Fendon founded Bishop furniture landmark
By Register Staff
Alberta Newspaper Group
A Celebration of Life will be held for one of Bishop’s original “old timers” whose family for decades helped area residents take a load off and rest a little more comfortably. A Celebration of Life for Gerald Allen “Jerry” Fendon, 1930 - 2023, the founder of Fendon’s Furniture of Bishop, will be held from 2-5 p.m. Saturday, March 25, at the Bishop Country Club Banquet Room. Everyone is welcome and invited to bring their memories of Jerry to share. Finding the Eastern Sierra Fendon and a friend initially ventured out to California inn 1948 shortly after he graduated from high school when he was 18. He found work at Dickenson’s Furniture in Ontario, California, as a traveling salesman for fur niture reupholstery. Jerry had two routes which he alternated every couple of weeks. Each sales route involved many miles of solitary driving in an old flatbed pickup with upholstery samples in the cab and water bags on the grille in case a water hose broke or the radiator started leaking. One of Jerry’s routes took him north through Inyo and Mono counties and would set the path for the rest of his life. On this route, Jerry drove U.S. Highway 395 and stopped in all of the little towns along the way, from Trona to Olancha, and on to June Lake. Lone Pine, Mammoth Lakes, June Lake and especially Bishop became his favorite towns to visit on his sales routes. In Lone Pine, he stayed at the Dow Villa Motel and in Bishop, he stayed at the Kittie Lee Inn and had breakfasts at the Copper Kettle restaurant connected to the hotel. Jerry’s reputation for honesty and fairness in business dealings and quality furniture restoration quickly earned him a trustworthy reputation throughout the Eastern Sierra. Jerry Fendon married Shirley Rae Whorff, the daughter of the owners of the Kittle Lee Inn, in July 1956 and shortly after purchased Dickenson’s Furniture in Ontario. However, due to challenging times, the couple were forced to declare bankruptcy and they moved to Bishop in 1957 when Jerry began work at the Bishop Sawmill and Shirley worked as a graveyard telephone operator at Continental Telephone in downtown Bishop. At this time Jerry taught himself upholstery work by working on furniture at the Kittle Lee Inn. By 1964, Jerry had become very skilled at furniture reupholstery and restoration which included sewing and a lot of work with his hands. This was even more impressive due to the lack of dexterity in Jerry’s right hand, which was the only physical impairment that lingered throughout his life from his childhood illness of spinal meningitis. Fendon’s Furniture In 1965, Jerry and Shirley opened a small upholstery shop, Fendon’s Upholstery, in Bishop behind the Copper Kettle Restuarant. Jerry and Shirley’s business grew consistently but not without the typical and nearly constant challenges almost all small business owners face. But they persisted in doing quality work and treating customers fairly and honestly. Jerry eventually decided that they should try their hand at retail again by first adding a small line of mattresses to the upholstery business. Later, he and Shirley brought in La-ZBoy recliners. The retail business worked and grew with lessons learned from the past, but Jerry would never give up the furniture restoration business again. Over the next 20 years, Fendon’s Furniture and Reupholstery grew and expanded with at least five major remodeling projects to increase the size of the building and allow for expansion of the business. Jerry oversaw the shop, he and Shirley oversaw retail and Shirley worked in the office. While there were few customer problems over the years, Shirley handled them with great success due to her love of people and her and Jerry’s desire to treat everyone with honesty, fairness and dignity. Jerry and Shirley loved their employees and thought of them as family. Many of their staff worked with them for 20 or more years. On March 31, 2021, Jerry sold Fendon’s Furniture to Aaron and Marianne Schat. He was very happy that they would continue the business employing the staff and serving the community. Throughout the good and bad times of over seventy-three years working various jobs and in business, Jerry continued to work enthusiastically, treat employees and customers fairly and made progress personally and in business. Jerry continued to love life and was always thinking of how he could progress and what he could build or do next. Jerry is survived by his sons, Randy and Bill, and their families including, Bill’s wife, Jane Fendon, and their sons, Willem and Quentin. And Randy’s wife, Cheri Fendon, and their sons Wilton Daniels and Tucker Fendon and Tucker’s wife, Jessica, and three sons - Colin, Mason and Kaden. Jerry has two surviving brothers and their families - his eldest brother, Ron Fendon, and younger brother Don Fendon.