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Atascadero Colony Days celebrates two longtime residents

Alice (Kay) O'Dell and Henry Barba served as queen and king during Atascadero's Colony Days celebration.
Alice (Kay) O'Dell and Henry Barba served as queen and king during Atascadero's Colony Days celebration.

Two longtime North County residents will represent Atascadero’s Colony Days royalty during the city’s annual heritage event on Saturday. Henry Barba of Santa Margarita will serve as king while Alice (Kay) O’Dell of Atascadero will serve as queen.

According to a city press release, here’s a look at their lives:

Barba, 100, worked at Carissa Ranch and Santa Margarita Ranch, where he worked on mule-drawn wheat harvesters. In 1937, he worked for Southern Pacific railroad, maintaining its tracks. Later, he served in World War II and went on to work for the Union Oil pipeline at the Santa Margarita booster station for 37 years. He was married to his late wife, Jesse, from 1940 until her death in 2006. Barba’s 101st birthday is Sunday.

O’Dell, 85, is a lifelong Atascadero resident. Her family came to Atascadero in 1916 after reading about E.G. Lewis’ new colony in a magazine advertisement. O’Dell was born in 1929 at Atascadero General Hospital, known at that time as the William H. Lewis Memorial Hospital.

She graduated from Atascadero High School in 1947 and attended Cuesta College. O’Dell worked as a nurse’s aide for a year before going to work in 1952 at the office of the late Dr. Richard Walters in Atascadero for 26 years. Alice and her late husband, Jack O’Dell, were married for 67 years.

To qualify for the positions of king and queen, residents have to live within the Atascadero school district boundaries for at least 50 years.

Colony Days, celebrating Atascadero’s creation as a master-planned community in 1913 by E.G. Lewis, returns today with a 10 a.m. downtown parade with historical re-enactments and family activities in and around the Sunken Gardens, an 11 a.m. vintage car show at West Mall and El Camino Real and a 2 p.m. band/drum-line competition at Atascadero High School. There will be no Sunday activities.

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