Berryessa Senior Center

The Lake Berryessa Senior Center & Community Hall

A Community Resource for All


Our New Name, Our New Goals

According to Wes Plunkett at the latest community dinner, the Plunkett family is pleased with the the new name for our organization. He believes that adding Community Hall to the name honors his mother’s long commitment to our Lake Berryessa community.

She was very dedicated to her community as a founder, board member and president of Spanish Flat Water District and founding member of the Lake Berryessa Chamber of Commerce and the Ladies of the Lake. She also served on the St. Helena School Board, St. Helena Hospital advisory board, and helped establish the church at Spanish Flat. Wes and Elsie donated the land for the Berryessa Senior Center and she became a lifetime member.

Plunket family 2009 edited-1

With the potential revitalization of Lake Berryessa through the efforts of the local community working with Napa County and the Bureau of Reclamation, the parallel revitalization of our senior center is also an important goal.


January 20th Community Dinner a Success!

The Officers of the The Lake Berryessa Senior Center & Community Hall would like to thank all the volunteer staff and guests who helped make our  January 20th Dinner an evening of fun and community, a lot of happy faces in these photos! A special shout out to CeCe Short for preparing Portuguese Beans and Linguica and Pulled Pork Sliders.



The Lake Berryessa Senior Center & Community Hall

A Community Resource for All

Communities evolve because people who care make things happen.  2018 will hopefully bring a renewal of our Lake Berryessa recreational community. The Berryessa Senior Center & Communiity Hall is also looking forward to a revitalization as a community resource. Please join the Lake Berryessa Senior Center to support the Lake Berryessa community during this time of positive change at the lake. Your $25 membership will help keep the doors open. Younger members are needed to provide a foundation for the future.

The Lake Berryessa Senior Center & Community Hall offers a broad range of social activities and support services. And this energetic group of Berryessa residents is redefining the Center, both because you don't have to be a "senior" to join the organization and because of their positive attitude towards community action. As with any volunteer organization, the more active people who join, the more active things there'll be to do. Official membership age is 50, but Community Supporter members of any age are welcome.

Membership dues are just $25 a year. The Center is a self-supporting, non-profit organization. They have regular monthly dinners and events such as Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, the annual Crab Feed, summer BBQs, bingo, and various fundraisers - and in 2018 they’ll be installing a pool table and adding a horseshoe tournament.

The Lake Berryessa Senior Center & Community Hall is an amazing facility located at 4380 Spanish Flat Loop Rd and is available at a very reasonable rent for special occasions. Call for details: 966-0206. In the past the Center  has hosted weddings, receptions, memorials, and many community functions such as blood drives, flu shots, Bureau of Reclamation presentations and community meetings. 

When you join you will be put on the Center's email list to receive regular announcements of activities and services.

Please send your check for $25 made out to the Berryessa Senior Citizens and mail it to:

Berryessa Senior Center, PO Box 9113, Napa, CA 94558


SrCtr Crab Feed


Lake Berryessa Senior Center and Community Hall

4380 Spanish Flat Loop Rd.

Salad, Pasta, Bread, Crab & Wine


February 24, 2018

No Host Cocktails

Silent Auction, Great Raffle Prizes

Special Grand Liquor Cabinet Raffle

(The Liquor, Not The Cabinet!)

5:30 pm Social, 7:00 pm Dinner

Tickets available at the Spanish Flat Country Store. People may send in their reservation check and their tickets will be held at the door. The deadline for purchasing tickets by mail is February 15.

Lake Berryessa Senior Center, PO Box 9113, Napa Ca 94558


No Outside Alcoholic Beverages Permitted    

Crab Feed Child


Senior Center Founded by Lake Berryessa Adventurer, Betty Pedersen

by Peter Kilkus

Communities evolve because people who care make things happen. Betty Pedersen is one of those special people. When she and her close friend, Ruth Stiteri, took walks they would talk about what their Lake Berryessa community needed. In 1983 they realized that a Senior Center would be an important resource for many local residents, especially since everything around the lake closes down in winter, so they decided to start one.

They laid the groundwork in 1983, originally meeting with a talented group of people at Moskowite Corners, to create the bylaws and structure. Seventy people showed up for that original meeting! The membership age was set at 55 since they wanted members who were young enough to have energy and who realized that the Center would be an investment in their own future.

They decided to incorporate as an independent, rather then County-run, Center to avoid becoming involved in bureaucracy. A $293,000 State development grant helped build the Center, but all other financing was done through fund-raisers. The Senior Center opened in 1984 as has been a cornerstone of the community since then.


By the time the Center opened, Betty was already a veteran lake adventurer. She and her husband, Robert, were born and raised in San Francisco and started coming to the lake in 1957 after the dam was built. They and their two boys were avid boaters who spent days water-skiing up and down the lake. In 1966 they bought a lot in the Berryessa Highlands, built the basic house by 1968, and finished their home over the next few years. It was their summer place until they moved here permanently in 1982.

Betty said that when you bought a lot back then, it was just a spot on a plan. You didn’t know exactly what you’d get. It took 10 years to get the Highlands going - 2 years just to do the grading! She fondly remembers the excitement of riding in jeeps on dirt trails so the realtor could show you potential building sites.

They camped out on their land when the family came to the lake. Their place originally had no electricity. After a day of strenuous water fun they used kerosene lanterns for light and barbecued their supper. Other couples bought land at the same time and they would often get together to party all weekend. (Sound familiar?) Betty said they had a really great time! (Note to non-seniors: Just because you’re younger than we are doesn’t mean you can party any more hardy!)


Elsie Plunkett: Cofounder of the Lake Berryessa Senior Center and Donor of the Land on Which It Stands

Elsie wedding copy

Elsie met her husband, Wesley B. Plunkett, on a Sierra Club hike to Mt. Tamalpais and they were married in Chico in 1958.

Elsie family copy

A devoted wife and mother, she raised her family side by side with her husband at their home in Spanish Flat. Inspired by their love of nature and desire to share it with others, Wes and Elsie formed Spanish Flat Resort, Inc. on the west shore of the lake, and began the development of the Spanish Flat area to which she devoted the next 31 years of her life. She was a fixture at the Napa County Planning Department and Board of Supervisors meetings in Napa, fighting to promote and develop Spanish Flat and Lake Berryessa. Wes and Elsie donated the land for the Berryessa Senior Center and she became a lifetime member.

Click here to read more about Elsie’s amazing history...


What Was It Like To Grow Up At Spanish Flat Resort?

Confessions of a Resort Brat

by Wes Plunkett

In the mid 50’s, the residents of Berryessa valley were being evicted from their farms and ranches. My grandparents had a summer home in Capell Canyon known as Rancho Tebepa that they would lose to the BOR. Seeing an opportunity to own some property overlooking the new lake, my dad bought about 600 acres in the area known as Spanish Flat. 

He chose a homesite and built his house in 1957 and 58 as the dam was completed and the lake began to fill. During that time my mom and dad met and were married. They shared a vision of building a family, a business venture and community there. My dad would say he was going to get Spanish Flat “on the map”. 

During the next few years they had completed the resort and developed the Village Center, the Mobile Villa and the Water District and established the Spanish Flat post office. My mom became postmaster. My mom used her architectural skills to design many of the buildings.

By the time I started first grade at Monticello Elementary, Spanish Flat was in full swing. Sunrise point was filling with mobile homes, the campgrounds were full every summer weekend and the village center was bustling. It was a fun, family oriented atmosphere.

Young Wes Plunkett

Another summer tradition was the outdoor movie theater. We worked in the popcorn stand and the ticket booth and eventually learned to run the projectors. They were cantankerous old beasts and the film usually broke right at the climax of the movie. But the real drama was in the audience as countless young Romeos and Juliets made their plays.     

The boom continued into the seventies, but it was dampened by the transition from Napa County management of the lake to BOR. The BOR tried to end the resort leases in ’78, it literally took an act of congress to get them extended. During that time BOR built Oak Shores and the free launch ramp, moves viewed by the resorts as unfair competition and a violation of their contracts. The gas crisis and a drought didn’t help either.

Click here to read the whole fascinating history...


Who’s a Senior, What’s a Senior?

By Peter Kilkus

One of my favorite sayings is: You don’t stop playing because you get old, you get old because you stop playing!

While insurance adjusters, health care planners, and social security analysts note with trepidation our lengthening life expectancy, and leisure industries scramble to cater to bored retirees, many of us realize that there is still important, but different, work for “elders” to do.

What is old age for? Anthropological studies conclude that old age is humanity’s greatest invention! According to a geriatrician, Dr. William Thomas, on a deeper level old age invented us. It propelled the development of culture, language, and society. A million years ago on the plains of Africa, the first grandmother helped her daughter and grandchildren survive. The deliberate enlistment of grandparents into the work of rearing the young stands as a defining characteristic of human beings.

Substantial advantages accrue to offspring who can be cared for by two generations of adults. An African proverb says, “The death of an old person is like the loss of a library”. Thomas believes our growing number of elders represents an unprecedented windfall to society. Elders have always made important contributions to the young of their families and communities.

For those of you who remember the trauma of turning 30 during the “don’t trust anyone over 30” days of the 60s, the turning 60 birthday in the 21st century may feel even worse. But almost no one I know says they feel like a “senior” even though they may be well over 60. Although our bodies may give us unwelcome hints that we are aging, the modern world gives us plenty of opportunities to keep from “being old”.

How do we keep from “growing old inside”? Surely only in community. According to Robert McAfee Brown, the only way to make friends with time is to stay friends with people. Taking community seriously not only gives us the companionship we need, it also relieves us of the notion that we are indispensable.

So how can we translate philosophy into action at Lake Berryessa? Through the Lake Berryessa Senior Center & Community Hall - a key community resource that offers a broad range of social activities and support services. And this energetic group of Berryessa residents is redefining the definition of senior because of their positive attitude towards community action. As with any volunteer organization, the more active people who join the more active things there’ll be to do.

Peter & Betty

Maybe there should be a contest to see what new word can be used to replace “senior” in describing us (since I am a new member). At the last Board meeting I mentioned that I just don’t feel like a “senior” and Betty Pedersen, a co-founder of the Center in 1983, jumped right in with  “Neither do I!”


Below is a short history of the first two years of the Berryessa Senior Citizens, Inc. This history was transcribed from the original typed report available in the Senior Center archives.

Berryessa Senior Citizens, Inc.

The  Beginning

In September 1983 seventy people gathered at Moskowite Corners to discuss plans to form a senior citizens  group in the Berryessa area. Jack Cunningham, director of  the Solano/Napa agency on aging, Charlie Lambert, past president of the Fairfield Senior Citizens and Orrington Tubbs, Chairman of the Advisory Council of the Agency on Aging advised the group on various aspects of organizing a senior citizens center and the expected goals that could be accomplished.

A great deal of enthusiasm expressed over the prospect of a Senior Center in this isolated location of Napa County. A steering committee was selected to research the necessary steps to be taken in forming such an organization.

Members of the Steering Committee were :

C.D. Barnett, Moskowite Corners

Ruth Ennis, Steele Park

Frances Henderson, Circle Oaks

Ethel Mason, Moskowite Corners

F. Ogden Miller, Circle Oaks

Robert Pearson, Berryessa Highlands

Betty Pederson, Berryessa Highlands

Ruth Spiteri, Berryessa Highlands

George Trapp, Berryessa Pines

With the legal assistance of Attorney Tubbs the articles of incorporation and by laws for the Berryessa Senior Citizens were drawn up in October, 1983.

In November, 1983 a general meeting was held to inform people of the progress of the steering committee. By unanimous vote the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws were adopted. Approval of the Steering committee to serve as the interim Board of Directors was voted by the membership. Volunteer donations of $10 dues were suggested and approved .

On January 3, 1984 the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws of the Berryessa Senior Citizens, were filed with the state of California and our charter was issued.

The Berryessa Senior Citizens Center's activities are directed to the provision of recreational, educational, social, personal, and health oriented opportunities for all of the elderly in this isolated area of Napa County.

February 14, 1984 (Valentines Day): The Berryessa Senior Citizens Center held an Open House. It was a grand celebration. President Bob Pearson gave a short speech telling of the past accomplishments and future goals. Sincere gratitude was expressed to all those people who had generously given of their time, talents and effort to assure the beginning of the Berryessa Senior Citizens.

March, 1984: Initiated a program to distribute cheese to senior citizens in the area.

April, 1984: A building fund was started, an account was opened with money donated by the Berryessa Lions Club and the Napa Senior Citizens.

May, 1984: Prepared and submitted an application for revenue sharing funds. The application placed second on prioritizing list to be presented to the Napa County Board of Supervisors in August.

June, 1984: The Napa Commission on Aging held their monthly meeting at our center and allocated money to pay the postage for our newsletter.

July, 1984: Initiated steps to bring Napa Adventure College classes to the area. Quilting class to begin October 17.

August, 1984: Napa County Board of Supervisors allocated revenue sharing funds to non-profit organizations. Our application for $6,428 was approved. Money will be used to buy folding table and chairs and other needed furnishings.

September, 1984: Flea market was a huge success - netted more than $1,100. Painted Center. Installed drapes.

October, 1984: Held annual meeting on October 12. Election of Board of Directors for 1985.

November, 1984: Christmas Bazaar on November 9 & 10 was a very successful venture. Netted $1,500.

December, 1984: A quiet Christmas celebration. Plan for New Year and the building of our own Center.                       © Peter Kilkus 2017