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BIOGRAPHY

Balmer was born as Beulah Evelyn Lemm on 12 September 1907, as the eldest of nine children born to parents Ernest Lemm and Jessie Faniani. She was born on her grandfather, John Faniani’s, summer home near Lake Almanor in the same room where her mother, Jesse, was born. Her paternal grandparents, Christian Lemm and Louisa Darge, were early Chico settlers. She had two brothers and six sisters. During the 1918 flu pandemic, she would wear bags of a foul-smelling antimicrobial spice around her neck to school.

After graduating from Chico High School in 1924, and from Chico State Teacher’s College (now California State University, Chico) in 1927, Balmer taught at a school in Susanville for four years before going to the University of California at Berkeley. She obtained a BA degree in Mathematics and a Secondary Teacher’s Credential. She taught at Albany High School where she was head of the Mathematics Department while in the Bay Area. During the Great Depression, her father’s beehive provided honey to the family during grain and sugar shortages.

Between 1943 and 1945, Balmer served as an officer in the US Coast Guard in World War II. Using her mathematical abilities, she read and interpreted weather maps and charts and used Morse code to help ships navigate through dangerous waters and adverse weather conditions between the United States and England. She attained the rank of Lieutenant during her service. She was sent to Seattle, Washington where she met and married Charles Balmer in 1945. The couple had no children. She continued her teaching career in Seattle, eventually retiring in 1967. While in Seattle, she became interested in ice skating, and it soon became one of her favorite activities. She qualified for the U.S. Figure Skating Association’s Bronze Award in Ice Dancing and qualified for the Olympics, though she did not participate.

In 1999, Balmer moved to Chico along with her husband Charles, where he passed away in 2001. She spent her retirement writing and publishing books on their families’ histories. In September 2014, on her 107th birthday, she was visited by Chico State’s President, Paul Zingg, who presented her with an award for being the oldest living CSU alumnus. Balmer graduated from the College of Communication and Education.

Balmer died in Chico, California, on 9 December 2017 at the age of 110 years, 88 days. She was survived by three sisters, Clair Hill of Chico, Jeanie Shaw of Red Bluff and Thea Parker of Gridley.

RECOGNITION

Balmer’s age was verified by Fabrizio Villatoro and validated by LongeviQuest on 2 August 2023.

ATTRIBUTION

* “107-Year-Old is Oldest CSU Alumnus” – CSU – California State University, 26 October 2014

* “Beulah Lynn Balmer” – Chico Enterprise-Record, 16 December 2017

* “Remembering Chico State’s Oldest Alum” – Chico Enterprise-Record, 20 December 2017

GALLERY

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