my life.  And, frankly, I don’t like to work; I’d rather be a housewife. . . I have no special boyfriend and am still hoping some Prince Charming will come along.  He must be nice and he must make good money and he must like me more than I do him.”

Caroline took work as a secretary and office worker.  They left her unfulfilled.  Her natural talents involved meeting and dealing with people and selling.  Jobs which required an office routine bored her.  At the suggestion of her sister, Kay, she became a Real Estate Agent for Ernest N. Dever Realty on Geary Boulevard in San Francisco.  She enjoyed listing and selling houses and became very successful.  In 1951, she was able to take her children on vacation to Sun Valley, Idaho.  In 1952, she sold the house on 44th Avenue and bought a larger house at 34 Pt. Lobos in San Francisco.  She bought her first new car – a Buick. 2   By August of 1952, she was feeling giddy:  “I feel that I am living too fast and things are happening too fast.  All good things, but it scares me a little to think that so much is coming my way.”

On September 25, 1953, Caroline’s father died.  Her mother survived him until February 1, 1963.  In that period, Caroline and Kay took increasing responsibility for her support and care.

In 1953, Caroline met William Field 3, a salesman.  She introduced him to the real estate profession and won him a position of the staff of Ernest N. Dever.  He quickly became the top salesman earning a great deal and living well.  On July 1, 1954, she wrote:

“Bill and I sure have a lot of good times . . . Sometimes I feel that I would like to marry him but then I know if I seriously thought about it I wouldn’t do it.  I would have to do it on the spur of the moment so if you ever get a wire signed Mrs. Wm. Field you’ll know who it is.  I wonder about myself a lot and how I unconsciously don’t care to give up my way of life, yet I know it can’t always continue like this.  Bill is very much in love with me but I’m just not too sure of my own feelings and certainly don’t want to get myself engaged and unengaged again . . . I’ll just let time take care of all this and Bill is willing to wait.”

They were married 17 days later.  Bill moved from his apartment to her home on Pt. Lobos.  Two years later, she sold her home.  They purchased a new home at 75 Skyline Drive in Daly City where she would live the rest of her life.

In 1956, her son, Paul, graduated from college.  Her daughter, Susan, had met and fallen in love with her husband-to-be, Paul Lindstedt.  Caroline treated both to a European trip.  She flew to New York to see her children sail on the Queen Elizabeth on February 17, 1956.  Susan returned to marry Paul on August 19, 1956.  When Paul returned, she purchased a four unit apartment building in his name at 77 Miguel Street in San Francisco.  Her son lived in the building until 1960 when his work took him to the East Coast.  She then assumed management and continued to operate it the remainder of her life.

Sometime after Caroline earned her real estate broker license, she and Bill left Ernest N. Dever to open their own real estate office: Field Realty at 163 School Street in Daly City.  They were very successful.  Together they acquired several pieces of property, but they did not agree on the management of their property or on the handling of the money they made.  She preferred to operate each piece of property at a steady profit.  Bill Field preferred to resell properties as soon as it could be done at a reasonable profit.  She preferred to save.  He spent what he made.  Caroline always said Bill knew how to live well.  They took a European tour in 1958 which included a visit to the Brussels World Fair.  She enjoyed good things, but was basically conservative in her life preferences and could not adjust to Bill’s impulsive way of life.  They separated in 1964.  She wrote:

“Kay said she wrote you of my depression about Bill and so tomorrow I go to court for the first chapter.  I’ve only seen Bill once in two weeks and he does not come into the office at all anymore.  I feel funny inside today, but feel that I am doing the only thing possible to try to ease the tension and “unrest,” and then I’ll try to build my life again for the third time!  I may be in for a long, hard battle or maybe not.”

They were divorced on October 28, 1965.  She obtained title to their home and two rental houses in the settlement.  She never remarried.

After her divorce, Caroline continued her work as a Real Estate Broker under the name Field Realty.  She continued to be successful, but no longer had a desire to accumulate property and steadily decreased the time she devoted to business eventually closing the School Street Office and operating out of her home.  At times, she felt depressed.  In 1967, she wrote:

“I find myself slipping into depression despite the activities I try to get involved in . . . I live alone and I work alone and I am alone and I wouldn’t recommend that to anyone . . .”

In 1966, she bought a dog, Dodo, who she loved dearly.  In 1977, when Dodo became ill, she had to put him to sleep.  She wrote:

“My dog is dead.  I lost my friend.  He loved me.  I loved him.  He could depend on me.  He loved bedtime – he knew he’d get his treats and then could settle down at the foot of the bed.  I miss him so much.”

She developed a deep friendship with her nephew, John Wagner, an extremely successful stock broker.  That friendship included frequent telephone contact and occasional trips to Chicago where John always treated her to a fine time and saw that she was introduced to those he worked with.

She became an important part of the lives of her six grandchildren: Susan’s children: Pamela born October 8, 1957, David born March 18, 1959, and Paul born May 10, 1961; and Paul’s children: Jill born November 15, 1964, Jay born August 4, 1966, and John born February 14, 1968.  She taught each of them to call her “Pretty Lady,” rather than “Grandma,” and each of them did until, as young adults, they adopted the nickname, “P. L.”  Eventually she became known by that name in the both her son’s and daughter’s families.  Her great-grandchildren, Jason Cook, born April 3, 1987, and Michele Lindstedt, born March 1, 1987, were being taught that name at the time of her death.

After attending a Billy Graham Crusade in the early 1970’s, Caroline became active in the church.  She began bible studies at the Church of the Highlands in San Bruno where she built a strong circle of friends.  Her religious interest helped her form bonds with her daughter’s family and in-laws, David and Ethel Lindstedt of Scotts Valley, California, all of whom were devout Christians.  The Lindstedts made Caroline a part of many of their activities including two trips to Hong Kong in 1982 and 1984.

On April 28, 1988, while on a trip with the Lindstedts to Southern California, Caroline suffered a seizure from the spread of cancer to the brain.  She was taken to the hospital where she was stabilized enough that she could travel.  Against the advice of her doctor, she refused to be admitted to a hospital where she feared her life would be unnecessarily artificially prolonged.  Unable to care for herself, she went to her daughter’s home in Menlo Park where she died on May 24, 1988.  At her request she was cremated and her remains interred with those of her parents at Olivet Memorial Park in Colma, California.  She left an estate of cash and property worth about 3/4 of a million dollars to her two children.


  1. Caroline did well in her studies, earning 1 A and 4 B’s in her first semester.
  2. Caroline would never again buy a car that was used.
  3. William was born October 22, 1925 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  He had a daughter, Kathleen , by a previous marriage born February 19, 1948 in San Francisco.


ALEXANDER DONSKYMale View treeBorn: 1887
Father: UnspecifiedMother: Unspecified
Children: none
Siblings: none

Alexander Donsky married Olga Alexine in Russia in June of 1913.  At the time he was about 25 years old and a medical student.  They had a son, Vladimir, who was born in 1913 and died at five months.  Their second child, Olga, was born March 9/22, 1915 in Odessa.  What little we know of the family is included in Olga’s biography.


MYRON GEORGE HERBERT LIGDAMale View treeBorn: 1920-01-10Died: 1967-10-22

Herb was the last of Paul (then 47) and Edith (then 36) Ligda’s four children.  At his birth, his brothers, Vic and Ted, were 12 and 8; his sister, Barbara, was 10.  The family was living at 467 Fairmount Avenue in Oakland.  His mother was hoping for another daughter, but expressed no disappointment with her third son:

“Little Herbert is a dear.  I love him most to pieces.  He is ugly, but not so much as some of the others were, so I guess he’ll turn out presentable.  He is not fat, but very large, with big hands and feet especially, not very much hair and I guess he’ll be about the same complexion as Victor, medium light.”

Herb’s brothers and sister were fond of him.  Barbara liked to play Mother and feed him.  Ted liked playing with him.  As a preschooler, he liked to wander, so his mother pinned a note to his back with his name and address  in the event he escaped her view.  He attended Kindergarten at Peralta School, later attending Claremont and Chabot Grade Schools in Oakland.  In 1928, his mother took him for a visit to her Family in Worthington, Ohio.  They visited her brother’s farm.  Herb wrote how much he enjoyed helping stack hay and riding on a hay wagon.  He was also taken on a day trip to Cleveland and treated to a baseball game between the Yankees and the Indians in which Babe Ruth played.

He was very bright.  At 7, his I.Q. measured 137 and he was taking French lessons from a neighborhood teacher.  By 9, he was proficient on the typewriter.  He was an accomplished swimmer and diver at 10.

Herb joined Boy Scout Troop SSS 103 of Oakland when he was 12 – a few months before his father’s untimely death.  On his death bed, his father urged him to be a good Boy Scout and earn lots of merit badges like his brother, Victor.  In the years following his father’s death when his mother’s depression prevented her from being too active in his life, Herb found direction and purpose in scouting.  He became absorbed by all the program offered.  He became a Sea Scout and, despite once sinking a scout boat in the Oakland estuary, developed a life long love for boating.   Herb went on to become an Eagle Scout 1  in 1936 and earned his bronze palm in 1938..

He attended University High School 2 in Oakland.  He played the school orchestra where he met Evelyn Dalke, his wife to be.  Both played the French horn.  As a student, he built a “hot rod” car with parts he salvaged from abandoned cars and scrap yards.  The car served him well until June of 1938 when he reported it, “ . . . out of commission . . . I’m going to tear it apart and it will probably take quite a while for me to save enough money to fix it . . . I can buy another engine for four dollars and fix that up.”

After his graduation in 1936, Herb enlisted in the Marines. 3  He was assigned to a camp at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, California where he was in the band, a job he described as, “ . . . the best job yet.  We sit in the barracks in the afternoon when the sun is hot and watch the infantry drill and dig trenches.  Or else I go for a swim.”  His Marine career did not last.  He was eventually rejected for sea duty as his eyesight was not up to standards.  His failure to qualify remained a disappointment throughout his life.

After leaving the Marines, Herb returned to Oakland to a variety of jobs and projects.  In the summer of 1937, he was a camp counselor.  That same year he was granted an amateur radio license by the Federal Communications Commission.  He made a diving helmet with a communication system which allowed conversation between diver and the tenders.  He and some friends used the helmet in salvage work from sunken ships in the Bay and to do underwater boat repairs.  He also worked for a period with his brother, Ted, in a Linotype shop.

In 1938, at Evelyn’s urging, 4 Herb applied for admission to the University of California.  He spent the summer taking required subjects he had neglected in high school and was admitted in the fall.  He enjoyed the academic environment: “I really like [college life].  The variety, way you can study, schedules, etc., etc., all fit my ideas of enjoyment.”  He did not pass his physicals in time to qualify for crew, but he was a diver on the swimming team, once mentioning that he tried a two-and-a-half off the ten foot board that turned out to be a two-and-a-quarter and put him in the infirmary.  He also played French horn in the Marching Band.  He worked when he could to help pay for his education 5 and that probably preventing his achieving top grades. 6  He graduated in 1942 with an B.S., having majored in astronomy and minoring in physics.

In December, 1941, prior to his graduation, Herb took a job with the U. S. Weather Bureau as an Assistant Observer at the Oakland Airport Station at a salary of $1,620/year.  After his graduation, he was selected for special radiosonde training with the Bureau at National Airport in Washington with a salary of $240 a month.  He was given a draft deferment to complete this training.  Herb marveled that the Government would spend over $1,000 to teach him.  In June, he flew to Washington and rented what he described as a, “hole in the wall,” at 431 East Nelson Street in Alexandria.  He threw himself into the training.  In his spare time, he explored the capitol with its many sights and monuments.  He visited Mt. Vernon.  He managed weekend trips to Boston, New York, and Baltimore.  One day, when leaving the Smithsonian Museum, he witnessed a Presidential Motorcade with President Roosevelt in an open convertible.  Despite the fullness of his days, he missed Evelyn and felt it would be so much more fulfilling if she were with him.  On June 26, Herb wrote: “How’s about dropping everything and coming back here and getting married?”

Evelyn initially accepted, but then declined.  She discussed her feelings with her mother and Herb’s mother.  Both assured her they would support the marriage if she decided to go.  Yet she worried that their future was so uncertain.  She knew Herb would be drafted when his training was over.  There was no assurance that training would keep him out of a war zone where he might be killed or wounded.  Even if he wasn’t sent near a battle, there was no assurance she could join him at any other station.  She felt they should wait.  On July 7, she wrote to explain: “My heart and mind fought a bloody battle . . . I hope that my decision will bring us happiness in time to come but it really isn’t making me happy now.”  Herb phoned in an attempt to persuade her to change her decision.  She declined.  Herb was terribly disappointed.  On July 27, he wrote that he could see no reasons for her refusal except: “ . . . you apparently felt that you owed the hospital too much to leave and that my salary wouldn’t cover expenses.”  He added that he didn’t see: “ . . . how you expect me to dodge my duty to my country and be available for the duration,” and that he meant it when: “ . . . I said I wouldn’t ask you again until after the war is over and it will be up to you to talk me into it if you want to get married before then.”

On completing his training, Herb returned to Oakland and confronted Evelyn.  She later recalled that they were at the Leamington Hotel one evening.  He grabbed her and said: “I’m not asking you anymore.  I’m telling you.  You’ve got to marry me.”  Evelyn 7 set aside her misgivings and accepted.  They were married in Reno on August 22, 1942.  They honeymooned at Lake Tahoe which Herb recalled as: “ . . . an idle week getting acquainted – both learning things about living that we never knew before – long hours lying on the beach – tennis – bicycling – a hike up the river, a boat ride, and long hours of dreamy bliss in the quilt of our little room we liked so well.”

Herb was inducted into the Army in Oakland on August 30, 1942 and sent to the Presidio in Monterey where, after a short orientation, he was assigned to Keesler Field near Biloxi, Mississippi for basic training.   Herb scored very high on his classification examinations.  He was classified as a weather observer specialist.  He was encouraged to apply for Officer Candidate School.  On completing his basic training, Herb was promoted to corporal and assigned as a Student Forecaster to the 4th Weather Squadron at Craig Field near Selma, Alabama.  Evelyn joined him there in November.  She rented a room in Selma and, as she was unlicensed as a nurse in Alabama, took work as a waitress at the Officer’s Club.

Within weeks of Evelyn’s arrival in Alabama, Herb accepted an assignment for special advanced weather training at New York University which, if completed, would result in a commission.  By year’s end, he was in New York to begin the course.  During the initial part of that training, Herb was required to stay in quarters at the University.  When Evelyn followed a few weeks later, she stayed with friends and took work as a nurse.  She found the pay inadequate and the night hours unpleasant.  She did not want to pay $10 to take the examination for a New York nursing license.  She resigned and took work as a sales lady in a department store.

When Herb completed his initial training, he was allowed to leave the University quarters.  He and Evelyn rented what Herb described as a: “seventh heaven walkup — cold in the winter and hot in the summer, but hers and mine,” at 35 West 177th Street on Manhattan.  They enjoyed their time together exploring New York’s many attractions.  Herb completed the Program in September.  He was discharged as an enlisted man “for the convenience of the service,” and sworn in as an officer the next day.

Herb’s initial assignment as an officer was to a base at Thermal near Indio, California.  He and Evelyn joined another couple for the cross country drive.  They visited family in the Bay Area before reporting for duty in October, 1943.  Evelyn found a house in Indio which they shared with another army couple.  Within a month, Herb was told he was one of a few officers selected for special training at Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey.  When he left for his new post, Evelyn returned to Berkeley to stay with her parents.

While training at Ft. Monmouth, Herb was selected as one of a very few candidates for study: “ . . . on equipment of a nature that I can’t disclose.”  Those who completed the training were to be stationed to Army weather zones around the world.  Herb was one of those who completed that training.  After a short leave, allowing him a brief visit with Evelyn in California, Herb was assigned to the Army’s Sixth Weather Squadron in Panama.  He left Miami for that post on February 8, 1944 and reported the next day after an overnight stay in Jamaica.

Herb’s assignment required the installation of radar equipment for use in detecting storms.  Herb loved his work and the responsibility it involved in coordinating jobs with his subordinates and with others.  The number of men under his command grew from single enlisted man on his arrival to 14 enlisted men by the end of his first year.  On August 8, 1944, he was promoted to the rank of 1st Lieutenant.  His work also provided opportunity to see much of the region.  In 1944, he flew to Florida for training with stops in Curacao, Trinidad, St. Lucia, Antigua, Puerto Rico, and Cuba.  In 1945, he went on an inspection tour which took him to Peru, Equador, and Colombia.  Later that year, he went on another tour which took him to Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. 8  He was to receive commendations for his work from his Commanding Officer and from Headquarters.

Herb liked the tropics.  He described his environment as a: “ . . . clean, beautiful post, a great job with all the comforts of home except that which makes it one – a wife.”  He once wrote that he felt: “ . . . slightly guilty at times when I know there are plenty of guys going through hell while I have it easy.”  He dearly missed Evelyn.  It was seven months before he could arrange a short trip to visit her in California after which he returned to Panama for eleven more months of duty before she was allowed to join him in August of 1945.  They shared a small home Herb was assigned near Balboa.  They took classes in the evening.  Both took Spanish and Herb took shorthand while Evelyn took typing.

While in Panama, Herb applied for membership in the Masons.  He described the experience as: “getting religion,” and told Evelyn he felt his membership would make him: “ a better man, father, and husband.”  He commented that:  “ . . . the thing about it that catches my imagination most is its worldwide organization.  The thought of visiting a Chinese, Hindu, English, Russian, or some other country’s Masonic Lodge, giving the symbols and being accepted as a brother really thrills me – it seems so manly, sensible – the way people ought to live with each other!”

At the War’s end, Herb and Evelyn remained in Panama awaiting his discharge.  His superiors urged him to reenlist and remain with the Army’s weather program.  He considered continuing a military career, but he was offered a position with the Meteorology Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology working on a “Weather Radar” project which he felt offered more opportunity.  He accepted that offer and asked that his discharge be processed.  On December 7, 1945, he was promoted to the rank of Captain. 9  In May of 1946, he was transferred to New York were he and Evelyn rented a room for $60 a month while awaiting his discharge which finally came on October 14, 1946.

Herb’s work at M. I. T. paid a salary of $250 a month.  That was reduced when he was accepted into the Masters Program.  He and Evelyn rented a three room apartment in a home owned by one of his coworkers at 26 Florence Avenue in Arlington Heights, Massachusetts.  They were living there on January 22, 1947 when their first child, Richard Worthington, was born.

Herb loved his work.  In 1947, with savings from his years in the Army, he joined a group of his fellow workers in the purchase of a few acres of land in Middlesex County between Lexington and Concord.  They subdivided the land into one acre lots where they worked together to build their own homes – three five room houses in all.   Herb’s house had two bedrooms and one bath.  He reveled in the experience.  The work, he said, went, “slowly, but pretty well . . . the stump pulling and ditch digging has put me in fine shape . . . Our wives and children come out on Sundays and it’s like a picnic.”   He completed work on the exterior before the cold weather; the family moved in with the idea that the interior work could be completed over the winter.  That work lagged.  In 1949, Herb commented: “The house continues along.  I am working on interior finish work which is pleasant, but keeps me broke . . . I am making better than $5,000 per year now [and] almost all of it goes into finishing the house, insurance, and food, so I don’t see much cash anymore.”  In 1950, he wrote: “The house is fairly near the stage of completion and something in the vicinity of $1,000 should do the job (floors, wallpaper, some sort of garage, trim, etc.).”  In 1952, Evelyn wrote: “We are still decorating the inside of the house.  Two weeks ago Herb papered the bedroom and hall.  This weekend he hopes to do some odds and ends and then the following weekend we hope he can put down an asphalt tile floor in the bedroom.  That will complete all the major work in the house.  It’s hard to believe that small amounts of work over the years can add up to a house.”

In 1948, Herb earned his Masters Degree in Meteorology and continued his work with the Meteorology Department at M. I. T.  He was asked to deliver a paper at a meeting in Berkeley and used the opportunity to take the family to California and show off Richard.  During his visit, Barbara and Harold invited all the Ligdas to a reunion at their home in Campbell.  On the return trip, Herb stopped in Worthington to visit his Mother’s Family as he had done twenty years earlier.  Herb and Evelyn had their second child, Carol Louise, on September 10, 1949.

In 1950, He started teaching and working on his Sci.D., majoring in meteorology at M.I.T. and minoring in astronomy at Harvard.  In 1952, Evelyn took the children to California to visit her parents and in-laws leaving Herb at home to complete his thesis. 10 Herb completed his oral examination in November of that year and was awarded his Sci.D. in February of 1953.

In June of 1953, he was retained as a consultant by the Air Force Geophysical Directorate to go to Korea to establish a storm reporting network for the combat zone.  His assignment involved work in Tokyo and Seoul.  Herb was very impressed with Japan and wrote Evelyn that he hoped one day they could visit the country together.  He described Seoul as: “a mess . . . it will be many years before the last scars of war are gone.”  His work took him to within 20 miles of the front, to a ceremony with South Korean President Sigmund Rhee, and a dinner with General Clark.  Herb noted an advantage to having his doctorate was that others seemed to take his advice seriously.  His daughter, Carol, recalls the thrill of watching her parents open the exotic smelling excelsior-filled wooden crates her father shipped from the Orient during this tour of duty.  They contained a hand painted set of china for twelve, silk scarves and kimonos, fans and toys.

In 1954, Herb accepted a teaching position with the Department of Oceanography at Texas A & M.  They sold their house in Lincoln and moved to rented quarters at 707 Cross Street in College Station while they had a new home built at 1212 Orr Street which they occupied in 1955.  Herb described it as: “ . . . more expensive than originally planned . . . but a very comfortable place in which to live.”   Their third child, Valorie Jean, was born on  March 18, 1956.

Herb’s contract with the University allowed him to continue the development of radar systems to detect storms.  On April 5, 1956, the systems under Herb’s immediate control detected a tornado moving toward Byron, Texas in enough time to allow him to broadcast a public warning credited with, “ . . . probably saving at least several lives . . .”   Carol recalls the greenish, yellowish brown of the cloud-covered sky and the high winds.  The family stayed in Richard’s bedroom until the storm was over.  Several buildings were totally destroyed, “ . . .but there was no loss of life and no serious injury to persons.”  Herb, however, returned home with a gash in his forehead sustained from his comings and goings to the rooftop laboratory while documenting the storm.  The success of the warning was reported in Life Magazine of April 12, 1956.

Herb advanced to become head of the Meteorology Department.  He was developing an international reputation for his work.  In December, 1954, he said: “Perhaps the thing which has given me the most personal satisfaction in connection with all this is that I am getting inquiries from people who have heard about my work and want to come and work for me.”  He was frequently asked to speak at professional gatherings.  Those occasions took him to all parts of the country and, in 1956, to an international weather convention in Ciudad Trujillo in the Dominican Republic where he spoke.  While he traveled, he frequently visited radar stations which were part of the national storm detection system.

Despite his satisfaction with the work, Herb disliked living in Texas: “The heat, insects, lack of availability of metropolitan life, and rather narrow circle of acquaintances all bother me somewhat.”  He was also disturbed by the practice of racial segregation in the South.  In 1958 Herb accepted an offer to manage the aerophysics laboratory at Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park.  The family moved to Los Altos, California where they bought a home at 23744 Arbor Avenue (later renumbered 1450 Arbor Avenue) in Los Altos near his brother, Ted.  Over the next few years, the two families joined for many trips to the beach, sailing, fishing, and dinners at each other’s houses.

Herb threw himself into his new work.  He called himself an “Applied Scientist.”  He was published extensively in technical and scientific journals and contributed to a number of textbooks. 11  He continued in considerable demand as a lecturer.  He enjoyed traveling to give technical addresses.  Interestingly, his mother was critical of his public speaking.  She attended one of his addresses and was shocked that he read his material without regard for audience reaction.  His daughter, Carol, disagreed:

“My grandmother probably forgot that it is common for speakers on technical subjects in developing areas to read their papers.  I remember being so proud when my father came to my 5th grade class one day to be a guest speaker about the weather.  Mom said it was one of the most difficult speeches he ever had to prepare.”

Those he worked with considered him an excellent leader – able to bring out their best.  His son, Richard, said he led by setting examples:

“He would be the first to get out and push the boat out of the mud.  He’d be the first one up in the morning to chop wood, or to “get the show on the road,” when leaving a motel.  If he thought labor prices were too high, he would fix the house or car himself.   Instead of being a “born leader,” he was more like a leader from the time of his birth.”

Dr. Ligda, as he was known professionally, was one of the developers of the first operational weather observation system to use a laser beam.  With the device he could view the weather 35 miles above the earth’s surface.  He called it “Lidar.”

Herb had many other interests.  He was an avid reader and book collector.  He had coin and stamp collections to which he added during his foreign travels.  He was an enthusiastic musician.  He organized a musical quintet of fellow workers at S.R.I. 12  He and his brother, Ted, were members of the “Family Club,” where each played the French horn.  From time to time, he also played in local symphony orchestras.  He owned one of the first Chevrolet Corvettes which he sometimes drove a little too fast on the local roads. 13  He was a member of the Palo Alto Yacht Club where he berthed his teakwood sailboat – a beautiful boat into which he poured many loving hours of upkeep.  He enjoyed sailing on the Bay at night when the sky was clear and it was quiet.  Both of his daughters enjoyed sailing with him.  He collected wines.   He enjoyed gourmet cooking and hosting dinner parties.  In 1956, on his 36th birthday, a friend gave him a cook book with the inscription:

“Stuffed with oysters, wild rice, quail,
Steaks and lobsters by the pail,
Drenched with Scotch and rare old wine,
With smooth Drambuie by the stein,
All mixed well, but don’t disturb,
Don’t you see?  This is old Herb.”

 His daughter, Carol, recalls:

“He often brought home live lobsters from his business trips to New England.  Oysters Rockefeller was a favorite dish that he liked to prepare for company, and he liked to barbecue steaks.  He let me help him make cheese cakes and fruit cakes and pulverize fresh mint leaves from our yard to make sauce for roast leg of lamb.”

In 1967, Herb felt he was losing energy.  He initially attached no particular significance to the feeling, but when it lingered, he sought medical advice and was diagnosed with cancer of the colon already beyond control.  He fought the disease bravely.  His daughter, Carol, commented:

“My father chose to be optimistic in his heroic battle against cancer, purchasing a new Jaguar to replace his Corvette within days of his death.  My mom was outraged that he refused to help her by getting his life in order.  Altho as a healthy person he disliked and distrusted doctors, I believe he was basically cooperative with their efforts to prolong his life.  Dad even consented to be the model for a medical lecture on cancer.  The strong drugs that were administered to my dad for his cancer altered his personality.  He had no strength and was frequently disoriented.  He often seemed unable to focus on the outside world or even his family as he struggled to save his life.  I last saw him about 16 hours before he died.  He recognized me, but our last conversation had none of the meaning or significance that I longed for.”

His son, Richard, said: “He made considerable effort to stay alive for me.  This was while I flew in from Kansas hours before he died.  He still greeted me that night, and impressed me as having suffered in my behalf.”

Herb Ligda died on October 22, 1967.  He was cremated and his remains buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California (Sec. 2, Grave 5102). 14  He left his financial affairs in good order.  Richard commented that the family was able to, “live well for decades after his death.”    Evelyn never remarried and continued living in the family home at 1450 Arbor Avenue in Los Altos until her death on July 6, 1998.  She also was interred in Golden Gate National Cemetery.  The estate was divided among the children.


  1. Among his effects at his death were certificates that he had earned merit badges in Machinery, Camping, Bugling, Civics, and Pathfinding.
  2. University High School was on 58th and Grove (now Martin Luther King Jr. Way) Streets near the Berkeley border.  It opened in 1923 as a teaching laboratory for the University of California with high academic standards.  The high school was closed in 1946 because of low enrollment.  The buildings later served as Merritt College (birthplace of the Black Panther Movement).  The College moved in 1970 when the buildings were declared seismically unsafe.  It was restored and  partially reopened in 1998 as the North Oakland Multipurpose Senior Center.
  3. He was probably influenced by his brother, Ted, who was in the Marines at that time.
  4. In a letter of July 27, 1938, Herb wrote Evelyn: “ . . . you’re the real reason I’m going to go to college.  Few (if any) other girls could ever inspire me with the ambitions and hopes that you have, darling.”
  5. Herb is listed in the 1939 city directory as a life guard with the Oakland Recreation Department.  For two months in the summer of 1941, he and two of his friends signed on as mess boys on the SS President Madison carrying Chinese passengers and what Herb believed was war material to the Far East.  The ship called at Honolulu, Manila, Hong Kong, Singapore and Penang before returning.  He brought me a model Chinese junk from that trip which I kept for years before losing it to the wear and tear of childish handling.
  6. Herb’s college transcript shows completion of 110.5 graded units with 160.5 points for a 1.45 g.p.a. on a 3 point scale.
  7. Evelyn was born April 8, 1920 in American Falls, Idaho.  Letters which survived her death reflect that she and Herb were corresponding as early as 1936.  Her 1938 diary indicates she was then dating Herb and another boy named Paul, but by May 21, Herb was clearly her favorite: “He loves me.  I know,”  and on May 28: “It looks very much like I love him.”   Evelyn was a 1941 graduate of the Merritt Hospital School of Nursing.  She did not pursue her career after her children were born.
  8. In addition to the weather photographs he captured on these trips, Herb returned with hardwood furniture and Peruvian blankets made from llama and alpaca wool, treasures which remained in his family for decades after his death.
  9. After the War, Herb remained in the Reserves and eventually attained the rank of Lt. Colonel.  In 1953, he was Commanding Officer of the 101st Weather Group in the National Guard.
  10. Between August 6-16, 1952, a high school friend and I visited Uncle Herb at his home in Lincoln.  Despite the pressure of completing his thesis, Herb was a very gracious host.  When we left, Herb observed: “They seemed to be having a very good time, yet they took a bit too much for granted which sometimes irked me a bit.”
  11. Among the texts were Chapter Three, “Nature of Space,” in “Astronautics for Science Teachers,” edited by John G. Meitner of Stanford Research Institute and published by John Wiley & Sons, New York (1965), Library of Congress No. 65-16419; and “Investigating the Earth,” published by Houghton Mifflin Company of Boston (1967).
  12. His daughter, Carol, said: “I loved listening to their music, but it was loud and kept me awake.”
  13. Uncle Herb once called me when I was employed as a deputy district attorney (1963-5) for advice on how to fight a speeding ticket he had been given on Middlefield Road in Palo Alto.
  14. Evelyn’s cremated remains were buried with him in 1998.


OLGA ALEXINEFemale View treeBorn: 1892-02-14Died: 1923
Children: none
Siblings: none

Olga (or Ollie as she came to be called) was the only child of Fr. Ephrim Alexine and Olga. She was born in San Francisco. There are no accounts of her early years. She was living with her parents in Belkofski, Alaska when the 1900 census was taken.  She was reported as eight years old and unable to read or write. 1  About 1902, her mother took her to Paris to be formally educated. Mother and daughter returned to Alaska in 1905 and came to visit family in California in August, arriving on the City of Pueblo from Victoria.  At the end of the visit, they returned to Alaska.  We do not know if Ollie was with her mother when Olga returned to California in 1907 to settle her father’s estate, but almost certainly she was with her mother when she returned to Paris in 1908.  In 1909, when she was seventeen, her father inherited an estate in Russia. The family moved to Russia to live on that estate.

The Alexins were very well off, spending summers on their estate and winters in the cities where the weather was better. In one picture we have of her as a young lady, Ollie looks every bit the daughter of a well-to-do land owner. The years 1909 thru 1912 were happy for her. But in the next few years both her parents became ill and Ollie assumed the respojsibility of caring for them for the remainder of their lives.

On April 17, 1913, she wrote from the family country home that her mother was heavily sedated on opium and not expected to live. She also announced that she was engaged to Alexander Donsky, a medical student, 2 who she planned to marry when he became a doctor. Her mother had described him as: “a strong, healthy boy and very studious . . . I think Ollie is in luck to have such a promising man . . . He has a very good disposition.”

Ollie and Alexander were married shortly after her mother died in 1913. Edith Ligda has the date in her book at June 16. Ollie’s Aunt Val said that the ceremony was in Kiev. The couple then went on a trip from which she sent a series of post cards:

6/9-22/13 – “I am feeling much calmer and not so lonesome.”

6/20/13, Gilfis – “We are well and don’t feel tired from the travel.”

6/21,22,24/13, Kiev – She writes of a steamship trip.

On June 25, Ollie was back at the family country home caring for her father.  “I am afraid to leave my father alone he gets so old and you would never know him.” Alexander returned to Odessa to complete his studies and prepare for his final medical examinations which were to be given in August. Ollie planned to join him in September. She wrote: “I cannot tell if I love my husband very much or maybe it is because I am not used to him. Well, life will show what will be farther.”

Perhaps her father’s declining health prevented Ollie from rejoining her husband. On December 4, 1913, she wrote from Kiev that she was living with her father, adding: “Please don’t forget me because I am very unhappy.”

Shortly thereafter her father died and Ollie joined her husband in Odessa. On March 26, 1914, she wrote from Odessa: “I lost my son, Vladimer. Was 5 month old. You see I fell down. How I did cry noone knows.” 3 The Donskys were together through the summer and Ollie was again pregnant. The War began to impact their lives. 4

Russia entered the war on August 1, 1914. The winter of 1914-15 involved terrible fighting on the plains of Poland. Russia suffered terrible losses, but Ollie was not yet touched directly. On December 2, 1914, she wrote from Odessa: “Write me how the Americans look on the War.” Twelve days later, she complained: “I wrote you many times but did not get answer. I suppose it’s because we have war. I am well.” There was likely a breakdown in the Russian postal service. On March 15, 1915, Ollie seemed to acknowledge this: “A letter I can’t send now for you will not receive it just the same. All is quiet now don’t know how it will be farther.”

Ollie’s second child, Olga Donsky, was born on March 9/22, 1915 in Odessa. She wrote that: “When Olga begins to walk, I will come to my native land.” She makes no mention of her husband.

By delaying her departure, Olga was to become caught up in the events of a tumultuous period of Russian history: Revolution; Withdrawal from the World War: Foreign Invasion; Civil War; and Uprisings. There is no indication in anything she wrote that Ollie was the least bit political, but she was a member of the ruling class and presumably inherited the estate from her father. That would classify her as a class enemy. Without family to help, she was likely overwhelmed.

By 1916, Russia had lost hundreds of thousands of troops at the front. The war was draining the nation. In March, 1917, with no special provocation, workers and peasants revolted against the Czar. The revolt was leaderless, but Lenin, returned from exile with the help of the Germans, gained control of the Bolsheviks, then about 240,000 strong, and began the struggle to take control of Russia from the provisional government. This struggle was concentrated in Northern Russia near St. Petersburg. To consolidate power, it was essential that Russia withdraw from the war. In 1917, the Poles drove to Kiev; and the Russian Commander-in-Chief, Gen. Brusilou, joined the Red Army, giving control of the region in which Ollie was living to the Bolsheviks.

Between 1918 and 1922, there was a struggle for control of Russia between the Bolsheviks and the Whites. In the same period, there was no end to peasant uprisings and revolts, some of which are described as crowds attacking machine guns with clubs, pitchforks, and axes, and later lined up for execution with their arms tied behind their backs – ten for one! 5

Much of the fighting between Reds and Whites centered around Kiev. The Reds took the city on February 15, 1919. In the summer and autumn of 1919, the Whites launched an offensive under Gen. Anton Deniken which led to the capture of Kharkov, Odessa, Kiev, and Orel. The Crimean became the major area for the White buildup. The Reds counterattacked and on October 20, 1919, they recaptured Orel and the tide turned.

In April of 1920, the Poles, with the help of a Ukrainian Army, invaded the Ukraine. On May 8, they captured Kiev and drove the Communists out of Eastern Europe. The Red Army counterattacked from the North and drove the invaders back to Warsaw and, when the Poles stiffened, returned to engage the Whites driving them to the Crimea ending White resistance in the area. We do not know how much of the fighting Ollie witnessed or was caught up in. We do know that sometime in this period she moved to Vinogradvain St., No. 1, Yalta.

To compound the difficulties created by the civil war, there was a major famine in 1921 in the principle grain areas of Russia. The Russians took what food was available and allowed 10 million people to starve in the Ukraine. In 1921, the government announced 2,000 cases of cannibalism in Southern Russia. The United States tried to help with the American Relief Administration (ARA), which, during 1921-22 shipped enough food into Russia to save those lives had it been distributed in the area.

While all this was going on, the Ligdas and the Heuers were making every effort to get Ollie out of Russia. There were a series of letters, telegrams, and notes reflecting the difficulties encountered. For example, in a letter of January 18, 1922 from Albert Stall to Phil Heuer, Mr. Stall says that he had attempted to smuggle a letter to Olga early in 1921. He says he received a letter she had mailed on November 2, 1921. He added:

“Mrs. Donskey told me a lot of things in regards two the troubled country of Russia. But I couldent get her consent two leave Yalta Crema at that time our ship was laying ther. Here only hope was two leave there two gow two Odessa and see her father. My last wish while being in her company was two gow with her two purchase a past port from Russia to Constantnople Turkey and gave here my word of honer two provide fore here in a Respectial Hotel in which I would do my best in asisting here; untill such time as could be aranged fore here two leave for the United States but she wouldent execpeted it and we visited Yalta once after that but I was sick . . . and couldn’t go ashore . . . she was on the dock at Yalta when our small boat taking pasangers fore Constantnople but I wasant in the small boat two come out two the ship. I even sent some red cross workers two the last address in Yalta and they couldent find here . . .”

On Jan. 23, 1922, there is a telegram from A. E. Hall c/o the USS St. Louis, still in Philadelphia, to Phil Heuer:

“Received letter from . . . Donskey, Odessa University Laboratory of Professor Varonin, Ollgieveky Volitsa No. 4 . . . Have sent birth papers to the . . . address. If desire to send money must go through the United States Express Co.”

On February 10, 1922, Phil sent a registered letter to Ollie at the address he was given. He had computed that it would cost $346.20 to get Ollie to San Francisco ($175 for the ship from Odessa to the East Coast and $111.70 rail fare to San Francisco). The letter came back undelivered with Odessa postmarks of March 15, 17, and 26, 1922 and a New York postmark of July 14, 1922. Phil assumed Ollie was dead and gave up. Edith Ligda continued efforts to locate Ollie by writing the ARA with some initial success. On Oct. 28, 1922, the ARA wrote:

“Ask Mrs. E. Ligda . . . arrange . . . repatriation widowed granddaughter Helen Domskey and deposit funds relief and transportation she is on verge starvation.”

This response indicated that Alexander was dead, but Ollie was still alive. Edith wrote her brother, Col. Coleman, for help in arranging the transfer of funds thru the State Department. He replied that he would need affidavits that Helen Domskey was born or naturalized an American and that her husband was dead. There were difficulties. Her San Francisco birth certificate had been destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire. Her parents’ deaths prevented her from getting their affidavits. She was using the name Helen and had been married to a Russian. These obstacles were overcome and on November 29, 1922, Edith said that the State Department ordered the ARA to issue an emergency passport on getting proof Alexander’s death. On December 20, 1922, there was a telegram that the steamship Acropolis was under way and that possibly Donskey was on board. She was not.

The last indication Ollie was alive was in a April 11, 1923 letter from the State Department stating that they have: “ . . . been advised by parties interested in Mrs. Donskey that she has in her possession sufficient funds for her needs, and that necessary relief is being extended to her . . .”

This letter was followed by a letter of May 31, 1923 from the ARA stating that it was unfortunate that the steamship company which originally handled the matter went bankrupt and the money was tied up: ” . . . while Mrs. Donskey is so much in need . . .” Family in the United States had done everything possible for Ollie. She is presumed to have died in Russia in 1923, one of the millions of victims of the terrible upheaval in which the Bolsheviks came to power.


  1. At the time one in five adults could not read or write.
  2. We know a little about Alexander from a letter on 11/24/12 from Olga in which she says he was then 25, the eldest son of a priest, educated in the United States and then in the Theological Seminary in St. Petersburg.
  3. This would indicate that Ollie was pregnant at the time she and Alexander were married. That might explain why they married in June instead of waiting until Alexander took his final examinations and became a doctor as they had originally planned.
  4. On June 28, 1914, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, was assassinated in Serajevo, Yugoslavia. Austria submitted an ultimatum to Serbia; Serbia turned to Russia for support. Russia began mobilizing, the Czar stating: “Russia will in no case disinterest herself in the fate of Serbia.” On July 31, Germany demanded that Russia cease mobilization to which the Czar responded: “An ignoble war has been declared on a weak country. The indignation in Russia, shared fully by me, is enormous. I foresee that very soon I shall be overwhelmed by the pressure to which I am exposed and compelled to take measures which will lead to war.”
  5. Solzhenitsyn, “Gulag Archipelago,” p 302.