Gena (Perry) Westra moved to Quincy from Hayward, Calif., in 1978 when she was just 9 years old.
“We moved around a lot,” said Westra. “Dad’s family was from Washington, so we moved here to be with them.”
Westra’s first winter here was a really bad one. In the winter of 1978, as she recalls, the snow fell hard and the temperature dropped. It was a striking change from the mild climate of California’s Bay Area.
“We put sweat socks on our hands and bread bags inside of our shoes to try to stay dry,” she remembered. “We moved to George in October right before winter hit and lived on the ‘loop,’ which is Montmorency Boulevard.”
Westra and her family moved to Quincy when she was in the fourth grade. She attended school up through her high school years until she left to be home-schooled. Her graduating class was 1988, but she was just shy of a diploma.
Westra married her longtime friend and sweetheart, Rick Westra, after dating for more than four years. Soon, she was pregnant with Richard, and Ashley and Bradley followed.
Westra was already married and had her first child before going back to the alternative school for a year and a half to finish her requirements for a diploma.
For 16 years, Westra spent her time doing in-home health care for private individuals and elderly clients. She also worked at The Cambridge assisted living facility.
More recently, Westra began working at the Grainery as a cook.
“It was quite the change from my former work,” said Westra.
In her spare time, Westra enjoys painting with her mother-in-law, who does oil painting.
“We have been doing this for a year,” said Westra. “I’ve sold one and I like to give them as gifts.”
Westra also likes to crochet and go camping with her family in the summer as much as she can.
Her son, Bradley, is in his junior year at High Tech High and is thinking about going into the field of technology. He is doing well after having been hit by a vehicle several years ago at a crosswalk. Westra’s oldest son, Richard, is married and has three kids. Daughter Ashley is an assistant mechanic at Quincy Foods.
“I feel content,” said Perry. “I raised my kids to know the Lord. Rick and I are moving into the second phase of our lives and looking forward to what God has in store for us.”
“I like the community feel here in Quincy,” said Westra. “That was one thing that meant the most to us when Bradley had his accident.”
Westra is also glad to be surrounded by family. She has both of her brothers and her mother living together for the first time since 1989.
“My life is my family, and family is my life,” said Westra. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”