Obituaries

Obituaries

PASSAGES: GROCERY INDUSTRY LEADER SHON BONEY DIES OF CANCER

By Miriam Raftery

March 21, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – Shon Boney, a leader in the natural grocery store industry with long roots in East County, died March 8, 2021 at age 52 of brain cancer. 

Grandson of Henry Boney, the founder of Boney’s Marketplace, later known as Henry’s Marketplace, Shon worked in all aspects of the San Diego based business until it was sold to Wild Oats. He then moved to Arizona, where he co-founded and served as CEO of Sprouts Farmers Market, which grew into one of the nation’s preeminent healthy grocery store chains.


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PASSAGES: MARK GOFFENEY, “BIG TOE” MUSICIAN WITHOUT ARMS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Mark Goffeney, Creative Commons image via Wikipedia

March 14, 2021 (El Cajon) – Mark Goffeney, the internationally acclaimed armless musician known as “Big Toe” who inspired people around the world, was found dead on March 2nd in his El Cajon apartment along with his wife, Annmaree. Both were 51. An autopsy will determine their causes of death.

Born without arms in 1969, Goffeney inspired millions with his can-do attitude. He learned to play the guitar and bass with his feet, strumming with his left foot and forming chords with his right.  He was nominated in an Emmy award in 1999 for his role in a Fox commercial, “Feet”, which later aired during the Superbowl in 2000 and 2001.  He’s performed around the world with many top celebrities, also appearing on an array of TV shows.


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PASSAGES: JOHNNY HAKE, JULIAN CERT LEADER AND INSTRUCTOR

By Miriam Raftery

February 9, 2021 (Julian) – Johnny Hake, best known for his leadership to protect Julian during wildfires, passed away on February 1, 2021.  He was 71 years old.

Born Sept. 13, 1949, Hake told the Julian Journal that he met his wife, Diane, in a berry patch. They got married three weeks later, on August 8, 1969.  They raised their family which included adopted children as well as their own.

“I feel so blessed to have been married to Johnny for almost 52 years making amazing memories,” Diane posted on Facebook when she announced his death.  “I could have enjoyed his company for another half a century.”


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PASSAGES: GOODWILL EXECUTIVE FROM LA MESA DIES OF COVID-19

East County News Service

January 16, 2021 (La Mesa) – Bob Kruse, 62, a La Mesa resident who oversaw over 50 local Goodwill sites as Director of Facilities, has died of COVID-19.


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PASSAGES: KELLY LYNNE CAMERON, MEDICAL WORKER AND ROLLER DERBY PLAYER, KILLED WHILE JOGGING IN LA MESA

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Kelly Lynne Cameron with her husband, Tom Hovde, via GoFundMe

January 11, 2020 (La Mesa) – A 54-year-old woman killed while jogging in her La Mesa neighborhood has been identified by the  county medical examiner as Kelly Lynne Cameron. A GoFundMe site set up to help her family indicates she was a front-line medical worker and athlete.


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PASSAGES: WYATT OAKS WINERY CO-OWNER, PARTNER IN LA MESA WINE WORKS, DIES OF CANCER

East County News Service
 
January 8, 2021 (La Mesa) – Gavin McClain, the winemaker and co-owner of Wyatt Oaks Winery along with his wife, Stacy, has passed away of cancer.  He was a partner in La Mesa Wine Works, along with the owners of San Pasqual Winery.

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PASSAGES: REMEMBERING THOSE LOST IN 2020

East County News Service

December 30, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- They include the famous and infamous-- community and business leaders, a sports star, a youth sports coach, a wildlife expert, a hiking leader, foster parent advocate, loving parents and children, a civil rights leader and a notorious racist who once ran for Congress. They died of causes ranging from COVID-19 to other illnesses, accidents and  murder.  These are the people with strong ties in San Diego’s inland region, who passed on in 2020.


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PASSAGES: REMEMBERANCE & FUNDRAISER NOV 13 FOR ALPINE RESIDENT NICKI BUQUET

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Nov. 11, 2020 (Alpine) -- A remembrance & fundraiser for Alpine resident Nicole (Nicki) Erin Buquet, 37, will be held this Friday, Nov. 13, at the Alpine American Legion Post 258 on Alpine Boulevard. Buquet leaves behind two young boys and a husband. A GoFundMe site has also been set up to help her husband , Breydon, and their sons.

She was killed on Oct. 21 in a suspected DUI crash in La Mesa on state Route 125. Buquet was a passenger in a truck that slammed into the back end of a flatbed tow rig parked on the shoulder just south of Interstate 8 according to the San Diego Medical Examiner.


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PASSAGES: GREGORY DENNY, JAMUL GRANDFATHER AND LITTLE LEAGUE COACH, DIES OF COVID-19

By Miriam Raftery

 

July 26, 2020 (Jamul) – Jamul resident Gregory Denny, who worked at Taylor Guitars and was a former Little League coach, died July 24 in a hospital of COVID-19. His wife, Kim Kallege Denny, announced his passing on Facebook, calling him her soulmate and best friend, adding, “He is now my guardian angel.”


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LA MESA PLANS TWO MEETINGS JULY 14: AGENDAS INCLUDE LEASE OF FORMER POLICE STATION SITE, HOMELESS GRANT, SEWER FEE CHANGES, AND FUTURE TOWNHALL ON PROTEST AND RIOT

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 10, 2020 (La Mesa) – The La Mesa City Council will hold two meetings on  Tuesday, July 14:  a special meeting at 5 p.m. followed by the regularly scheduled 6 p.m. Council meeting, both via teleconference.

At the 5 p.m. special session, Council will discuss whether to consider a potential ground lease of the old police station site at the southeast corner of Allison and Date avenues to USA Properties Fund for a housing project. A closed session conference with a real property negotiator will follow the special session.

During the 6 p.m. meeting,  the agenda includes:

  • A presentation by the Climate Action Campaign
  • Interviews with applicants for city boards and commissions
  • Shifting sewer service charges to the county property tax roll
  • Consideration of a grant application to the Permanent Local Housing Allocation Program fund homeless services in La Mesa
  • A proposal by Mayor Mark Arapostathis and Councilmember Akilah Weber to hold a future town hall meeting on the May 30 events that included protests, a confrontation at the police station, and an ensuing riot.

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DON PARENT, LONGTIME SDG&E SPOKESMAN, DIES OF CANCER



 

East County News Service

Updated with funeral and memorial information added.

May 27, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Donald “Don” Parent, long-time Public Affairs Manager for SDG&E and an active participant in many local business and community organizations, died May 25 after a three-year battle with prostate cancer.

“Everyone who knew Don loved him.  He was unfailingly kind, ever ready to help, and could always make you laugh,” his family posted on his Facebook page, voicing gratitude for many heartfelt messages received.  “They are testament to the man he was, and of how many people he touched.”


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MTS CEO PAUL JABLONSKI PASSES AWAY

East County News Service
 
May 10, 2020 (San Diego) – Today, the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) announced that MTS Chief Executive Officer Paul Jablonski passed away suddenly on Sunday, May 10. He was 67 years old; the cause of death has not been released by MTS. His career in transit spanned more than 40 years, including the last 16 years at MTS.
 
“We are shocked and saddened about the passing of Paul,” said MTS Board Chair Nathan Fletcher. “He was a good man who not only ran a great agency but was a respected national transit industry leader. The entire MTS family is grieving right now, and our thoughts and prayers go out to Paul’s family. Deputy Chief Executive Officer Sharon Cooney will serve as the interim chief executive officer.”
 
Before joining MTS in 2004,  Jablonski served as CEO of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority, General Manager of the Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority in Massachusetts, and General Manager of the Saudi Arabian Public Transport Co., according to his Linked In page.
 
He is survived by his wife, four children and grandchildren.

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PASSAGES: BUDDY RABAYA, 58, SANTEE COMMUNITY LEADER

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor
 
Photo: Buddy Rubaya
 
May 6, 2020 (Santee) -- Stalwart Santee community leader Buddy Rubaya, a strong advocate for local mobilehome owners, passed away on April 28, 2020 after suffering a stroke on March 25. 
 
Rabaya was born in Brawley, CA on May 14, 1961. He later moved to Oceanside, where he graduated in 1979 from El Camino High School. During his high school years, he was a star tennis player and was on the speech team. He later continued his studies at Palomar College, where he was also active in student politics and served as executive vice president of the student body. 
 
His active participation in Santee led him to become president of the Santee Mobilehome Owners Action Committee (SMOAC), lobbying for residents rights including rent control. In the same vein, he was appointed regional manager of the Golden State Manufactured Home Owners League’s political action committee.

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PASSAGES: FAMED MOTOCROSS CHAMPION MARTY SMITH AND WIFE KILLED IN DUNE BUGGY ROLLOVER

By Miriam Raftery
 
April 28, 2020 (Alpine) – Motocross Hall of Fame champion Marty Smith, 63, died yesterday along with his wife, Nancy in a dune buggy accident at the Imperial Sand Dunes in Glamis, California.  
 
The couple lived in Alpine and are survived by two daughters, a son and grandchildren.
 
TMZ sports reports that the couple was in a dune buggy that flipped and rolled down a hill. According to TMZ, Marty Smith was not wearing a safety harness and his wife wore only a lap belt. 
 
Lee Rampage posted “with a grieving heart” on social media that he and his wife, Tammi, were with the Smiths when the crash occurred.

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​PASSAGES: RHONDA BURT, 57, HIKING LEADER

By Miriam Raftery
 
February 20, 2020 (Jacumba Hot Springs) – Rhonda Burt, 57, died doing what she loved most – hiking.  On Saturday, Feb. 15, the hiking leader was on the trail with the Jacumba Hikers group through rugged terrain in the Anza-Borrego desert when she suffered a fatal heart attack.
 
She had stopped to rest several times. Another hiker looked back, saw her lying on the ground and rushed to assist her. 911 was called, A Sheriff’s helicopter and ambulance responded, but efforts to resuscitate her failed. Burt, a resident of Imperial, was pronounced dead at the scene, on McCain Valley Road in Boulevard.

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LA MESA MAILMAN KILLED BY HIT AND RUN DRIVER ON DEHESA RD.; JULIAN MAN CHARGED

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo via Featheringill Mortuary
 
February 1, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa resident Kevin Charles Wilson 56, was struck by a Mitsubishi Mirage while riding his bicycle Jan. 20 on Dehesa Rd. near Singing Hills Golf Course in rural East County.  He was taken to Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego, where he was pronounced dead of his injuries.

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PASSAGES: CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER CARROL WAYMON, 1925-2020

By Miriam Raftery

Memorial service has been moved to Bethel Baptist Church on Jan. 24. See details below.

Photo: Carrol Waymon PhD, watching the inauguration of President Barack Obama during a celebration at the Malcolm X Library in San DIego in January, 2009.

January 12, 2020 (San Diego)--San Diego’s most prominent civil rights leader, Carrol Waymon PhD, passed away in early January at age 94.  As executive director of San Diego’s first human rights agency, the Citizens Interracial Committee, he was a tireless fighter for justice who broke down many barriers for people of color.

Born May 15, 1925, Waymon was the grandson of a slave and son of a Methodist minister.  He was one of seven children, including his sister, the late jazz musician Nina Simone. While working on the Los Angeles Human Relations Agency in 1964, he was asked by San Diego's City Council  to come to San Diego and help address racial issues. He moved here and never left,  leading the Citizens Interracial Committee and devoting his life to attaining equal rights for all.

ECM interviewed Waymon in January 2009, during a local viewing of the inuauguration of Barack Obama, our nation’s first African-American president.  For Waymon, who once served as San Diego’s delegate to the funeral of Martin Luther King, Jr., Obama’s election was a major milestone hailed by Waymon.  “It is incredible to me. I couldn’t imagine at that time in 1968 that we’d have a black president 40 years later,” he said.


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PASSAGES: “HAWK WATCH” WILDLIFE RESEARCHER JOHN DAVID BITTNER DIES AFTER FALL IN SAN PASQUAL VALLEY

By Miriam Raftery

January 11, 2020 (Ramona) – John David "Dave" Bittner, 75, of Julian was known to many for the “Hawk Watch” programs he led for decades at the Wildlife Research Institute in Ramona that he founded, and later at the Begent Ranch.  On Thursday, Bittner died of a 50-foot fall suffered while rappelling down to replace batteries and memory cards in a camera near a Golden Eagle nest in the Bandy Canyon area in the San Pasqual Valley.

“We will miss him dearly and are so thankful for his work and dedication to saving wildlife and their special habitat,” the Wildlife Research Institute posting on its Facebook page.  The institute, of which Bittner served as director, pledged to continue hosting Hawk Watch and planned an impromptu memorial service this morning at the Begent Ranch.

Bittner and his wife,Leigh, had a passion for protecting wildlife and purchased 3,000 acres that they donated to the county to buy the Ramona Grasslands preserve and sell property to the Nature Conservancy as a wildlife preserve. That is home to many raptors, including bald eagles.


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PASSAGES: LOCAL LEADERS LOST IN 2019

By Miriam Raftery 
December 29, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) –  These local leaders who passed on in 2019 left their indelible marks on our communities, gone but never forgotten.
 
GEORGE BAILEY  -- Shortly after celebrating his 100th birthday, former La Mesa Mayor and San Diego County Supervisor died at his home on March 11th of congestive heart failure.  He served on the San Diego Association of Regional Governments (SANDAG), chaired the California Councils of Government and was director of the National Association of Regional Councils.. The George Bailey Detention Center was named in his honor, due to his support for winning voter approval to fund  construction.  He was also instrumental in preserving the cross atop Mt. Helix and improving traffic in our region. He is remembered as a leader who left behind an indelible stamp on East County and the San Diego region, drawing respect from colleagues on both sides of the political aisle. 
 
JIM BELL -- Jim Bell, ecological designer and internationally recognized expert on sustainable development who twice ran for mayor of San Diego, was a graduate of El Capitan High School in Lakeside. His vision was vast:  to transform the San Diego/Tijuana Regional economy” from one that relied almost entirely on imported water and energy into an economy that would be prosperous and 100% renewable--energy, water and food self-sufficient--creating a model for others to emulate around the world. He died at age 77 of complications from a stroke. 
 

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PASSAGES: FRANK READ, 108, EARLY LA MESA PHARMACIST

By Miriam Raftery

 

December 26, 2019 (La Mesa) – Frank Read, former owner of Read Pharmacy and pharmacist at Grossmont Hospital, passed away today at his home in La Mesa’s Windsor Hill neighborhood.  He was 108—older than the city of La Mesa.  Back in 2012, when the city celebrated its centennial, Read provided an exclusive interview to East County Magazine, reflecting back on his carefree childhood days of riding a bike to the bay, swimming at local watering holes and watching helium dirigibles. He shared many memories of early La Mesa, also recalling hardships in World War I, Prohibition and the Great Depression as well as his pharmacy career and travels later in life.

 

Below is our original article, reprinted in full:


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PASSAGES: POTRERO RESIDENT JACQUELINE “JACKIE” HICKS, 92

December 11. 2019 (Potrero) -- Jacqueline "Jackie" Eleanor Hicks, age 92, who was born in San Francisco, passed away peacefully at home on November 21, 2019.  Her smile and loving ways will be missed by all who new her, especially her husband of 74 years, Earl Hicks along with her 5 surviving children; Stephanie, Valerie, Jennifer, Paul and Jessica - preceding her in death where her 3 boys; Thomas, James, and Timothy.  She is also survived by; 16 grandchildren, 29 great grandchildren, 2 great-great grandchildren, and 2 Godchildren.  Jackie, as most people called her, made friends everywhere, especially in San Diego's back country.  When moving to Potrero, with her husband and children over 40 years ago, she immediately became a parishioner of St. Adelaide of the Burgundy Catholic Church in Campo.  Throughout the year's she gave of her time and talents to many activities and events while raising her large family.

Services will be held at St. Adelaide's Catholic Church, located at 1347 Dewey Place, Campo, CA 91906, on Saturday, December 21, 2019. The Rosary will take place at 1:00 p.m. and Mass 1:30 p.m.  A reception will immediately follow.  Cards of condolence my be sent to Earl Hicks, PO Box 107, Potrero, CA 91963. In lieu of flowers the family has requested donations be made, in here name, to St. Adelaide Catholic Church or St. Labre Indian School, Ashland, MT 59004-1001 or online at http://www.stlabre.org


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PASSAGES: BORREGO SPRINGS PHILANTHROPIST BILL WRIGHT

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Borrego wildflowers, CC by SA

October 6, 2019 (Borrego Springs) -- Since moving to Borrego Springs from Santa Barbara in 1980, Bill Wright has been a “champion of all things good in Borrego Springs,” according to the Borrego Sun.  The newspaper announced that Wright passed away on October 1 at age 88.


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ALPINE TEEN KILLED IN RAMONA CRASH

East County News Service

September 11, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – Alpine resident Kruize Alan Stockfelt, 18, died at the scene of a head-on crash Sunday morning in Ramona.


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PASSAGES: JIM BELL, ECOLOGICAL DESIGNER 1941-2019

Graduate of El Capitan High in Lakeside became global advocate for sustainable design

By Miriam Raftery

 

September 6, 2019 (San Diego) - Jim Bell, ecological designer and internationally recognized expert on sustainable development who twice ran for mayor of San Diego, passed away in hospice at his home on July 31 at age 77 from complications of a stroke.


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PASSAGES: WESTERN REENACTOR EPIPHANY “EPIE” LOPEZ 1948-2019

By Miriam Raftery

September 1, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – Epiphany “Epie” Lopez of Potrero, best known for his portrayal of bandito Cruz Lopez in the Gaskill Brothers Gunfighters, passed away on August 22, 2019 at age 71.

 

Born January 8, 1948, he was related to the Machados, one of the first families in Old Town, San Diego, though not to Cruz Lopez.  “My family has been in San Diego since 1769,” he once stated. 


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PASSAGES: WADIE P. DEDDEH, SENATOR AND STATESMAN 1920-2019

By Miriam Raftery 

Photo: SDSU Library

August 30, 2019 (San Diego) – Wadie P. Deddeh, former state Senator from San Diego and the first Iraqi-American elected to public office in the United States, passed away on August 27, just days before his 99th birthday.  Hailed as a statesman and an American success story by leaders on both sides of the political aisle, Deddeh;s legacy includes authoring the 1972 bill that established the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) and inspiring generations of immigrants to attain the American dream.


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MEMORIAL SERVICE AUG. 7 IN LAKESIDE FOR KIERAN SHAFRITZ DE ZOYSA, 11, KILLED BY TERRORISTS IN SRI LANKA BOMBING

Update: View 10 News coverage of the celebration of life for Kieran: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtuTIWafbX0

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via Facebook

 

August 4, 2019 (Lakeside) – A memorial service for friends and family of Kieran Shafritz de Zoysa will be held on Wednesday, August 7 at 6 p.m. at Oakoasis Park in Lakeside, where a bench will be dedicated as Kieran’s View. The 11-year-old boy who dreamed of being a neurologist in hopes of finding a cure for Alzheimer’s was killed during the Easter Sunday terrorist bombing on April 21 in Sri Lanka.


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PASSAGES: GEORGE MITROVICH, CITY CLUB PRESIDENT AND CIVIC POWERHOUSE

East County News Service

Photo via LinkedIn

August 4, 2019 (San Diego) – A powerhouse on the local political and civic scene, City Club founder and president George Mitrovich died July 24 at age 83. A graduate of Helix High School in La Mesa, where he played baseball and basketball, he maintained a lifelong love of sports and the principals of democracy, fostering civil dialogue and discussion.


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PASSAGES: CINDY GREEN, RETIRED NURSE AND DEMOCRATIC PARTY ACTIVIST

By Miriam Raftery

July 30, 2019 (Santee) – Cindy Green, a retired pediatric nurse and long-time Democratic Party activist, was found dead in her Santee home on July 27th.  


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PASSAGES: HOWARD COOK, FORMER JACUMBA COMMUNITY LEADER (1930-2019)

East County News Service

July 11, 2019 (Jacumba Hot Springs) - The East County backcountry lost one of its biggest cheerleaders on June 29, when Howard W. Cook passed away peacefully after a short illness. He gave selflessly to the community, serving as Chair and later Secretary for the Jacumba Sponsor Group and as Board Member of the Jacumba-Boulevard Revitalization Committee. 


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