This year saw one of the most well-known figures in San Diego history pass: Father Joe Carroll, whose legacy continues.

We also said goodbye to academic leaders and multiple veterans from the Greatest Generation who fought in some of the most pivotal battles of all time.

Tom ‘Tomcat’ Courtney, 91, Jan. 11

He learned the blues from musicians traveling through the hardscrabble Texas plains of the 1930s.

He brought those blues with him to San Diego in 1971, where he endeared himself to generations with his version of raw Texas blues with a dose of Chicago flavoring.

He shared his music not just with audiences several times a week, but with youthful musicians who were looking for realism in their own sound. Locally, the Spring Valley resident was often called the “godfather of the blues.”

Tom Blair, 74, Jan. 26

He was the consummate man-about-town who parlayed his passion for words and music into a career that delighted and entertained generations of San Diegans through his newspaper column, big band jazz performances and 1960s rock ‘n’ roll cover songs.

Tom Blair

(The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The longtime newspaperman covered local politics before turning his pen to the three-dot columns that chronicled the life and times of San Diego in brief and humorous anecdotes published in the Evening Tribune and The San Diego Union.

He and his former wife, Wendy, also performed in a jazz trio, a big band jazz ensemble and a rock band called Cluck and the Chickens.

Trunnell Levett Price, 71, Jan. 26

He was among the last of San Diego’s original Black Panthers. He was memorialized not only for the fight he embarked on some 50 years earlier, but for mentoring a crop of young activists who are carrying on the iconic movement’s legacy today.

“He was very concerned for the community, for poor people in general, especially Black people,” Pastor Buddy Hauser, who served in the Panthers with Price as a youth, said at the memorial service. “He stood for us when a lot of people weren’t even thinking about us.”

Larry T. Baza, 76, Feb. 20

He was a native son whose lifelong pursuit of championing the arts made him a cultural titan in San Diego.

He discovered the theater and visual arts communities as a student at San Diego High School.

Larry T. Baza

Larry T. Baza

(Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune)

For more than four decades, he used his voice advocating for San Diego’s artistic and cultural community at the local, state and national levels. He served on countless panels, boards and commissions, including the National Endowment for the Arts, California Association of Local Arts Organizations, Chicano Federation of San Diego County, National Association of Latino Arts and Culture, San Diego Community Foundation and Diversionary Theatre.

He served as chair of San Diego’s Commission for Arts and Culture before being appointed to the California Arts Council in 2016 by then-Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins.

Willie Blair, 69, Feb. 25

He was a San Diego community leader who fought for racial equity at City Hall and in Congress, and later as president of the Black American Political Association of California.

California Secretary of State Shirley Weber said he had laid the groundwork for the next generation of leaders through his years of public service and at the helm of BAPAC, a civic engagement and public policy think tank that helps African American Californians improve their educational, professional and economic opportunities.

Blair was also a Navy officer. He served for eight years, including a tour of duty in Vietnam as a small boat leader, where he participated in the evacuation of Saigon and Cambodia in May of 1975.

Robert L. Moore, 91, Feb. 25

He was the last surviving Montford Point Marine in San Diego County. Moore served in both the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Robert L. Moore

Robert L. Moore

(Eduardo Contreras/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The Montford Point Marines were the first Black men to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps. Beginning in August 1942, about 20,000 Black men — including Moore — trained at the segregated Camp Montford Point in Jacksonville, N.C.

“He lived a good life, full of adventure,” said his granddaughter, Trina Lloyd. “My grandfather was very modest. He didn’t think he was anything special, but he really was an extraordinary man.”

Jack Port, 98, March 16

His 15 months as an Army rifleman in Europe during World War II came to define his life. But friends say that the work the longtime Escondido resident did after the war in the business, education and charitable communities made him a local legend.

Over the past 20 years, he became well known for sharing his experiences about landing on Utah Beach during D-Day, and fighting his way across Europe.

He would return to the small towns of Normandy more than 30 times for D-Day commemorations. France awarded Port its highest military award, the French National Order of Legion of Honor, in 2009. And in 2018, the French city of Saint-Pois named its high school after him, the Ecole Publique Jack Port.

For nearly 30 years, Port ran a men’s clothing store in downtown Escondido, and he served on the San Diego County Board of Education for 28 years. With Jack Raymond of Escondido, he co-founded and was a longtime director for North County Bank and the Escondido Community Foundation.

The Escondido History Center named him as one of the city’s eight Escondido Legends, a program that Raymond underwrote with $1,000 scholarships in each of the eight men’s and women’s names.

George Dallas McKinney, 88, March 20

Bishop McKinney was a towering figure in San Diego’s Black religious community for 60 years.

The great-grandson of a slave and the son of a sharecropper, McKinney started St. Stephen’s Cathedral Church of God in Christ in the basement of a pizza restaurant in 1962 and shepherded it into a Valencia Park mainstay that included a K-12 school, two senior centers, and low-income housing.

Bishop George D. McKinney

Bishop George D. McKinney

(U-T file photo)

As bishop, he oversaw about 40 Church of God in Christ congregations in Southern California and sat on the Pentecostal denomination’s national board.

“He led the way for so many of us who now stand on his shoulders,” said the Rev. Terry Wayne Brooks, senior pastor at Bayview Baptist Church in San Diego. “He was a man of the community who knew that he had to do more than preach. Sometimes you have to provide and protect. He lived that life.”

James R. Mills, 93, March 27

The San Diego native and longtime Coronado resident was a retired state Assembly member and state senator who authored legislation that created the local trolley system and Old Town State Park.

Former Senator, James Mills, stands outside of the Casa de Bandini restaurant in Old Town.  UT/CRISSY PASCUAL April 12, 2001

James Mills

(U-T file photo)

The Mills Act, named after him, has been credited with saving thousands of historic residential and commercial buildings from destruction in California by reducing property taxes for owners who preserve them.

He secured funding to help restore the Old Globe Theatre after it burned in 1978, and he steered appropriations for construction of the library at San Diego State and Third College (now Thurgood Marshall College) at UC San Diego.

Richard Emerson, 70, April 2

He was the Chula Vista police chief from 1992 and 2009.

Emerson was remembered as a role model and mentor who left a mark on the careers of his subordinates.

Under his leadership, the Chula Vista Police Department created new units, including a special investigations team; doubled the size of the traffic unit to address community concerns; expanded the school resource officer unit from one officer to 23; created volunteer positions, including senior patrol volunteers; founded the Chula Vista Police Foundation, the fundraising arm of the Police Department; and constructed the police station that houses the department today.

Clayton Schenkelberg, 103, April 14

He was believed to be America’s oldest Pearl Harbor survivor.

Born a year before the Spanish Flu swept the country, his final year included a run-in with COVID-19. He caught it but didn’t get sick, family members said.

As Clayton Schenkelberg, 102,  looks on, his great-grandson, Patrick, tossed a  wreath into Bay from  Midway

As Clayton Schenkelberg, then 102, looks on, his great-grandson, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Schenkelberg, tossed a memorial wreath into San Diego Bay from the flight deck of the USS Midway Museum, during the annual Pearl Harbor Remembrance Ceremony.

(U-T file photo)

He was a Navy torpedoman on that fateful day of Dec. 7, 1941. He volunteered to drive a train loaded with the underwater missiles away from strafing Japanese airplanes. Then he ran to an armory, grabbed a rifle, and started shooting back.

After the war, he stayed in the Navy for another two decades, got married and raised seven children, and eventually settled in San Diego, where he had a second career as a high school custodian.

Margaret ‘Peg’ Marston, 100, April 15

She was a homemaker and community volunteer who carried on her pioneering family’s passion for the history and natural beauty of San Diego.

She was the widow of Hamilton Marston, who like his father and grandfather before him ran the family’s self-named department store downtown and became a tenacious supporter of Balboa Park and of environmentally sensitive land development.

Margaret, left and Hamilton Marston hold an old book

Margaret, left, and Hamilton Marston hold Marston family memorabilia at a 1978 reunion luncheon in the U.S. Grant Hotel celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of Marston’s department store.

(U-T file)

“Marston is a name that carries historic weight in San Diego, right up there with Scripps and Spreckels and Horton,” said Bill Lawrence, executive director of the San Diego History Center. “Peg was an incredible steward of the Marston name.”

Her civic activities included the artistic and educational Wednesday Club, one of San Diego’s oldest women’s organizations, and auxiliary groups with ties to UC San Diego, the Salk Institute and the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.

Jim ‘Mouse’ Robb, 87, April 22

He was a legendary San Diego surfer who started riding waves in the 1940s on 70-pound longboards made out of redwood. He became a father figure to dozens of local lifeguards and assorted water rats.

Robb won trophies and was renown as a tandem surfer, hoisting women overhead as he rode. He organized and judged major surfing competitions.

What set him apart, his admirers said, was his decadeslong embrace of the ocean — the waves, the seafood, the bracing salt air — and of the “spirit of Aloha” that animates the lives of its most devotees.

Marye Anne Fox, 73, May 9

She was a tough-minded chemist who guided UC San Diego through eight years of growth as the school’s chancellor.

She earned a doctorate in chemistry at Dartmouth in 1974. She went on to become a chemistry professor at the University of Texas, where she rose to vice chancellor of research.

San Diego, CA_10/15/2010_UCSD chancellor Marye Anne Fox

In 1994, her research, policy work and bridge-building with industry earned her election to the National Academy of Sciences. At the time, fewer than 100 of the academy’s 1,700 members were women.

Fox, who was awarded the National Medal of Science for her insights about sustainable energy, was named chancellor of UC San Diego in 2004. At the time the campus had 24,663 students. The figure grew by 3,631 by the time she stepped down in 2012. The school’s research funding also surpassed the $1 billion level, making UC San Diego among the 10 largest research schools in the country.

Gail Stoorza-Gill, 77, May 16

She founded a small San Diego company in the 1970s that quickly grew to become the largest independent public relations and advertising agency in California.

She started her company at a time when women-owned businesses were not only rare but blocked from joining some civic organizations.

Gail Stoorza Gill, in her downtown office on March 29, 1989.

Gail Stoorza-Gill

(U-T file)

She founded her self-named company in 1974, which later became Stoorza, Ziegaus and Metzger. Considered the biggest enterprise of its kind owned by a woman, the firm had a staff of more than 100 and offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Riverside.

The company attracted a client list that included the Port of San Diego, La Costa Resort, McDonald’s, the Economic Development Corp. and companies in what was then a nascent biotechnology industry. Working with the Padres, she and her company worked to help pass the proposition that resulted in the construction of Petco Park.

Jesse Macias, 73, June 4

He was a broadcast journalist who for decades delivered news to San Diego television audiences while breaking barriers as a Latino reporter.

He worked as a news reporter for CBS 8 San Diego and other local stations, from the 1970s until his retirement in 2009. He was one of the first Latino television reporters in the area and covered many breaking news stories, including the PSA Flight 182 crash in 1978 that killed 144 people, one of the deadliest air disasters in California history.

Jesse Macias with his daughter, Mariana Palmer

Jesse Macias with his daughter, Mariana Palmer

(Courtesy )

He earned an Emmy for his investigative reporting on labor conditions for migrant farmworkers. He won other awards from such organizations as the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the Radio & Television News Association of Southern California and the California Chicano News Media Association.

Neil Ash, 96, June 11

He was a World War II veteran and attorney who dedicated the last 35 years of his life to local philanthropic causes, such as the USO San Diego.

Ash was a well-known figure in volunteer and fundraising circles, having served on the boards of the San Diego Symphony, San Diego Museum of Art and Scripps Memorial Hospital, as well as Irvine’s Concordia University and the University of Southern California’s law school.

When the symphony went broke in 1996, Ash helped keep the orchestra afloat by subsidizing the musicians’ paychecks. And when the USO San Diego needed a permanent transit center for military personnel at San Diego International Airport, Ash and his wife, June Barrymore Ash, underwrote the project with matching $100,000 checks. Today, the 5,000-square-foot waiting area is named the USO Neil Ash Airport Center.

At the center’s dedication in 2016, former USO San Diego board member Karen Miller told the Union-Tribune: “There would not be a USO San Diego without Neil Ash.”

Frank Wada Sr., 99, June 14

He was born in Redlands, where he faced frequent anti-Japanese discrimination when he was growing up in San Bernardino County. After high school, he worked on his sister Mary’s farm in Chula Vista. Three months after Pearl Harbor, his family was ordered into internment. They ended up at the camp in Poston, Ariz. But that didn’t stop him from fighting for his country in World War II.

Frank Wada Sr., photographed in 2018 by Shane Sato

Frank Wada Sr.

(Shane Sato)

Wada served in the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team, an all-volunteer regiment made up primarily of nisei, the American-born second-generation descendants of Japanese immigrants. Wada saw heavy combat as the 442 fought across Europe.

The 442 would become one of the most decorated units, for its size and length of service, in the history of the U.S. military. Roughly 18,000 men served, ultimately earning more than 4,000 Purple Hearts, 21 Medals of Honor and an unprecedented seven Presidential Unit Citations, according to the Go For Broke National Education Center. “Go For Broke” was the regiment’s motto, representing the soldiers’ “shoot the works” fearlessness in battle to prove their patriotism to their native land.

Family members say they believe Wada was the regiment’s last local survivor.

Thomas Day, 89, June 15

He was San Diego State University president’s for 18 years.

As the university’s sixth president, Day expanded its research clout, added doctoral programs, pushed for greater diversity among the faculty and student body, and launched a graduate school of public health. He opened a satellite campus in North County that paved the way for Cal State San Marcos.

SDSU president Thomas B. Day addresses the non-teaching staff in 1993.

He earned a doctorate in physics at Cornell University, and eventually moved into college administration.

He arrived at San Diego State as president in July 1978. Early on he pushed for more research money. Grants and research awards went from $10.8 million per year to more than $67 million during his tenure. His prowess there brought him appointments to the National Science Board, the policy-making arm of the National Science Foundation.

Father Joe Carroll, 80, July 10

His 40-year devotion to helping the homeless turned him into a San Diego icon.

Known fondly as the “Hustler Priest,” Carroll took what had been a small charity handing out peanut butter sandwiches downtown in the early 1980s and turned it into an assistance network for the poor that won awards and drew national media attention.

Now called Father Joe’s Villages, it provides housing, food, health care, education, vocational training and other services to thousands of people annually.

“This guy touched more lives, did more good for more people, than any San Diegan has ever done,” said David Malcolm, a businessman and philanthropist who served on the villages’ board for 31 years.

Carroll built the homeless organization and made himself a household name through a steady stream of public and private appearances that used humor to encourage fundraising. He starred in TV commercials that baldly told viewers, “I want to hustle you out of some money.”

Dave Severance, 102, Aug. 2

He was a retired U.S. Marine colonel whose troops famously planted an American flag on Iwo Jima.

There were actually two flag-raisings that February morning in 1945, the second of which was captured in one of warfare’s most iconic photographs. Severance spent years quietly trying to set the record straight about who did what back then, and why.

When the first flag was raised, Severance said, Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal, who had just arrived, asked to have it as a souvenir. “Hell, no,” said battalion commander Lt. Col. Chandler Johnson, according to Severance. “We put it up there, and we are going to keep it.”

A second group of Severance’s Marines was sent up with orders to replace the flag. The Marines would keep the first one, and the Navy secretary would get the replacement, which flew over Mount Suribachi for the rest of the battle. Both flags are now in the National Museum of the Marine Corps near Quantico, Va.

Stu Hedley, 99, Aug. 4

He was a Pearl Harbor survivor who spent decades stoking the flames of remembrance about that pivotal moment in American history.

He was a fixture at annual public events honoring military veterans and a frequent speaker at local schools and in front of service organizations.

AUGUST 14, 2016 - | Stu Hedley, 94, during the National Anthem during Balboa Park's Veterans Museum Spirit of '45 Day.

Clad in a Hawaiian shirt, white slacks and a medallion-bedecked garrison cap, Hedley made hundreds of appearances, in San Diego and elsewhere, sometimes going to multiple functions on the same day. By his count, he spoke to more than 200,000 people over the years.

More than 100 of his shipmates aboard the battleship West Virginia died at Pearl Harbor. Hedley, a 20-year-old seaman apprentice, narrowly escaped death several times.

He considered it an honor and a duty to represent those who fought in World War II, especially those who were killed.

Yolanda López, 79, Sept. 3

She created activist art, from her feminist interpretations of the Virgin of Guadalupe to a piece that featured the faces of seven wrongfully imprisoned Latino men behind the stripes of an American flag made to look like prison bars.

Yolanda López

López, who was born and grew up in Barrio Logan and earned her master’s degree in fine art from UC San Diego, lectured, produced videos and created installations throughout her career. But her muse remained the Virgin of Guadalupe. She reimagined Guadalupe as an Indigenous woman nursing her child, as the Aztec goddess Coatlicue, and as Boticelli’s Venus. Mexican critics fumed over her “Walking Lupe” — Guadalupe in open-toed heels, calves exposed under a shorter version of her traditional dress.

Her work became a mainstay of exhibitions and permanent collections. Prints of “Free Los Siete” and “Who’s the Illegal Alien, Pilgrim?” are with the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Bob Baker, 89, Sept. 5

He owned more than 25 car dealerships throughout the country during a career that spanned 60 years.

He grew up in Los Angeles during the Depression. When he was 10, his parents divorced and he spent the rest of his childhood in foster homes, boarding houses and on the streets. He enlisted in the Army in 1951 and saw combat in the Korean War. (In 2016, he donated $250,000 for a 30-foot-tall bell tower at Miramar National Cemetery in memory of his Korean War comrades.)

Bob Baker

After the war, he established and grew Bob Baker Chevrolet in Indianapolis. He eventually sold that dealership and moved to San Diego, purchasing what was then University Ford. He steadily expanded and built up the Bob Baker Auto Group of dealerships with brands such as Chevy, Toyota, Lexus, Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge, Ford, Acura, Cadillac, Nissan and Subaru. And he was behind the catchy advertising jingle, “The Bob Baker Auto Group, where it’s so nice to be nice.”

His financial success allowed him the ability to earmark millions of dollars over the years to assist Catholic churches and schools, programs for military veterans and underwriting for Solutions for Change, a nonprofit that helps get North County homeless families off the streets.

Robert Lynn, 82, Sept. 14

He was a civil rights attorney who founded key business and political organizations in support of San Diego’s LGBTQ communities.

Starting in the 1970s, he forged relationships with organizations representing minorities and women, helping establish the LGBTQ community as a political force in the city.

In 1975, Lynn served as founding president of the San Diego Democrats for Equality, an influential LGBTQ organization originally known as the San Diego Democratic Club. And in 1979, he launched the San Diego Equality Business Association, which was then called the Greater San Diego Business Association, to support LGBTQ businesses.

“If there is one person I would credit for the clout the LGBTQ community has today, it is Bob Lynn,” said Doug Case, a former president of the San Diego Democratic Club.

Richard Lerner, 83, Dec. 2

He was a masterful biochemist who guided La Jolla’s Scripps Research on its way to becoming an elite center for biomedical science, and he helped develop Humira to treat rheumatoid arthritis. It’s the highest selling therapeutic drug in the world.

Lerner nearly tripled the size of the Scripps institute during his 24 years as president.

He was a self-described “lab rat” whose career spanned more than 55 years. Lerner had considered becoming a neurosurgeon, but he changed his mind in 1965, accepting a position as a postdoctoral scientist at Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation, which later became Scripps Research.

He briefly left for a job in Philadelphia, then returned to Scripps in 1970, where he served on the faculty for the rest of his life.

DJ Sullivan, 86, Dec. 23

She started her professional acting career at the Old Globe in the 1960s, worked steadily in small roles in television, commercials and films in the 1970s and 1980s and appeared in all four of the San Diego-made “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” horror parody films.

But it was her work as an acting coach — first at San Diego Junior Theatre from 1968 to 1985, and later at her own Sullivan Players theater company in University Heights — that made her a beloved local figure. Three of her Junior Theatre students — Brian Stokes Mitchell, Christian Hoff and Casey Nicholaw — went on to win Tony Awards on Broadway. She enjoyed celebrating the successes, both large and small, of all her students.

Sullivan’s more than half-century impact on San Diego’s acting community led the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle to honor her in 2009 with its Craig Noel Lifetime Achievement Award.

Source link