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Business and community leader Lori Pond succumbs to cancer

Wendy Alexander/Madera Tribune File Photo Lori Pond, owner of Valley Pistachio, died at 53 after a battle with cancer.


Madera community leader, businesswoman and humanitarian Lori Pond has died at 53 after a battle with cancer.

She was born March 9, 1963, in Firebaugh, where she graduated from high school.

From the beginning of her career, she was a skillful business executive.

She was chief financial officer of the Sherman Thomas Ranch for 25 years.

In 2010 she bought the Valley Pistachio Country Store from the Thomas estate, and used her skills in management and marketing to turn it into a thriving business, marketing products grown in the valley.

She also is credited with saving the San Joaquin Valley Paleontology Foundation from financial distress at a key point in its development.

“Lori brought her expertise in business and marketing to the Fossil Discovery Center of Madera County,” said past board president Grady Billington.

Prior to her joining the board its membership was comprised of former educators, he said. Her addition to the board added a new dimension to the makeup of that body in an area that needed strengthening. Her background in accounting brought some much-needed expertise to the organization, he said.

“Her personality and strong work ethic made her an asset that will be greatly missed,” Billington said.

At the time of her passing she held presidencies of both the Madera Rotary Club and the San Joaquin Valley Paleontology Foundation.

She became a Rotarian in February 2010 with the classification of Farm Management.

“She served our club as treasurer for three years,” according to the club newsletter Profit Sheet. She was a multiple Paul Harris Fellow, which meant she was a serious giver to the Rotary Foundation.

Pond also had a fondness for pets, the Profit Sheet says.

“Lori had a big heart for people and a tremendous love for animals. Lori’s dog Reba was a familiar sight to anyone visiting the store. She went out of her way to feed stray cats or dogs and foster them, if she could catch them.”

She also financed microcredits to help women start up their own small businesses.

“She was extremely generous with her giving and loving spirit,” the Profit Sheet says.

Ms. Pond is survived by her mother, Nancye Cardella Pond of Firebaugh, her father, Buddy Pond of Madera, sisters Penny and Sheri, brother Steve and nieces and nephews.

Services will be announced.

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