Vaden Earl Jantz Jr. was born in Arcata on August 11, 1950, where he enjoyed a happy childhood with his three brothers and sister. But even as a child Vaden wanted to work! He realized his ambitions at age 10, milking cows at the Arcata Creamline Dairy across the street from his home on the corner of Zehndner and O St. In high school he helped in the kitchen of the Big 4 restaurant, a popular establishment at the time, and remembered fondly his cowboy experiences bucking hay and wrangling cattle in the hills around Humboldt County.
Sitting still at college didn't suit him, so he went to work for the city of Arcata as an equipment operator, where for 17 years he assisted in numerous water, wastewater and street projects. He was very proud of helping to create the now famous Arcata Marsh and upon his retirement from that job in 1987 was described by the members of the City Council as a "competent, loyal and dependable employee."
Vaden also served his local community for 33 years as a volunteer and career firefighter for the Arcata Volunteer Fire Department. He was named Volunteer Fireman of the Year in 1975, where, according to an article in the Union
newspaper, the selection was made on the basis of "attendance at fire calls and drills, enthusiasm and popularity."
After his retirement from the fire district in 2010, his help was eagerly sought by various civic and nonprofit groups, including the town of Manila and the Friends of the Dunes. Vaden enjoyed visiting family, fishing at Lewiston lake and far-flung travels with his wife Linda, but was a worker at heart. So he once again offered his help to the city, where his expertise and congenial spirit were happily welcomed by the small Environmental Services staff with whom he spent his last working years as a heavy equipment operator, maintaining the wetlands and the community forest.
Vaden was a kind and unassuming man who had no need to be in the spotlight. He was a keen observer of the world around him and had an intimate knowledge of nature, both animal and human.
Vaden died peacefully at his home in Arcata on June 19. Friends are invited to a
an informal indoor-outdoor celebration of his life at the Blue Lake Fire Department on Saturday, Aug. 27 from 2-5 p.m.