If you passed petite Wanda Burch Goines on the street in her long skirt with her white hair piled on her head, you might think "sweet, little, old lady" and think no more. Yet she is remarkable for much beyond her longevity.
Goines, 87, was born in Florida. Her family moved to Southern Oregon when she was 8, and she has made Southern Oregon her home base ever since. She currently lives in the Illinois Valley with one of her four sons in the house her father built. She also had four daughters, though two have died.
"My father could not settle down until he came to this property," says Goines. "He put his toe in the dirt and saw the loam and decided to stay. But in the summers, we traveled for three months. I just loved it. We traveled all over everywhere."
Goines loved art and music, and unlike most women of her era, she earned a degree — in fine arts and English literature — from University of Oregon. She went on to earn a master's degree in dance from University of Wisconsin, which is where she met her husband, Warren, a civil engineer.
"I spent the next 17 years pregnant or nursing," explains Goines, laughing.
Warren Goines designed bridges and dams, so his wife's beloved traveling continued, including 20 months in the Holy Land, a lifelong dream. After 58 years of marriage, Warren Goines died in 2002.
Goines' eldest son is internationally famous graphic artist David Lance Goines. His initial fame came when his suspension with six other students from University of California, Berkeley, sparked the 1960s Free Speech Movement. With 800 students arrested and 25,000 out on strike, it was the first mass student demonstration of the era.
"David's picture was in the paper. The family was just humiliated and worried," says Wanda Goines. Her husband worried their son's arrest would cause him to lose jobs. The other children worried the arrest would reflect badly on them.
What it did was change David Goines' career focus. He went to work for a printer to support himself and found his calling. Goines later bought the press, started Saint Hieronymus Press and created a unique style of poster art that is still extremely popular.
His posters are collected by dozens of museums worldwide, including the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Louvre in Paris and the Hiroshima Museum of Art in Japan. Goines says the only art teacher he ever had was his mother.
"I was always doing something (artistic)," says Wanda Goines. "All the children drew, but David just went on. Three of the kids were musical, but they were all artistic."
"What's interesting is my grandfather was a printer," says Goines. "He died in the flu epidemic of 1918 — I never met him. But David looks just like him."
Her son Lincoln Goines, who lives in New York, is an internationally renowned jazz and Latin bassist who plays concerts around the world. He has recorded with many musicians, including Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins and Gato Barbieri.
Wanda Goines paints mainly in oils, though she learned watercolor painting at age 75. She has donated a series of large, whimsical paintings of babies to the Neonatal wing of Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley. And she recently published a book of children's stories, "Bunny Fluff Wants to Fly," with 32 charming, full-page illustrations.
"I wanted every other page to be a picture, so children sitting on both sides would have something to look at," says Goines. Alta Bates is selling the book as a fundraiser.
Goines spends her days painting, teaching Bible classes and keeping up with her children, 16 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Every summer, the whole clan gathers at her house, and the air is filled with laughter and music. Despite the frailty of age, she takes time to enjoy life and to contribute to others.
We could all learn from her example: just another sweet, little, old lady.