Author Archive

Gone But Not Forgotten

James Connacher

James Trafford Connacher, a long time resident of Corona, CA, passed away at Kindred Hospital, Rancho Cucamonga, CA after a lengthy illness. James was born in Indiana, PA to Lisle and Mary Connacher, and grew up in Clymer, PA. He was their only son; he had three sisters. During his senior high school year, James met the love of his life, Sondra Sunday, while she was working as a cashier at a grocery store. James often joked that Sondra’s father begged him to marry her, or she would “throw herself from the town bridge in grief”. They were married shortly after he joined the Marines. James joined the United States Marine Corps shortly after graduating high school in what would become his first career. James was a patriot who spent 20 years in the Marines. He found himself in aviation as a helicopter mechanic, which led him to being a crew chief on various helicopters. He served four tours in Vietnam, being shot down on one occasion. But luckily after evading the enemy for one night, he was rescued the following day. During the course of his service he traveled the world, and was stationed in many countries, and for a while was assigned to the USS Boxer as a Fleet Marine with his aviation unit. While in the Marines James was recognized for his exceptional service and devotion to duty, and was selected as one of the first recipients of the Marine Corps Air Crewman Award (now an annual award recognizing exceptional Marine Corps Air Crewmen). James participated in numerous rescue operations (both military and civilian), and he received several life-saving awards, which were personally presented to him by Igor Sikorsky (the developer of the Sikorsky Helicopter). One of James’ proudest moments was when General Krulak pinned his Combat Air Crew “Wings” on him after the siege at Khe Sanh. James’ last duty station was Marine Corps Air Station Tustin (known as LTA for the Lighter Than Air ships that were once stationed there). While flying over Southern California, he noticed the then small town of Corona, CA, and thought it would be a nice place for his family to settle down at the end of his final enlistment. He retired in 1978 as a Second Lieutenant having risen through the ranks from Private. After retiring from the Marines, James began his second career working for Alcoa Aluminum at the Corona Foundry. He started on the Foundry floor, and ultimately worked his way up to the position of Foundry supervisor, where he was responsible for supervising the molding casts for various military projects including the cruise missile. After retiring from Alcoa, James, who was a licensed pilot, returned to his love of aviation keeping his hand in by working as an air frame and power mechanic for several local flight schools. He often said he did this so he could continue to fly on the cheap. James was a long time member of the American Legion Post #0742, Corona CA. His hobbies included shooting and reloading his own ammunition (he was a lifetime member of the NRA), wood working and wood carving (he was a member of the Norco Chip Chuckers), fishing, and traveling with Sondra in their travel trailer. James had an appetite for knowledge, and loved to learn “what made things tick”. For example, when he got into the sport of shooting, he wanted to know how firearms worked, so he took a gunsmith course, which led to his building several of his own firearms. He took up SCUBA diving. Not content to just learn to dive, he fashioned his own air tanks, built his own air regulator, melted and molded his own lead weight belt, and constructed his own wetsuit. James is survived by his wife of 59 years, Sondra; his son Timothy (Pam); his daughter Tammi Meeks (Bruce); grandchildren Nikole Sanchez (Daniel), Rebecca Meeks (Jake), Christina Sesepasara (Lepe), Patrick Meeks all of Riverside, CA, and Stephanie Rust (Joseph) of Omaha, NE; and eight great grandchildren. Of all the titles James held, the ones that meant most to him were “Papa” to his grandchildren and “G-Paw” to his great grandchildren. James was loved by his family, and will be truly missed.

Gregorio Rodriguez

It is with a heavy heart that we share the passing of Gregorio S. Rodriguez, on June 15, 2020 at the age of 86. Gregorio (Goyo) passed away peacefully, with his wife and family by his side at his home in Colton, California. Goyo was born in Colton to Francis and Gregorio Rodriguez. He graduated from Colton High School, played and lettered in varsity baseball. Following high school, he enlisted in the Army and was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina – 82nd Airborne Division. Goyo recorded 19 jumps as a United States Paratrooper. After being honorably discharged from the Army he married the love of his life, Annie; and together raised five children. Goyo and Annie loved to travel, visiting six of the seven continents, casinos, and enjoyed dancing. In his spare time Goyo was on several bowling leagues, and on 5 different occasions he bowled a perfect score of 300. Goyo will be remembered as a Paratrooper, LA Dodgers and a true Rams fan. He had an amazing 86 years with over 60 years as a husband, dad, grandpa then a great grandpa. He was preceded in death by his father, mother, sisters, Rafaela, Senovia, Virginia, brothers Max and Arthur Rodriguez. He is survived by his wife, Annie, and children: Naomi Rodriguez, Gregg Rodriguez (Bonnie), Rhonda Florick (Greg), Bonnie Cruz (Arthur) and Gary Rodriguez (Darlene). Goyo’s memory also lives on in his fourteen grandchildren: Regina, Christine, Marissa, Arthur, Gary, Valerie, David, Catherine, Gregory, Victor, Aimee, Michael, Andy and Jeffrey; and his great-grandchildren: Madelynn, Malayna, Olivia, Molly and Lucas. He is also survived by his sisters, Rosa Moreno, Estella Gonzales and Mary Barrios.

James Stembridge

My name was James F Stembridge. I was a first-generation Californian having been born in San Bernardino on 11/11/1920; as luck would have it, I missed my 100th birthday by only 5 months. But between my dates of birth and death, I lived a pretty good life, and I was in fairly good health up until 2/2014 when dementia started to take its toll on me. Before that, I had lived independently in Kernville, Ca. I had moved there from San Bernardino in late 1989 with my beloved wife, Goldie, to whom I was married for 70 years. She had passed away at age 88 in 4/2011. We had known each other since she was 14–I was 16. I lived there by myself up until 2/2014 when I had to go into a facility. I later transferred to the Katherine Convalescent Hospital in Salinas, Ca in 6/2014 and then I went on to Brookdale Senior Living also in Salinas, Ca where I passed from this existence into the next on 6/19/2020. I will be returning home to San Bernardino, and I will be laid to rest next to my darling Goldie at Montecito Memorial Park, 3520 E Washington St in Colton on 6/29/2020. But first, there will be a viewing service at the Colton Funeral Home, 1275 N La Cadena Dr, Colton at 10:30 11:30 AM that same day. There will then be a graveside service at Montecito at 12:00 Noon. I loved to fly, and I had a pilot’s license before I had a driver’s license. When WWII started, I enlisted into the Army Air Corps as a technician replacement. I serviced all the mechanical parts of the B-29 Flying Fortress. I was stationed in India and later on the Island of Tinian; I was there when the Enola Gay delivered the atomic bombs to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I was eventually promoted to tech sarge. I was discharged at war’s end in late 1945. Goldie and I had two sons: Charles whose wife’s name is Rose; and James whose wife’s name is Joan. I currently have four grandchildren: Tara, Justin, Maren, and Philip. I have 18 great-grandchildren. It’s not every day that a person gets to see his children’s children’s children! After the war, I worked with my brothers in what was then considered a grocery supermarket. My brother Austin and I later built Stembridge Hardware in 1953. The building and shopping center we built still stands at 160 E Highland Ave in San Bernardino. We sold the hardware store in 1966. I loved to build. I built cabins in Crestline and Running Springs. I built and flew my own airplane. I built and restored several boats. I built several muzzle loading rifles. I made two telescopes in the 50’s. I restored and modernized an old two-story house in Highland where I owned a 5-acre orange grove. My hands were never slack, and I wish the same for all of you. Good bye; it was a wonderful journey.

Raymond Johnson

Raymond (Ray) Johnson 1926 – 2020 Age 93, of Hemet, CA, passed away peacefully of natural causes on June 5, 2020. Born July 9, 1926 in Pomona, CA, Ray grew up on the family farm in Chino, CA with his 2 sisters and 3 brothers. After graduating from Chino High School Ray served in the U.S. Army from 1944-1946 and was stationed in the Philippines and Japan. After the service he took a job at Southern California Gas Company. There he met his lifetime sweetheart, Dorothy (Dotty). They were married in 1954 and together they were blessed with 4 children. Ray received a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from Cal Poly Pomona in 1957. Ray and Dotty moved to Hemet in 1978 and Ray retired from SoCal Gas in 1991. Ray and Dotty together collected, refurbished and sold antiques and collectibles. Ray spent many fun hours scouring estate sales and swap meets for treasures to restore and collect. He loved working on his 5 acre estate, where he spent many hours on his tractor and tending his orchard and he developed a portion of the property into a multi-use sport area complete with baseball, basketball, and driving range options. His favorite project was constructing a small scale version of a western town, complete with a large barn, hotel/saloon, gas station, city hall/jail and chapel. Ray outfitted these structures with authentic and homemade features, trimmings and furnishings he had collected. He named this town “Dottywood” after his loving wife Dotty. Ray and Dotty hosted many lively and memorable family gatherings, parties, and events at their home. Often these gatherings would include sporting games, bicycle races, hay rides, and of course, lots of food and laughter. Ray taught countless people how to water ski and the family enjoyed many vacations to Millerton and Shasta lakes. In addition to many other things, Ray loved cinnamon rolls, Milky Ways, and Mc Donald’s. Ray was preceded in death by his wife, Dotty Johnson, grandson Michael Raymond Harrison, and all 5 of his siblings: Marian Wagner, Ruth Johnson, Karl Johnson, Kenneth Johnson, and Ray’s twin brother, Robert Johnson. He is survived by his children, Craig (Lynn) Johnson, Mona (Dave) Anderson, Claire Harrison (Gerry Shoaf), Ross Johnson; as well as grandchildren Brandon, Bryant, Sean, Kaela, Devin, Isabel, Nate, Matt, Meredy; and his great-grandchildren, Andrew, Bry, Maleah, Haven, Clementine and Kai. The family is extremely grateful for the kindness and care provided by Buena Vista Assisted Living for our Dad while he was living at their facility. The BVAL caregivers and support staff gave exceptional attention and loving care to him during his final years. Our Dad loved and appreciated you.

Paul Granstrom

Msgt. Paul Granstrom was born on July 12, 1936 in Flint, Michigan. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Donna Granstrom, and his three children, Paul Granstrom Jr., Deborah Perez and Carol Jones, 5 grandchildren, and 9 great grandchildren. He graduated from Flint Technical High School in 1954, and joined the United States Air Force. In the Air Force, he earned several medals including the Silver Star for his tours in Vietnam, and retired from March Air Base in 1974 as a 1st Sergeant. He owned Sugden Electric in Riverside, began working in home product sales and service. He was active in the Masons and served as Worshipful Master for the Temescal Palms Lodge #314, and then he moved to Las Vegas, Nevada. While in Nevada, he served the Presbyterian Church as a national representative, and became active in Shriners. Additionally, he serviced as potentate of the Las Vegas chapter, and as a member of the board for Shriner’s Hospital in Los Angeles. Four years ago he moved back to California, and Paul passed away quietly at home while residing in Sun City, California on Tuesday, June 9, 2020.

James Anderson

On Thursday, June 11, 2020, Jim (Pat) Anderson, loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather passed away at the age of 71. Jim was born September 4, 1948 in Dallas, Texas to Clyde and Doris Anne Anderson. Jim grew up in Glendora, Ca with his three bothers and one sister. In 1968, he enlisted into the Army and trained at Fort Ord, Ca. Jim was stationed at Camp Zama near the Japanese City of Sagamihara during the Vietnam war. Jim worked as a medic and took x-rays on the injured soldiers from the war. During this time, he also married his first wife, Barbara Wood. Upon returning to the States, Jim received his license in the Radiology sciences and obtained a job at San Antonio Community Hospital in Upland, Ca. Jim and Barbara had two daughters, Julie and Catherine which they raised in Alta Loma, Ca. In 1975 Jim received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Cal Poly Pomona. Throughout his years at SACH, Jim moved from Radiology and become the Marketing Director of the hospital. Jim recruited many of today’s physicians to the staff of SACH and was implemental in setting up their practices. George Kuykendall, retired CEO of SACH stated “All that Jim accomplished was rooted in his character. He was an effective representative of the hospital to all the community and employees and physicians. Jim never had an unkind word for anyone and was universally respected and loved.”Not only was Jim involved with making SACH the best hospital possible in our area, he worked hard to improve the City of Upland. He was involved with businesses in Upland and served on the Upland Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors for 19 years. In 1995, Jim became a Reserve officer for the Upland police department earning the rank of Lieutenant. He was with the department for 19 years and was highly active working both patrol and special assignments. Whenever he worked the downtown festivals, he was unable to walk more than a few feet without someone stopping him to say hello. Jim enjoyed hunting and traveling to Idaho with friends, he was given the nickname “Hawkeye” because of his hunting skills. He was also an avid golfer and long-time member of Red Hill Country Club and served as their membership director. He knew all the members names and always acknowledged them. Jim is survived by his wife, Debbie; daughters, Julie Anderson Canizales (Alex), Catherine Severson (Greg); brother Mike Anderson (Sheri); sister, Peggy Burke; stepchildre, Erin Jensen (Ryan) Megan Pattison, and Mike Pattison. Jim also leaves behind nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild. His family and friends will never forget Jim, he was loving, kind and generous. “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened” (Dr. Seuss)

Bill Chartraw

Bill Chartraw 76 passed of Alzheimers disease on Thursday 6/11/2020 at Pacifica Senior Living in Chino Hills CA. Son of Florence & Lindy he was born in Barron Country WI and raised from age 8 in St. Paul Park MN. Serving in the USMC for 4yrs he was awarded The Purple Heart for injuries sustained in Viet Nam. He married Gloria V. Salmon in 1968 in Las Vegas NV and made their home in Upland CA raising two sons. He was employed by Ameron / Tamco Steel for approx. 36yrs and a member of the USW Union. Bill lived briefly in Oregon with his wife until her passing and spent the majority of his late working career as a on site Park Ranger for Rancho Jurupa Park in Rubidoux CA. Loved and enjoyed by his family and friends Bill enjoyed, hunting, fishing, BBQ’s, RV’ing, yard work and was always the first to help out with a Budweiser beer in hand. He is survived by his son Dean Chartraw of Chino CA, David Chartraw of Bismarck ND, 4 grandchildren Nick and Nicole of CA, William, Jordan, Makena and Mayce of ND along with a lot of family and friends throughout the state and country. 

Lowell Dabbs

Lowell Parker Dabbs, a former English professor at Bakersfield College, died in Riverside, California this past Memorial Day, May 25, 2020. He was 95 years old. Lowell was a creative man with a poet’s heart and a commitment to “passing it along,” by which he meant helping others. He was born in Burlington, North Carolina in 1924 and as a boy earned the rank of Eagle Scout. In 1943, he joined the U.S. Navy V-12 College Training program, attending Arkansas A&M College and then Tulane University, in New Orleans. Ensign Dabbs was in the Pacific awaiting what he expected would be his role in the planned invasion of the Japanese mainland when the war ended. He was stationed in Japan until returning to the U.S. in late 1945. Lowell completed his bachelor’s degree and earned his master’s degree at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles in 1955. He then moved to Bakersfield to begin his career at Bakersfield College. Lowell taught English and literature, served as English Department chair, and was faculty editor for the magazine Campus Arts. He co-authored Modern English Practice and Improving College English Skills. He also wrote plays, poems, and professional articles. Lowell met his former wife, Phyllis Selby, at the college in 1955. She was a professor of speech and went on to serve as an administrator. They married in 1956 and welcomed a daughter in 1957. Since childhood, Lowell had resolved to design and build his own home. In the early 1960s, he followed through on that dream, building a home with his wife. The home was among those included in a September 2019 symposium and tour of notable mid-century modern structures in Bakersfield. Lowell and Phyllis enjoyed many years together in Bakersfield; they divorced in 1979. After retiring from BC in 1979, Lowell moved to Santa Barbara and tutored students in writing at Santa Barbara City College. He pursued a lifelong interest in photography and volunteered at the Braille Institute and other organizations. He enjoyed many friendships on the coast and was active in the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara. Several of his plays and poems were produced or read locally. Lowell moved to an assisted living center in Riverside in 2014 to be near his daughter, Ellen Parker, and son-in-law, David Boyles. A reading of one of his short plays was performed by residents at the center, and he made many friends among the residents and staff. Lowell died at a Riverside hospital after contracting COVID-19 in mid-May while receiving care at a nursing home. There are no plans for a celebration of life at this time. For anyone who would like to do something in his honor, please “pass it along.”

William Puls

A Natchitoches resident since 2015, William “Bill” Marshall Puls passed away after a brief illness on April 15, 2020, at the Natchitoches Regional Medical Center. A native of Fort Worth, Texas, he attended Texas Christian University and the University of Texas. He served as a Seaman in the U. S. Navy from October 26, 1957 until March 28, 1962, spending the bulk of his time on a ship overseas. While in the Navy, he earned the Good Conduct Medal. His name was added to the Indian Wells Eisenhower Walk of Honor in California on November 11, 2014.

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