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BOB WILSON Wilson gave his heart and...

BOB WILSON

Wilson gave his heart and soul to making Goat Hill a bona fide

city. He died Jan. 4 of congestive heart failure. He was 86.

Wilson persevered in getting Costa Mesa incorporated and showed

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the same determination in his final days. Wilson told the Pilot in

December 2003 that he wanted to make it to Christmas so he could

spend the day with four generations of his family. The Wilsons bought

their first home in Costa Mesa in 1948 on East Flower Street.

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Their home soon became a hotbed of activism: those who wanted to

see the area become a city met there for brainstorming sessions.

Incorporation supporters triumphed on June 29, 1953. That same year,

Wilson was appointed to the Planning Commission and served as its

chairman. In 1960, he was elected to the City Council, where he

served for 16 years, including three stints as mayor. During his

political life, he spearheaded the building of the first City Hall,

helped bring the Costa Mesa Golf and Country Club to the city and

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aided the acquisition of the land for Fairview Park.

HANS PRAGER

The Ritz founder died Jan. 17 at 74 after a heart attack and

stroke. Prager was a culinary genius and philanthropist whose name is

practically synonymous with fine dining. T

he celebrated restaurateur made his mark in Newport Beach, when he

opened the Ritz Restaurant and Garden. Prager escaped from Nazi

Germany with his family when he was a child and lived in Shanghai,

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China before coming to the United States. Once here, he worked at the

Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, where he honed his talent for cooking. On the

West Coast, he worked at Scandia restaurant and then managed the Five

Crowns in Corona del Mar. Prager found success in many of his

business ventures, opening restaurants in Irvine and Westminster. In

1977, he opened the Ritz in a tiny storefront in Newport Beach.

After its initial success -- credited to the delicious food,

elegant ambience and Prager’s incredible attention to detail, a

regular customer convinced him to move to its present location in

Fashion Island.

JUDY OETTING

The longtime Daily Pilot advertising director worked at the paper

for 21 years, helping to return it to profitability through her

strong character, leadership, creativity and dedication. She died

Feb. 26 at 51.

As the advertising director, Oetting handled people with the ease

of a seasoned psychiatrist -- be it her superiors, those who worked

under her or the advertisers who bought space in the paper, said the

paper’s publisher, Tom Johnson. Oetting joined the paper as a legal

advertising clerk in 1982.

She was promoted to legal advertising supervisor and later headed

that department. But it was 1998, when she became advertising

director, that her leadership qualities sparkled, Johnson said.

PAUL RYCKOFF

The former Newport mayor died March 18 at 85 from complications

from Parkinson’s disease. Ryckoff was an advocate for slow growth and

the environment. He was elected to the City Council in 1972 and

served until 1980 -- a critical period for the city. It was during

this time that Newport Beach was drafting its first general plan,

which Ryckoff helped steer toward slow-growth priorities. The 1970s

were also a time of battles to preserve the Back Bay and to slow

expansion of John Wayne Airport -- causes that Ryckoff was involved

in.

ELMER THOMASSEN

Owner of the Dover Drive home that drew neighbors’ ire since the

‘60s because of junk strewn on his lawn and roof, Thomassen died at

Hoag Hospital on April 14 at age 83.

He had been battling lymphoma and other ailments while city

officials were cracking down on the numerous code violations at his

home, including large quantities of debris on the lawn and tires on

the roof.

TREVOR WIN’E

More than 1,000 people stood solemnly, almost silent, as a

flag-draped coffin containing the body of 22-year-old Win’E was

carried to the front of the auditorium at Calvary Chapel in May.

Family and friends came to pay tribute to Win’E, a longtime Costa

Mesa resident and U.S. Army specialist who died in action in Tikrit,

Iraq, on May 1 after the truck he was driving hit an improvised bomb

the previous day. Family and friends remembered him as a friendly,

supportive and always smiling person.

THOMAS KENDRICK

He was the first salaried president and chief operations officer

of the Orange County Performing Arts Center. He died on May 6 in his

Corona del Mar home. He was 70. Kendrick was first hired by the

center in 1985. He retired in 1993. Kendrick was involved in getting

the center’s new cultural complex on its feet, including planning,

hiring employees, fundraising and marketing. He worked for the

Washington Post from 1959 to 1977, holding a variety of editing

positions. Before joining the performing arts center, he was director

of operations at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in

Washington, D.C., for nine years.

RUTHELYN PLUMMER

Even as the end of her life loomed just around the corner, the

former Newport Beach mayor kept looking straight ahead, eyeing the

future with the anticipation of a young woman with her whole life yet

to live. Plummer died the morning of May 13 from cancer she knew

would be fatal. She was 79. Plummer grew up in Newport Beach and was

living on Newport Island when she won a seat on the City Council in

1980, representing West Newport and the Balboa Peninsula. At the

time, developments were cropping up in the undeveloped parts of town,

and city officials were cutting deals with developers to require them

to build parks and other infrastructure. But those parks and

improvements were all going into the newer parts of town, and Plummer

believed older West Newport should enjoy some of the improvements,

too. In 12 years on the council, which included a term as mayor from

1989 to 1990, Plummer also helped get restrooms built on the beach in

West Newport as well as bus shelters and street improvements

throughout the area.

ARNOLD O. BECKMAN

Hundreds of admirers gathered in June at the Richard Nixon Library

to say goodbye to the intellectual businessman and philanthropist,

who died May 18 at the age of 104. Nearly 400 gathered in the library

garden as speaker after speaker shared favorite memories of the

esteemed man, a longtime resident of Corona del Mar. Beckman was an

inventor, scientist and Renaissance man, whose name graces buildings

at universities throughout the country.

LARRY CAPUNE

Newport lost its “Lifeguard Larry,” Larry Capune, known for

paddling down U.S. coasts and showing movies at Dover Shores in the

summer. Capune died May 25 after months of battling cancer. He was

61. As a tribute, the Dover Shores community gathered to dedicate to

their lifeguard the 150-foot stretch of beach where Capune had kept a

watchful eye on swimmers, children and their parents. It was dubbed

“Larry’s Beach,” a fitting, albeit premature memorial to the man

residents say made an indelible mark on their lives.

RAFAEL REYNOSA

Reynosa was looking forward to the birth of his and his wife

Dinora’s first child when Rafael, a Marine, was killed by a car bomb

explosion in Iraq on May 29. Patti Lanni, a Dover Shores resident who

read Reynosa’s story in the Daily Pilot, couldn’t go about her life

without thinking of it. She talked to her friends and neighbors about

it, and finally, eight of them pitched in to buy a few things for

Reynosa’s baby.

FRAN ALBERS

He transformed the Santa Ana Army Air Base into Orange Coast

College in less time than it takes to carry a baby. And he did it

with the help of amateurs -- 35 students, who were not trained in

carpentry and were paid only 60 cents an hour. Albers, a 61-year

Costa Mesa resident, died May 30. He was 84. Hired as the college’s

carpenter on Feb. 1, 1948, Albers was given only 8 1/2 months to get

the campus ready for classes in the fall. He and his crew turned

barracks into classrooms, offices and lecture halls. One of the

biggest challenges was turning the air base service club into a

college gym. That gym was used by OCC athletes for 13 years. It was moved to Vanguard University in 1962, where it is still in use.

Albers worked for OCC for 33 years, until his retirement in 1981. He

was campus carpenter for the first year, then served as director of

maintenance and operations for 32 years.

HOLLY HALSTED BALTHIS

She was like the “Queen Mum” for Rose Queens. It makes sense. She

was the oldest surviving Rose Queen. And for 73 years, Rose Queens

looked up to Balthis as their glorious predecessor. Balthis died on

July 30 of natural causes at her home in Laguna Beach. She was 95.

She was originally from Los Angeles, moved to Newport Beach in 1957

with her husband, Frank Balthis, a Los Angeles County Superior Court

judge. The couple lived in Bayshores but moved to Laguna Beach in

1972.

GEORGE HARRY YARDLEY III

A Newport Harbor High graduate who went on to become an NBA star,

Yardley died Aug. 12 at his Newport Beach home with all of his family

members at his bedside. The NBA Hall of Famer would have been 76 in

November. The gregarious Yardley, who stood 6 feet 5 and never did

anything without flair, succumbed to a battle with Lou Gehrig’s

disease. Yardley’s career in the NBA lasted just seven years, and he

was named an All-Star six times as he dominated on and off the floor

with his spectacular play and constant upbeat nature. He left the

game at the young age of 31 for two reasons. First, he wanted to come

home. He promised his wife that they would settle in California once

the children reached school age. Second, even though an All-Star, he

was convinced he could make a better living for his family as a

businessman, thanks to an engineering education at Stanford, where he

was a walk-on basketball player for the Indians aside from his

studies.

JACQUES DERRIDA

A prominent philosopher of the 20th century and a UC Irvine

professor of philosophy, Derrida died Oct. 8 of pancreatic cancer at

the age of 74. Derrida, founder of the school of deconstructionism,

was a UCI distinguished professor of philosophy, French and

comparative literature since 1986. He was the author of more than 50

books on subjects such as philosophy, literature, Marxism and

critical legal studies. According to a short bio on the university’s

website, Derrida has influenced philosophical debates throughout the

world and paved the way for new ideas in critical theory.

BRETT JANZEN

A high school youth pastor at the Newport Mesa Christian Center,

Janzen died suddenly on Nov. 13. He was 42. Janzen, an Irvine

resident, had been involved in youth ministry for the last 20 years.

ROBERT ‘BOB’ BARKER

A veteran Orange County newsman who worked at the Daily Pilot for

more than two decades as a reporter and copy editor, Barker died Nov.

18 after a long battle with brain cancer. He was 73. Barker began his

journalism career as a sportswriter in 1957 at the Garden Grove

Evening News, later doing stints at a number of newspapers as a copy

editor, managing editor and reporter covering county and city

government, mostly in Huntington Beach. Barker was known around

Huntington Beach City Hall as much for his hard-nosed,

muckraking-style exposes as he was for his softhearted features,

which he filed for the Pilot for more than 20 years.

DEX AND SANDY

Scientists in December examined and buried the second of two

bottlenose dolphins that inhabited Newport Harbor since July.

Biologists believe the dolphin -- named Dex -- died Nov. 23, which

means it floated around in the bay for more than a week before it was

found. Marine mammal remains usually have a 48-hour window before

they’re considered useless for examination, but the dolphin was well

preserved by frigid bay waters, experts said. Scientists and students

took samples of the dolphin’s brain, blubber, muscle, kidney, liver

and skin and hope to get them analyzed for meningitis and priority

pollutants, including dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, commonly known

as DDT, and metals. OCC’s marine science students took duplicate

samples, so they can conduct their own research, and took turns

assisting their professor with the necropsy procedure by cutting away

muscle tissue from bone. The findings could also shine light on the

death of Sandy, thought to be an older and bigger dolphin, found dead

in late September but too badly decomposed to determine why it died.


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