Obituaries

Obituaries

PASSAGES: REMEMBERING LIVES LOST IN 2022


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PASSAGES: CHUCK MUSE, 89, FORMER HELIX WATER BOARD PRESIDENT

East County News Service

November 16, 2022 (La Mesa) – Charles William “Chuck” Muse, long-serving member and past president of the Helix Water District, died November 10.

 

"We at Helix Water District are saddened by the news of Chuck Muse’s passing," said Kathleen Coates Hedberg, current president of Helix Water District’s board of directors. "He served on the Helix Board from 2004-2016 and represented the communities of Lemon Grove and La Mesa. He was active in the community on many boards. We are grateful for his service and he will be missed."


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PASSAGES: VIVIAN YUBETA-JACKSON, PROFESSOR OF FORENSIC SCIENCES AND NCIS CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATOR

October 14, 2022 (El Cajon) – Vivian "Viv" Yubeta-Jackson passed away on September 24, 2022.  The East County native was bset known as a professor of forensic sciences at National University and as a Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) crime scene investigator, as well as a beloved wife, mother and grandmother.

Born in El Cajon, CA, on January 2, 1956, Vivian Yubeta graduated in 1974, married her El Cajon Valley High School sweetheart, Kerry Jackson (1956-2007) and attended college while raising two sons.


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OBITUARIES: SDSU PRESIDENT EMERITA SALLY ROUSH, 1947-2022

Roush returned in 2017 to lead the university as interim president after more than 30 years as a senior administrator.

By Jeff Ristine, SDSU News Center

October 12, 2022 (San Diego) - Sally Roush, who helped to fashion a sweeping expansion of San Diego State University now underway in Mission Valley during a year as interim president, has died.


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PASSAGES: WHO WAS THOMAS MORENO? THE NAME, A PHOTO, AND THE STORY BEHIND THE BODY FOUND IN A LAKESIDE POND

By Shiloh Ireland

October 5, 2022 (Lakeside) -- On  August 1, 2022, Thomas “Bogi” Moreno's body was found in the pond at Willow Road and Moreno Road, Lakeside. He was 50 years old. This investigative reporter has followed up with conversations with his sister, Rosa Moreno of  Los Angeles, with a San Diego County Sheriff’s homicide investigator, to learn more about the victim’s life and the circumstances surrounding his death.


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PASSAGES: JAMES PEASLEY, VP OF PADRE DAM MUNICIPAL WATER DISTRICT

By Mike Allen

August 5, 2022 (Santee) -- James Peasley, who served on the board of the Padre Dam Municipal Water District for 12 years starting in 2010 and was its current vice president, died Aug. 2, the Santee-based water district announced.


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PASSAGES: BETTY MCMILLEN, LAKESIDE HISTORICAL SOCIETY PAST PRESIDENT

By Miriam Raftery

June 13, 2022 (Lakeside) – Betty Jean McMillen, 82, passed away in her sleep at her Lakeside home on May 29, 2022. McMillen served five terms as President of the Lakeside Historical Society and has long been a key voice for the organization, still co-chairing publicity and social media for the LHS at the time of her death, along with Billy Ortiz.

"In many ways, Betty was the heart of LHS and she will be missed every day," co-president Gary E. Mitrovich  wrote in the LHS newsletter. "Betty's impact on Lakeside is immeeasurable and exemplary. She was well-known and well-liked by the Lakeside community. She leaves us a tremendous legacy that will not be forgotten," he added.


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PASSAGES: FRANCINE PHILLIPS -- WRITER, EDITOR, TEACHER AND MINISTER

East County News Service

June 10, 2022 (La Mesa) – Francine Phillips, an award-winning journalist, editor, writing instructor and communications specialist based in La Mesa, has passed away. Phillips wrote for many local publications, including East County Magazine. She worked as managing editor at the Daily Californian, executive director of California Garden Magazine, and as a freelance copywriter at U-T San Diego, in addition to numerous other communications positions.


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PASSAGES: MARY VICK GENSER, ACCOMPLISHED ARTIST AND LONG-TIME LA MESA RESIDENT, 1930-2022

May 9, 2022 (La Mesa) – Mary Genser, 91, passed away on April 20, 2022, following a long battle with dementia and COVID-19.  She was an accomplished artist, long-time La Mesa resident, and mother of East County Magazine editor Miriam Raftery as well as David Genser of Poway.

She was born Mary Evelyn Vick on August 9, 1930 to Thomas Monroe Vick and Artie Ola Snider Vick in Weatherford, Texas. Raised on her family’s farm during  the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl along with her sister, Winnie Ruth Vick, she learned the values of hard work and integrity. 

“Life was hard, but life was good,” she once wrote of her early years.


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PASSAGES: JOHN BERTIS KENDRICK (1942-2022), A MAN OF MANY TALENTS

By Jamie Kendrick

March 15, 2022 (Lakeside) – Lakeside resident John Bertis “Bert” Kendrick passed away Thursday, February 17, 2022 while in the hospital at the age of 79. He formerly lived in Pine Valley, where he worked at his father’s store and helped open Pine Valley Park.  Later he served in the military and became known locally as a carpenter, equestrian, athlete and talented musician.  


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PASSAGES: COMEDIAN, MUSICIAN AND RADIO HOST RUSS T NAILZ (RUSS STOLNACK)

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via Russ T Nailz on Facebook

 

March 10, 2022 (San Diego)  He often said he’d been making people laugh since June 1957, when he was born. Yesterday, the laughter stopped when Russ Stolnack, Jr., aka Russ T Nailz, died at age 64. The long-time East County resident was a multiple Emmy award-winning entertainer best known as a comedian, radio hostmusician and celebrity auctioneer for charities.

 

On his Facebook page, he celebrated “making a living doing what I love.”

 

He also died doing what he loved, while filming "On The Air."  His  long-time TV and radio cohost, Robert “Sully” Sullivan, said Stolnack “was signing a song with the house band when he had a heart attack, and – just like that – he was gone.”


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PASSAGES: DAN RUSSELL, RETIRED FIREFIGHTER, ADOPT-A-HIGHWAY VOLUNTEER AND SUMMER CAMP INSTRUCTOR

By Miriam Raftery

February 28, 2022 (Sn Diego’s East County) – Dan Russell was a hero in more ways than one.  He worked as a firefighter for 27 years with the San Diego Fire Department. But for the past 15 years, he’s become best know for his tireless efforts to clean up trash along local freeway and other volunteer work in rural East County. But on Saturday, February 26, Russell died in his sleep at age 79.


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PASSAGES: MORRIS CASUTO, 79, DEFENDER OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE

By Donald H. Harrison, San Diego Jewish World, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

February 13, 2022 (San Diego) - Morris Casuto, the Anti-Defamation League regional director who defended San Diego County’s Jewish community against antisemites while forging good relations with other ethnic and religious groups within the county, died from leukemia Friday night, February 11, at the UCSD Jacobs Medical Center.  Graveside funeral services for Casuto, 79, will be conducted at 2 p.m., Tuesday, at El Camino Memorial Park.


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JUNIOR SEAU'S BROTHER KILLED IN HEAD-ON CRASH WITH HELIX WATER DUMP TRUCK

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Savaii Seau and his wife, Megan, on their wedding day, courtesy of the Seau family

Updated 8:30 with information on Seau's wife, Megan, the passenger in his vehicle.

February 2, 2022 (Lakeside) –  Savaii Seau, the brother of former Chargers' linebaker Junior Seau, has died of injuries sustained when the 2005 Audi A6 he was driving crossed the center line on Los Coches Road in Lakeside yesterday and struck a Helix Water District dump truck head on.

His wife, Megan, was a passenger in Seau's vehicle and remains hospitalized in stable condition, a family member told ECM.


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PASSAGES: HAROLD BROWN, ECTLC LEADER AND HOMELESS ADVOCATE, 1957-2022

By Miriam Raftery and  Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Photo via El Cajon Citizens of the Year

February 1, 2022 (El Cajon) – Pastor Harold Brown overcame homelessness and other hardships to become a community leader dedicated to helping others. As founder and CEO of the East County Transitional Living Center (ECTLC) in El Cajon, he championed programs that have helped thousands of people escape homelessness and find hope instead of despair. Brown was also senior pastor of Christian Fellowship  of El Cajon.

Following a long battle with lung cancer, he was hospitalized last week with pneumonia and passed away yesterday morning.

Community leaders voiced sorrow as well as praise for Rev. Brown’s remarkable achievements.

Audio: 


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PASSAGES: COVERT CANYON FOUNDER MARC HALCON DIES OF COVID-19

East County News Service

Photo by Miriam Raftery

January 24, 2022 (Alpine) – Marc Anthony Halcon, a firearms expert who owned shooting centers and the former Covert Canyon paramilitary training camp in Alpine, died of COVID-19 complications on January 14 at age 68.


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PASSAGES: JEFF MARCUS, MAGICIAN, CLOWN AND HYPNOTIST

 

By Karen Pearlman

January 8, 2022 (Alpine) -- Jeff Marcus, an Alpine resident, was one of thousands who died from COVID-19 related issues in 2021.

An entertainer for more than four decades, Marcus's career as a magician, clown and hypnotist was stalled starting in the spring of 2020 when he was unable to perform in front crowds during the pandemic.


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PASSAGES: DIANA PICO, NURSE AND NATIVE AMERICAN HEALER

By Karen Pearlman

December 31, 2021 (Alpine) -- Trained as a nurse, Diana Pico was a healer, teacher and strong believer in spirituality.

The wife of former Viejas Tribal Chairman Anthony Pico, Diana Pico started her career in the medical field and was an oncology nurse, but she later moved into a more comfortable place to help others through alternative and native healing practices.

Pico was a survivor who beat breast cancer and liver cancer, but she died on June 3, of complications from brain cancer. Pico was 65.


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PASSAGES: RON BRADY, CONSTRUCTION LEADER AND PHILANTHROPIST

By Karen Pearlman

December 31, 2021 (La Mesa) -- Ron Brady was the founder of a high profile construction company, but it was the practice of philanthropy over the course of many decades that helped him develop some of his closest community ties.

A native of Fort Worth, Texas, Brady took over his father's business, the lath and plastering contracting firm E.F. Brady that started in 1946, and turned it into a successful construction business known as the Brady Companies. The Brady companies were instrumental in developing much of San Diego County, Los Angeles County and parts of Northern California. The companies specialize in drywall, plaster and lath that are geared toward major commercial projects.

Over the course of his lifetime, he and his wife, Mary Alice, gave away hundreds of thousands of dollars to different organizations, from Sharp Grossmont Hospital to the East County YMCA to the Boys and Girls Clubs of East County.


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MEDICAL CREW AND PILOTS KILLED IN EAST COUNTY PLANE CRASH IDENTIFIED

Photo, left: Learjet crash victims Tina Ward, Julian Bugaj, Laurie Gentz and Douglas Grande, clockwise from bottom. Photo via Oceanside Firefighters Association 3736 Facebook

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Dec. 30, 2021 (El Cajon) -- Two flight nurses and two pilots have been identified as those lost in the Learjet 35A plane crash that occurred Dec. 27 in the Bostonia neighborhood of El Cajon.  

The plane was owned by Aeromedevac Air Ambulance. Tina Ward, Julian Bugaj, Laurie Gentz, and Douglas Grande, the Aeromedevac flight crew N88OZ, all perished in the crash.


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PASSAGES: REMEMBERING LIVES LOST IN 2021

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 31, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – Lost but never forgotten, these are the prominent East County individuals who passed away in 2021, as well as two who died amid the pandemic in 2020 but were not memorialized until this year, when media was notified.

They came from all walks of life: journalists, educators, teachers, a priest, a tribal healer, a firefighter, a police officer, athletes, a musician, business leaders, students, philanthropists, an air ambulance crew, a veteran who survived the Pearl Harbor attack, and many more. Each left their own indelible mark on our region.

Click the name/title to view the full obituary for each of these local luminaries.


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PASSAGES: MIKE HANCOCK, RADIO REPORTER

By Miriam Raftery

November 27, 2021 (San Diego) – Mike Hancock, 59, traffic reporter for several local radio stations and former news director at KNSJ radio, was found dead in his San Diego residence by a friend on November 14 after an illness. His voice has also been heard on the East County Magazine Radio Show, where he was instrumental in mentoring interns and reporting on locations in East County.


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CELEBRATION OF LIFE NOV. 7 FOR UPS DRIVER KILLED IN PLANE CRASH

East County News Service

October 29, 2021 (Santee) – A celebration of life for Steve Krueger, the UPS driver killed by a plane that crashed in Santee on October 11, will be held at Santee Town Center Community Park on Sunday, November 7.  The service will be held from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. fields 1 and 2.  The Santee Town Center Community Park is located at 550 Park Center Community Park, Santee.

“We are heartbroken by the loss of our driver Steve Krueger, and extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends," the company's statement read. "Those who knew Steve said he took pride in his work, and his positive attitude and joyful laugh made the hardest days a little lighter."

Krueger had worked for UPS for 30 years and was just months away from retirement. He had recently purchased a retirement home in Mammoth, NBC 7 reported.


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PASSAGES: OVER 150 TRUCKERS PAY FINAL RESPECTS TO DON FAIN, EAST COUNTY TRUCKING LEGEND WHO DIED OF COVID-19

East County News Service

 

October 26, 2021 (San Diego) -- Approximately 50 family members, friends and admirers of East County trucking legend Donald “Don” Fain stood atop the Santo Road bridge over State Route 52 on Saturday morning to watch a convoy of over 150 trucks pay their respects to the recently departed Fain, owner of Don Fain Trucking in Lakeside. Fain, 77, died on September 9, according to the East County Mortuary.


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PASSAGES: BILLIE FAYE OWENS, JOURNALIST IN EAST COUNTY AND SAN DIEGO REGION

East County News Service

October 18, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) -- Billie Faye Owens, 63, a journalist in San Diego from the mid-1980s until 1996, died at Rochester General Hospital in New York on Oct. 15 from complications from congestive heart failure.

She was taken to United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia, NY, with health issues on July 26 and remained hospitalized for 81 days. At no time did she test positive for COVID-19.

She was born in 1958 in Charlotte, N.C., to Barbara Jean Carter and Billie Eugene McSwain. Her mother moved her when she was 5 to San Diego where she would eventually attend San Diego State University, earning a B.A. in Journalism.

She went to work for the Daily Californian in El Cajon, Calif. in 1989, where she met her second husband, Howard Owens, then a wire and copy editor at the Daily Californian, and currently publisher of The Batavian in Batavia, NY. They were married on the campus of Point Loma Nazarene College in 1993.


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UMPIRES AND FRIENDS INVITED TO HONOR MIKE HART’S MEMORY NOV. 9 AT LA MESA NATIONAL LITTLE LEAGUE FIELD

By Miriam Raftery

October 17, 2021 (La Mesa) – A memorial service for long-time local umpire and newsman Michael “Mike” Jon Hart  will be held on November 9 at 11 a.m. at the La Mesa National Little League Field.  Hart spent years as an umpire behind the plate at the field where he also played baseball in his youth.  A 1970 graduate of Grossmont High, where he also coached, Hart spent decades umpiring local youth and college sports, became President of the San Diego County Umpires Association, and was inducted into the San Diego Sports Officials Hall of Fame.

“It would really mean a lot to our family, and a true honor to Mike, if we saw a lot of umpires in the audience,” says Carlynne Albee, sister of Hart’s wife, Michelle Harvey. Umpires are invited to dress in uniform as a tribute.

Hart, also known locally as the long-time publisher of the Julian News , died September 14 after battling brain and lung cancer.


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PASSAGES: REX COLE, GOLF PRO AT LOCAL COURSES

East County News Service

October 5, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – Rex A. Cole Sr., a PGA golf professional and instructor at several local golf courses, passed away on August 25. 


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PASSAGES: JULIAN NEWS PUBLISHER MICHAEL HART LOSES BATTLE TO CANCER

By Miriam Raftery

September 22, 2021 (Julian) – Michael Jon Hart, long-time publisher of the Julian News and past president of the San Diego County Umpires Association, died September 14 after battling brain and lung cancer. His wife, Michelle Harvey, confirmed Hart’s passing on her Facebook page.

“Mike and I have so many friends,” Harvey posted. “I am glad that we spent our lives working to help others.”

The newspaper has been for sale for months; Hart’s death leaves the future of Julian’s newspaper in limbo.  A newspaper listing in July asked $300,000 for the publication, which was described as “highly profitable” despite pandemic lockdowns.

Hart and Harvey acquired the independent weekly newspaper on July 4, 2004; the paper has been the voice of Julian, CA since 1984. It’s been a labor of love for Hart, who covered major news stories ranging from the 2007 Witch Creek Fire that ravaged the region to controversies involved the county’s acquisition of Julian’s formerly all-volunteer fire department. Hart sometimes took heat for his coverage but took pride in covering all sides of community issues, according to Harvey.


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PASSAGES: VERN MARSTON, "MR. POWAY"

Source:  Poway Chamber of Commerce

September 2, 2021 (Poway) - The Poway Chamber today announced the passing of long-time Chamber member and former Chamber President, Vernard “Vern” Marston. Vern, a 49-year resident of Poway, died with his family at his side on August 24, 2021. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather, community banker, retired USAF Lt. Colonel, and dedicated member of the Poway Chamber of Commerce. Vern was often referred to as "Mr. Poway".


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ECM PADRES REPORT: DODGERS SWEEP PADRES 4-0

By Liz Alper
 
Photo:  Trent Grisham's home run-saving catch was the only highlight of tonight.  Via @padres on Twitter 
 
August 26, 2021 (San Diego) - Last night, the Padres and Dodgers played 16 innings and guess what?  The Padres still lost.  So tonight’s game was just for fun to see if they could salvage a game.  A great pitching matchup awaited in Max Scherzer for L.A. against Yu Darvish.

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