We are officially in March, which means that it is Women’s History Month! I wrote a blog about women in Folsom back in August for Women’s Suffrage Month and decided that we needed a sequel for March. This week, I would like to introduce two more women in Folsom’s past who deserve recognition.
First, we have Molly Larkin, first female officer for the Folsom Police Department. Molly was born on December 15th, 1932 in Kansas City Missouri and moved to Folsom with her husband Edward in the 1950s. Molly started her career at the Folsom Police Department in 1963 as a dispatcher, a position she held for 13 years before the Police Department decided to send her to the Butte Regional Training Academy where she was the only woman in attendance out of 31 trainees. The Chief of Police at this time was Clifford Smith, who, along with Molly, believed that it would beneficial to have a female police officer to set women at ease.
In addition to her regular police duties, Molly Larkin headed a program that provided seminars on women safety and burglary prevention and a “talking police car” program in which she visited local schools to talk about police work and let children look inside her car where a recording played talking about all the different parts of a police car. These programs were created to keep Folsom residents aware of the innerworkings of the police department as well as to promote safety and introduce police to children as friends rather than strangers. For older students, Molly would visit Folsom High School and present career opportunities within the police department as part of the high school’s career program.
After her retirement, Molly worked at the department’s front desk to greet and direct people coming in for help or to file reports until the mid-1990s. She passed away in 2000 at the age of 68 and is buried at Lakeside Cemetery. We are lucky enough to have part of her uniform here in the archive.
Blanche Lenore Olver was born on December 4th, 1903 in Jackson, California, growing up there before moving to San Francisco to attend college at the normal school in San Francisco, which was an institution designed to train students right out of high school to become teachers. The normal school in San Francisco was established in 1899 but later became what is now San Francisco State University.
After graduation, Blanche secured a position at Folsom Grammar School in 1925, as the music teacher and basketball couch for the girls’ team. The grammar school later became Granite Elementary. While teaching, she also played basketball on a local team as the center point and piano for a local band called The Seven Knights of Jazz which included Charles Cohn.
In 1938, Blanche married George Sprentz of Sacramento who worked for the Southern Pacific Company, becoming the recognizable Blanche Sprentz the elementary school on Flower drive is named after. The pair made their home at 908 Mormon Street where Blanche continued her work. Upon her retirement in the 1960s, Blanche had worked in the district for 47 years in various roles including Vice Principal and Principal. She passed away at the age of 91 on September 30th, 1995.