Obituaries

Obituaries

PASSAGES: CHRIS KYLE, FORMER NAVY SEAL AND AMERICAN SNIIPER AUTHOR

 

 

March 1, 2013 (Alpine) – Former Alpine resident Chris Kyle, who served with Navy Seal Team 3, was gunned down near his home in Dallas, Texas in February by a fellow veteran. This morning, a flag-lowering ceremony was held at De La Fuente Cadillac in El Cajon, where the public joined in commemorating the famed fallen soldier.

 Kyle served five tours of duty in Iraq, where he earned a reputation as one of the U.S. military’s most lethal snipers, earning two purple hearts, four Bronze stars for valor and two Silver Stars. He authored a book, American Sniper, documenting his wartime experiences.

PASSAGES: JOHN MARTES, CO-PRESIDENT, EAST COUNTY DEMOCRATIC CLUB

Update: A memorial service is scheduled for January 5 in El Cajon. Details below.

December 27, 2012 (El Cajon) -- East County Democratic Club co-president John Martes passed after a year-long battle with lung cancer last night at his home in El Cajon. His wife of 40 years, Gloria Martes, and two daughters, Natalie and Leslie, were at his side.

 An accountant/controller at John A. Martes and Associates educated at the University of San Diego, Martes twice ran for the Cajon Valley School District Board and was also a candidate for the El Cajon City Council. 

PASSAGES: FINAL FAREWELLS BID TO THESE EAST COUNTY RESIDENTS IN 2012

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 27, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)—East County lost some prominent residents in 2012, from celebrities and pioneers to lesser known individuals who achieved extraordinary accomplishments in their lives or touched our hearts in their passing. 

Scroll down to read about those lost in 2012; click on their names to read more about these remarkable individuals.

 

 

GROSSMONT HIGH GRADUATE AMONG VICTIMS OF OREGON SHOPPING MALL SHOOTING

By Miriam Raftery

December 12, 2012 (El Cajon ) – Cindy Waddell graduated from Grossmont High School in 1976 and later lived in Scripps Ranch, earning her nursing degree from San Diego State Universtiy before moving to Oregon. Also known as Cindy Passalacqua and later Cindy Yuille, she lost her life in a shooting rampage yesterday at the Clackamas Town Center shopping mall near Portland, Oregon.

Former neighbor Linda Hughes recalled the slain woman as a “devoted mother, a sweet person,” ECM news partner 10 News reports. She was working as a hospice nurse in Oregon at the time of her death.

PASSAGES: MARIA HEIMPEL, HELIX LANGUAGE TEACHER AND HUMANITARIAN

Memorial service planned December 8 in Lakeside

December 6, 2012 (San Diego's East County) – Maria Ines Heimpel, who taught  languages for more than three decades at Helix High School in La Mesa and volunteered for humanitarian causes in San Diego and Tijuana, died peacefully in her home on November 27, 2012.

Her lifelong concern for those in need led to her involvement with a clinic and an orphanage in Tijuana. She also participated as an interpreter with the Mercy Outreach Surgical Team, a group of doctors performing free surgical procedures for poor children in Mexico.

“She was a people person and as a teacher, genuinely interested in each of her students, going out of her way to help them,” fellow teacher and  friend Jean Costa said.  “She was a positive influence on the lives of so many young people and on the lives of people who knew her.”

PASSAGES: FORMER GUHSD BOARD PRESIDENT LARRY URDAHL, RESPECTED PUBLIC EDUCATION ADVOCATE

By Miriam Raftery

December 1, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – Larry Urdahl, a former Alpine resident who served as President of the Grossmont Union High School District Board and as a Trustee from 2004-2008, has died of liver cancer on November 28 at a hospital in Sedona, Arizona.  Urdahl also served as president of the Alpine High School Citizens Committee.  A long-time advocate for public education, he stood up against the GUHSD board majority on behalf of students and parents, fighting for a new Alpine High School in Alpine and against conversion to a charter district.

“Larry and fellow Grossmont Board member, Priscilla Schreiber, tirelessly fought for our high school and we are all indebted to them for getting us so close to that goal,” Sal Casamissima, current president of the AHSCC, wrote in an email today.

PASSAGES: DENNIS AVNER, STALKING CAT, DEAD AT 54

November 14, 212 (Guatay) – Dennis Avner, a former Guatay resident also known by his Native American name, Stalking Cat,  was found dead on November 5 in Tonopah, Nevada. Avner was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most body modifications to resemble an animal, following numerous surgeries, piercings and tattoos to resemble a tiger. 

PASSAGES: FAMED SDSU GEOLOGIST, FORMER CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE GORDON GASTIL 1928-2012

By Miriam Raftery

October 8, 2012 (La Mesa)--Russell “Gordon” Gastil, Ph.D. has made his final journey.  The San Diego State University professor emeritus known for trekking across and mapping the entire state of Baja, Mexico as well as much of the U.S. southwest died September 29, 2012 at his La Mesa home. 

“He was gifted as a geologic visionary,”  geologic science professor wrote in a memorial published at the SDSU website.  “Gastil was an internationally renowned geologist for regional geologic mapping and work on the tedtonic evolution of convergent margins." He mapped thousands of square kilometers in Arizona, Calfiornia and the entire state of Baja, California in Mexico.

Gastil hired six undergraduate students in 1963 to produce a reconnaissance geologic map of Baja. Remarkably, the feat was accomplished in an era when there were no reliable topographic maps and virtually no paved roads, making access challenging.

PASSAGES: PIONEERING KPBS BROADCASTER GLORIA PENNER DIES OF CANCER

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Spark Photography / Provided by KPBS

October 6, 2012 (San Diego) – Broadcast journalist Gloria Penner, a pioneer in local broadcasting and a leading voice at KPBS radio/TV station on the San Diego State University campus for more than half a century, died today of pancreatic cancer. She was 81. 

Her death comes just days before the Women’s History Museum was slated to hold a special tribute to Penner at an October 13 “Broads in Broadcasting” celebration of women who broke through the barriers in the broadcast world.

PASSAGES: MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR RESTAURANT FOUNDER DON SANFILIPPO

 

July 10, 2012 (La Mesa) -- Memorial services were held at Faith Chapel at 11:00 a.m. this morning for Donato "Don" Sanfilippo who was the founder of a popular pizza restaurant in La Mesa. Sanfilippo died on July 1 as a result of a massive stroke that occurred in 2007.  For further information, see the article in the La Mesa-Mount Helix Patch.

 

FUNERAL SERVICES SET FOR HIKER FOUND DEAD IN BORREGO MUD CAVES


Family criticizes search after private investigator locates body; Sheriff defends efforts

May 14, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) –A vigil is set for this afternoon, with a mass service tomorrow morning for Guillermo Pino Jr., 24.  Pino’s body has been recovered from a 60-foot-deep chasm near where he disappeared April 8 in the Arroyo Tapaido “badlands” area in the Anza-Borrego Desert.

PASSAGES: RAMONA RESIDENT THOMAS (BO DONOVAN) BECKER, CAREER BROADCASTER

May 4, 2012 (Ramona) -- Thomas (Bo Donovan) Becker, who lived in San Diego Country Estates, passed away on April 24 surrounded by his family.  A noted radio broadcasting personality, he also founded the award-winning Silvertree Inc. creative services firm and has been active in organizations ranging from United Way to the Better Businses Bureau. 

COMMUNITY MOURNS LOSS OF NFL CHARGERS STAR JUNIOR SEAU

By Miriam Raftery

Flowers, banner at Junior Seau Sports Complex in La Mesa pay tribute to football legend

May 2, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) –East County and San Diego leaders reacted with shock and sadness to news that former Chargers star Junior Seau, 43, was found dead at his Oceanside home today of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.  

A former resident of Mt. Helix and supporter of local charities, Seau also frequently visited the Junior Seau Sports Complex at La Mesita Park in La Mesa that was named in his honor.

“He was always here for us,” La Mesa Art Madrid said, La Mesa Today reported.  “He was part of the family in this town.” 

VALHALLA MOURNS PASSING OF COACH FRANK YANCEY; MEMORIAL SLATED FOR MARCH 9

 

"We will never put our heads down, we will play our hearts out, and we will play for Coach because he will be on the turf with us.” – Clay Meyer, Valhalla Saga

February 29, 2012 (Santee) – Frank Yancey was “an inspiration for all those who served under him,”  Clay Meyer  wrote in the Valhalla Saga.  The school’s varsity football coach passed away February 13 at his home in Santee of an undisclosed cause.

Yancey coached 18 season at West Hills High, five at El Cajon Valley High and his last five at Valhalla.  His East County roots included playing as an offensive lineman at Santana High School and Grossmont College, as well as later at San Francisco State.

GROSSMONT HIGH SCHOOL SAYS GOODBYE TO FORMER FOOTBALL COACH

 

Ron Murphy passed away at age 48
 
By: Ryan Schuler
 
February 20, 2012 (La Mesa) Former Grossmont High School head football coach Ron Murphy passed away on Tuesday after a battle with skin cancer. Murphy was 48 years old.
 
Grossmont High School dedicated its basketball game against Helix High School in honor of Murphy. Grossmont High School also held a celebration of Murphy’s life on Saturday morning at the football field on campus.

HOLLYWOOD SCREENWRITER, AUTHOR FREDERICA ‘FREDDIE’ MAAS MAKES FINAL EXIT AT AGE 111

La Mesa woman who wrote tell-all book about film industry was third-oldest Californian

January 8, 2012 (La Mesa) – Silent movie screenwriter Frederica Sagor Maas gained fame and notoriety in an era when few women attained such acclaim.  But on Thursday, December 29, 2011, Maas made her final exit, passing away at Country Villas, a La Mesa nursing home.

Scripts written by Maas starred some of Hollywood’s leading talents on the silver screen, including Greta Garbo, Norma Shearer and Clare Bow. The Hollywood Reporter called her a “pioneering” female screenwriter, while the Los Angeles Times memorialized her as “one of the last links to the silent film industry.”

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