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John Masterson Celebrated At Sierra Senior Center

Written by Cynthia Eaton —

OAKHURST — Members of the Oakhurst Wild Goose Qigong Practice Group were delighted to celebrate John Masterson’s 86th birthday with cards and balloons at their Tuesday practice before his weekend family celebrations began at the end of August.

Barbara Leath and Jennie Flaherty, facilitators of the Caregiver Respite Group, brought birthday cake to share with the rest of the Practice Group as well as with the staff and members of the Sierra Senior Center who were present during the lunchtime Senior Nutrition Program.

When asked about his life, John says, “I was born in Oklahoma.  At the age of two, I left the tornadoes for Madera County and never went back.”

After completing 8th grade in Nippanawasee, “I went to work, any kind of work. At age 19, I started working in the woods for Albie, Leonard, and Raymond Gaylord as a knot-bumper, doing the final limbing of the trees before they were loaded for the mill. They put me in, saw I could do it, and they kept me. I logged locally, over to Lake Arrowhead, Shaver Lake, and Beasore Meadows. It was good work, it kept me out of trouble.”

John was well-liked as a worker. He did everything else to earn a living including picking cotton and grapes in the Madera area. At age 22, he met his wife Katherine with whom he shared the next 60 years until she passed away three and a half years ago.

“I miss her as much now as the day she died,” says John, who eventually started coming to the Senior Center because of encouragement from a friend. He joined the Qigong Practice Group because “It was something different. I stayed, and here I am.”

John has come to almost every practice. He has the distinction of attending the most practices of any member of the Flock, including the practice coordinator.

“It’s something different for me to do.  I feel better, there’s not as many aches and pains, and it’s good for my bad back,” he says.  The other members of the Wild Goose Qigong Practice Group agree, observing that like themselves, John has made significant improvement in coordination, balance, and flexibility.

Everyone is happy to practice when John is there to help “greet the sun,” and John and the other members look forward to having new people join the Practice Group.  No experience is necessary; all that is needed is a desire to have fun and to move within one’s range of motion, says group coordinator,  Marcia Kamiya-Cross. For information call 559-760-5216, or contact her by email at

Contact Barbara (683-6474) or Jennie (658-8227) for information about the Caregiver Respite Group, Tuesdays 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. which provides care as well as activities — including qigong practice — and socialization for family members with Alzheimer’s/Dementia or who are elderly/disabled, providing a needed break for their caregivers.

Quigong “Geese” Flock To Sierra Senior Center

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