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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: Mon, 18 Dec 2017 11:06:20 -0800

Copyright: ©2017 San Diego Union Tribune

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...

Influential Scripps oceanographer Wolf Berger dies at 79

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 13:45:00 PDT

Wolfgang “Wolf” Berger, a Scripps Institution of Oceanography researcher whose big insights about tiny fossils helped to reveal the history of the world’s oceans, died on August 6. He was 79.

Mr. Berger’s passing was announced by Scripps, which says the paleoceanographer passed away in San Diego....

Early TV critic, longtime San Diego columnist Don Freeman dies at 95

Sat, 5 Aug 2017 06:00:00 PDT

Before there was “E!,” “Entertainment Tonight” and “Access Hollywood,” there was San Diego newspaper columnist Don Freeman, who covered television and entertainment starting in the 1950s, well before his beat became its own industry.

Freeman died of natural causes at Silverado Memory Care Community...

La Mesan Mary Louise 'Freddie' Frederick-Olbrich, 87, stunt woman on 'Route 66'

Wed, 2 Aug 2017 16:35:00 PDT

A respected banker and accountant in San Diego for several decades, Mary Louise “Freddie” Frederick-Olbrich didn’t talk much about her 1960s television appearances..

On the CBS TV series “Route 66,” which ran from 1960-64, Ms. Frederick-Olbrich worked as a stunt woman with actor Martin Milner....

Tom Cushman, longtime columnist in San Diego, dies at 83

Wed, 5 Jul 2017 18:30:00 PDT

You could read his stories across a sparkling 43-year career as a sports writer in Colorado Springs, Philadelphia and San Diego to understand what his subjects meant to Tom Cushman, but the measure of the man was what he meant to them.

Cushman provided an insight in his final column for the Union-Tribune,...

Spencer Johnson, author of parable 'Who Moved My Cheese?' dies at 78

Mon, 3 Jul 2017 16:15:00 PDT

Dr. Spencer Johnson, author of “Who Moved My Cheese?” and co-author of “The One Minute Manager,” among the best-selling books of all time, has died. The former La Jollan was 78.

He was a little-known children’s book author in the early 1980s when he met Ken Blanchard at a cocktail party in San...

Danah Fayman, longtime San Diego arts champion, has died at 97

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 17:00:00 PDT

Few people made as indelible a mark on San Diego’s arts and cultural scene for as long as Danah Fayman, who died June 18 at her San Diego home at the Meridian downtown.

Fayman was 97 and had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in January. She had been in a wheelchair for the past five years, although...

Iwo Jima veteran, art collector, Ocean Beach pier promoter Charles Bahde dies at 91

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 15:55:00 PDT

Charles “Chuck” F. Bahde — a soldier who stormed ashore with the Marines on Iwo Jima, designed popcorn machines and helped erect the Ocean Beach pier — has died in Rancho Sante Fe after a battle with heart disease. He was 91.

He had become known throughout the region for his philanthropy, steadfast...

Virtuoso accordionist Lou Fanucchi dies at 55

Mon, 5 Jun 2017 12:30:00 PDT

Virtuoso accordionist Lou Fanucchi could represent the musical traditions of many cultures and he spent a lifetime expanding upon the sound of an instrument narrowly associated with polka or mariachi ensembles.

But it was the emotional connection he created that made him memorable, whether serenading...

Former SDSU Dean Tom Scott dies at 72

Sat, 20 May 2017 08:45:00 PDT

Tom Scott, who served as dean of the College of Sciences and was vice president of research at San Diego State University before retiring in 2014, died of a heart attack May 15, according to SDSU. He was 72.

Scott became dean of the College of Sciences at SDSU in 2000 and in 2005 assumed the roles...

Charlie Miinch, hubcap store owner, racing enthusiast dies at 85

Tue, 11 Apr 2017 09:40:00 PDT

Charlie Miinch was one of the last go-to guys for hubcaps in San Diego County, a veritable walking encyclopedia of knowledge about any wheel cover on every moving vehicle.

His sharp memory also allowed him to regularly regale his customers at Charlie’s Hub-Caps with stories about the heyday of...

Rosie Hamlin, the singer in San Diego's Rosie and The Originals, dead at 71

Sat, 1 Apr 2017 17:40:00 PDT

Rosie Hamlin, the lead singer in the San Diego band Rosie and The Originals, died Thursday at the age of 71. She was a teenager when she wrote and sang lead on the Originals’ classic 1961 hit, “Angel Baby.” It was later covered by everyone from John Lennon, Linda Ronstadt and Jenni Rivera to Tiffany...

Alice 'Lefty' Mc Naughton, of famed WWII-era girls baseball league, dies at 92

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 13:55:00 PDT

Alice “Lefty” Mc Naughton was one of the legendary women who played professional baseball in the 1940s and 50s, keeping the sport alive while the men were at war.

The third of three kids, Mrs. Mc Naughton loved baseball from a young age, showing interest as young as 5.

“They’d send her out to right...