Former Roundup marshal dies at 83

May 12, 2003 11:00 pm

By ABBY SOUZA

A former Mother Lode Roundup grand marshal, rancher and cowgirl extraordinaire Alberta Adele Landes, 83, died yesterday of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — or Lou Gehrig's disease — at her daughter's home in Oakdale.

Alberta dedicated her life to the ranching community in Tuolumne County, proving that cowgirls can train, show and ride horses just as good as any cowboy can.

"My mom was a legend of a lady," said her only daughter, Roberta Weston Harvey.

Alberta was born Sept. 16, 1919, in Jamestown. She grew up on the ranch her grandfather Dan Shell started on Shell Road in Jamestown in the 1800s, and lived there for most of her life.

She attended Sonora High School, where she was a member of the band. Alberta, a clarinetist, and her trumpet-playing sister, Ruby Riedel, marched with the band over the Golden Gate Bridge during its dedication ceremony, Harvey said.

Alberta graduated from Sonora High with big plans.

"She had always wanted to become a nurse," Harvey said.

But those plans were put on hold when her father, Albert Shell, died about 1940. Alberta and her sister had to help their mother, Daisy, run the ranch.

To help make ends meet, Alberta cleaned cabins at Kennedy Meadows for Frank and Lurene Kurzi. She also worked for Baker's Candy Kitchen in Jamestown and Columbia Candy Kitchen in Columbia.

In 1945, Alberta married rodeo cowboy Bill Weston of Sonora. The couple had one daughter, Roberta.

Her second marriage came after meeting Don Landes at the Hilltop Cafe in Jamestown, which Alberta owned for some time.

"He hauled logs up and down the hill and began stopping at the cafe," Harvey said.

Landes was also a rodeo cowboy, and Harvey said her mother recognized his name.

The couple had Harvey's half-brother, Casey Landes, when Harvey was 13, but after the Landeses divorced, Alberta took care of the kids on her own.

"My mom was a very hard worker," Harvey said. "My mom worked as many as four jobs a day."