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Obituaries - San Diego Union Tribune

San Diego obituaries, honoring recent deaths and locals who have left their mark on the San Diego community and its residents.

Last Build Date: Sat, 17 Mar 2018 22:01:36 -0700

Copyright: ©2018 San Diego Union Tribune

Services Friday for Don Parker, search and rescue team leader

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 16:00:00 PST

A 17-year-old girl was missing. One day, two days, three.

“How long are you going to keep looking?” reporters asked. And Sgt. Don Parker answered: “We’re not giving up.”

It took five days and the largest search in county history, but they finally found Chelsea King’s body in a shallow grave along...

Respected federal magistrate judge dies after battle with brain cancer

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 13:30:00 PST

U.S. Magistrate Judge David Bartick, who served on the federal bench in San Diego for nearly six years and litigated complex cases as a criminal defense attorney, died earlier this week following a long battle with brain cancer.

He died Sunday at home surrounded by his family, court officials said...

Jack Brandais, 'joyride guru' who shared love of county roads, dies from heart attack at 59

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 12:10:00 PST

There’s no telling how much peace and harmony Jack Brandais brought to San Diego by suggesting to people that they get out of the house.

Get out and drive.

For almost two decades, his “Weekend Driver” column in the Union-Tribune told readers about the county’s best roads — the most scenic, the...

Hartwell Ragsdale III, of prominent San Diego mortuary family, dies at 64

Tue, 6 Feb 2018 15:00:00 PST

As the fourth generation of a prominent San Diego mortuary family, Skipper Ragsdale was around death all the time. Ask him how he was feeling, and he always had the same answer.

“I’m blessed,” he said.

Even after he suffered a stroke three years ago, there was no change in that answer, and it was...

Community leader Ben Segawa, imprisoned with family in WWII internment camp, dies at 87

Fri, 2 Feb 2018 15:50:00 PST

Ben Segawa never forgot what happened to his family in 1942, when the U.S. government ordered Japanese-Americans into prison camps during World War II. He wanted the public to remember, too.

“He wasn’t an angry man, he was a sharing man,” said Linda Canada, archivist for the Japanese American Historical...

Legendary wildland firefighter Bill Clayton dies

Tue, 30 Jan 2018 13:25:00 PST

Bill Clayton, a wildland firefighting expert who saved countless lives and entire towns during a career that spanned 50 years, died Sunday at the age of 77 of natural causes at his home in Carlsbad.

“He was a legend in the fire service,” said lifelong friend and recently retired Cal Fire Battalion...

John S. Hattox, 96, San Diego physician and philanthropist

Fri, 2 Feb 2018 00:00:00 PST

San Diego physician John S. Hattox devoted his career — and his retirement — to serving the community. He was also an admirer of American author Ernest Hemingway, and shared his enjoyment of travel, hunting, sportfishing, adventure.

“He led a long life, well-lived,” said his son, John S. Hattox...

Ursula K. Le Guin, acclaimed for her fantasy fiction, is dead at 88

Tue, 23 Jan 2018 15:35:00 PST

Ursula K. Le Guin, the immensely popular author who brought literary depth and a tough-minded feminist sensibility to science fiction and fantasy with books like “The Left Hand of Darkness” and the Earthsea series, died on Monday at her home in Portland, Ore. She was 88.

Her son, Theo Downes-Le...

San Diego's high-kicking weatherman John Coleman dies

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 16:00:00 PST

John Coleman, the dancing, prancing San Diego weatherman who tickled television viewers by the way he would sing the letter U in KUSI-TV’s call sign and yell “breeeeze” when the wind was howling, died on Saturday. He was 83.

Coleman, who also angered many people by insisting that global warming...

Funeral for WWII aviator Rudy Matz celebrates his humble nature, quiet heroism

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 16:35:00 PST

Rudy Matz came home from World War II and put his medals in a desk drawer. He didn’t talk about rescuing survivors from the ocean during the Battle of Midway. He didn’t relive his aerial combat with Japanese pilots, four of them shot down in a single day.

He got on with his life: husband and father,...

Navy war hero Batzler to be buried at Miramar

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 17:00:00 PST

A Navy hero of the war in Vietnam who later commanded two carrier battle groups, retired Rear Adm. John “Jack” Batzler, will be buried at Miramar National Cemetery.

A resident of Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Batzler died on Dec. 20 at Scripps Health’s Prebys Cardiovascular Institute in La Jolla, a week...

Gordy Thompson, 76, longtime baseball coach at Granite Hills High School

Wed, 3 Jan 2018 17:05:00 PST

Only a handful of high school baseball coaches can claim that several of their student-athletes had careers as major league baseball players, and Granite Hills High School skipper Gordy Thompson was one of them.

The Minnesota native coached no less than a half-dozen MLB players over 20 years —...

Mundell Lowe dead at 95. Guitar great played with Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Everly Brothers and more.

Sat, 2 Dec 2017 16:55:00 PST

Mundell Lowe, the guitar master whose many musical partners included Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Charlie Parker, Benny Goodman and the Everly Brothers, died Saturday morning at his San Diego home. He was 95 and had been receiving hospice care since Monday.

In the past decade, Lowe had bounced...

Ben Dillingham: Gay rights activist, community leader

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 16:50:00 PST

Ben Dillingham was one of the first openly gay power brokers in San Diego, a City Hall insider who cleared the path for pioneering local and state office-holders.

“Until we all come out of the closet,” he once said, “it will not be safe for any of us.”

Mr. Dillingham died Thursday at his San Diego...

Dr. Joseph Joyner, pioneering pediatrician

Wed, 8 Nov 2017 16:40:00 PST

When Dr. Joseph Joyner moved to San Diego in 1967, he offered black children of the city’s southeast community and their parents a professional face most of them never had seen before: a pediatrician who looked like them.

In the black community, “Children would go to a general practitioner or family...

SDSU professor, leader at KPBS and in public broadcasting

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 18:25:00 PDT

The impact John Witherspoon made on public broadcasting reverberated in his home base of San Diego, as well throughout the country and the world.

Mr. Witherspoon became the first general manager in 1967 for what is now KPBS, the local public radio-TV station. His long tenure as professor at San...

Rufus Hannah: 'Bumfights' participant who turned life around dies in Georgia crash

Mon, 9 Oct 2017 15:30:00 PDT

Fifteen years ago, he was “Rufus the Stunt Bum,” a homeless alcoholic in La Mesa goaded into degrading and damaging antics by young men with video cameras.

Then Rufus Hannah turned his life around. He stopped drinking and became an advocate for the homeless. He got married, co-authored a book,...

Chris Saunders, longtime San Diego TV journalist, dies at 67

Tue, 10 Oct 2017 14:45:00 PDT

An accomplished broadcast journalist admired for his quick wit and thorough reporting, Chris Saunders was the kind of man who didn’t have acquaintances. He only had friends.

“He was a goofball but also engaging and an incredibly dedicated and a fabulous journalist,” Marsha Herman, his wife, says....

Bernie Jones, former Union-Tribune journalist, dies at 65

Tue, 3 Oct 2017 06:00:00 PDT

Bernie Jones was born in Baltimore during the civil rights era and raised by his grandparents on a farm in eastern North Carolina.

A former editor at The San Diego Union-Tribune, he wrote in a 2001 column that his small, segregated community “was a wall of tradition that separated black folk and...

Daniel Yankelovich, master of public opinion research, dies at 92

Fri, 22 Sep 2017 13:55:00 PDT

Daniel Yankelovich, the pollster, author and public opinion analyst who for a half-century mirrored the perceptions of generations of Americans about politics, consumer products, social changes and, not least, themselves, died on Friday morning at his home in La Jolla. He was 92.

His daughter, Nicole...

Daniel G. Lewis, founder of Civic Youth Orchestra, dies at 92

Tue, 5 Sep 2017 12:15:00 PDT

While Daniel G. Lewis had a lauded career as a violinist, conductor and teacher in the Los Angeles area, San Diego was where it all began. When here, from 1948 to 1963, Mr. Lewis earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, spent a decade with the San Diego Symphony, taught music in local schools...

Louise Hay, popular self-help author and executive, dies at 90

Sun, 3 Sep 2017 18:05:00 PDT

Louise Hay, who from a 1984 best seller built a self-help publishing empire that has attracted millions of devotees with its messages about the power of thought and attitude, died on Wednesday at her home in San Diego. She was 90.

Her death was announced on the website of her company, Carlsbad-based...

Susan Vreeland, author of art-based best sellers, dies at 71

Thu, 31 Aug 2017 15:25:00 PDT

In 1971, a young high school English teacher named Susan Vreeland visited the Louvre and exited with a pledge to make art her life’s companion – “to fill my mind with rich, glorious, long-established culture wrought by human desire, daring and faith.”

Once filled, her mind spun out a string of...

Longtime theater director and mentor Don Ward dies at 83

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 15:00:00 PDT

As a revered director-choreographer and the patriarch of San Diego’s first family of the stage, Don Ward helped guide and inspire legions of theater artists here over the years.

Mr. Ward, whose more than 60-year career is deeply intertwined with the history and fortunes of San Diego theater, died...

The late Jerry Lewis' ties to San Diego date back more than 60 years

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 18:00:00 PDT

Jerry Lewis considered San Diego a second home, almost from the first time he moored his yacht, Sam's Place, here in 1989 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel & Marina, where he kept it docked until he sold it a year ago.

But the legendary comedian, who died Sunday in Las Vegas of natural causes at the...