Sukhwant Kaur Thiara
Sukhwant Kaur Thiara (born on March 20, 1944) was part of the pioneer generation of Punjabi women who arrived in Yuba City after the Second World War. In addition to raising her children, she quietly contributed to the success of the family business and dedicated countless hours of seva at Yuba City’s Gurdwara on Bogue Road.
Born in the village of Sahri in the Hoshiarpur district of Punjab, she completed her high school education. As a teenager, she married Gurdial Singh Thiara, who was a farmer, on September 18, 1960. Six years later she relocated to Yuba City where her family built a successful farm business. As soon as she arrived, she worked in the orchards thinning peach trees, sorting and picking peaches, prunes and walnuts. She helped grade prunes on the family’s dryer. She also worked in the Libby cannery in Gridley for two seasons and at Sunsweet for two years intermittently earning supplemental income for the family.
As the family business grew, so did Sukhwant’s responsibilities. Sukhwant served as the field manager during the harvest seasons in which she bore responsibility for ensuring the quality of the harvest, an important job. She also managed the thinning crews involving about 70 farm workers.
Gurdial Singh and Sukhwant Kaur, Wedding Photo, Dhakowal, Hoshiarpur, Punjab, 1961.
Sukhwant with her daughter, Satpal, Stockton Gurdwara, 1961.
After her husband’s passing in 1997, she began to manage the family business finances. She assumed responsibility for paying the bills and managing payroll for their employees. Sukhwant learned to use software to manage the family business more efficiently. She continues to be involved in managing the office finances and employees.
Gurdial and Sukhwant were co-founders of the second Gurdwara in Yuba City located on Bogue Road. After its opening in 1981, Sukhwant spent countless weekends at the Gurdwara preparing langar for the congregation, and she often served as the lead in the preparation of meals in the langar hall. Among her closest female friends were Balbir Kaur Bains, Karamjit Kaur Mahal, and Gurpal Kaur Gill.
Sukhwant raised three children: Satpal Kaur, Jinder Singh and Ravinder Singh Thiara.
Photographs provided by Sukhwant Kaur Thiara.
Source: Interview with Sukhwant Thiara by Nicole Ranganath, Yuba City, September 8, 2018, with written information provided by Satpal Kaur Thiara.