Class Notes | Obituaries
Showing obituaries submitted anytime
Victor Novak, former director of SCU libraries, passed into eternity quietly in his sleep Friday morning, 12/9/11. Born in Slovenia in 1923, he was educated in Ljubljana and was awarded a doctoral degree in Political Science from the University of Graz, Austria in 1949. He came to the US the same year and settled in Cleveland, OH. In 1952 he married Cirila Cesnik, who succumbed to cancer in 1979. Victor earned a Master of Library Science degree from Case Western Reserve University in 1954 and worked in the library field there until he moved to California where he joined the Santa Clara University staff in 1957. He became Director of Libraries of SCU in 1969, retiring from that post in 1985. He enjoyed hiking and traveling back to his native land on numerous occasions. In the early 1980s he met Hille Sonin, Head of Acquisitions at the University of San Francisco. They married in 1991, and spent many years traveling extensively around the word. After a long illness, Victor succumbed to the ravages of dementia. He is survived by his wife of 20 years, Hille, and his sister Marija and other relatives in Slovenia. Cherished by loved ones and respected by all, Victor will be greatly missed and fondly remembered by many in the Bay Area and abroad. Special thanks are extended to the staff at the Nobis Care Homes for their gentle support in recent years. Memorial service will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, December 15, 2011, at St. Ignatius Church, University of San Francisco campus. McAVOY O'HARA Co 415-668-0077
Sam J. Alaimo '44, '47, 93, passed away peacefully in his home on April 26, 2015. He was blessed to have celebrated his birthday a week before with his eight children, their spouses, and many of his 17 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
He was born in San Jose to immigrant parents who arrived from Sicily in 1912 and was the fifth of six children. He attended St. Patrick's Elementary School, San Jose High School, and Santa Clara University on a hard-earned four-year college scholarship. His SCU Class of '44 was known as the "Fighting 40s," as most of them had to leave the University their junior year to either enlist or be drafted during WWII. He attended his 70th college reunion last October, when he was honored with this very special group of men.
Sam was trained as an officer after enlisting in the Army. He was a unit commander, field artillery, stationed in the Philippines and Japan. His basketball skills qualified him to both coach and become a key player on the military basketball team which won the Army Olympics in front of 18,000 fans, mostly troops.
Professor of Engineering Richard (Dick) Pefley
Longtime SCU Professor Richard “Dick” Pefley died on Oct. 6, 2009. He was 88 years old.
Professor Pefley joined the faculty of the School of Engineering in 1951 as chair of the mechanical engineering department and immediately became a favorite among students and colleagues. His keen interest in solar energy, artificial lung development, heat transfer, and gas dynamics of the Polaris missile led to numerous scholarly publications, but it was his exploration of alternative fuels in the early 1970s that made him a leading authority in the field, both in the United States and around the world.
Pefley was passionate about finding alternatives for reducing dependence on oil imports, and he was a proponent of alcohol-based fuel “not just because it is clean burning but because it can be produced by every country, even underdeveloped countries, since it can be developed from so many sources” such as sugar cane, natural gas, and coal, he said.
From 1969 to 1980, Pefley received millions of dollars in funding from the U.S. Post Office and the California Energy Commission for alcohol car test programs, converting fleets of vehicles to use alcohol fuels. In 1980 he founded the Methanol Research Center where he led and inspired a loyal following of “alcoholics” who were as committed to alternative fuels as he, even as funding dissipated in the wake of falling oil prices. In 1982, Pefley argued, “We are making a terrible mistake by directing so many dollars into destructive weaponry when they could be going into constructive weaponry—like energy.”
Over the years, Pefley was named ASME Fellow, testified before Congressional subcommittees, and was one of three recipients of the first SCU President’s Special Recognition Award, recognizing superior teaching, publication, and special service to the University and the community. Upon his retirement from SCU, one of his students, David Oliver ’61, wrote: He was a man of “brilliance and exciting energy. [He] blessed a generation of engineers in a time of both exhilarating and desperate technical advances. [He was] a technical man par excellance. But the technical did not detract or blind him to the wider issues of moral seriousness.”
Paul S. Russell ’78, who studied under Pefley at SCU and worked with him later at Pefley’s company, Alcohol Energy Systems, remembers his friend as “an outstanding academic, a visionary, a pioneering researcher, and a philosopher. He could engineer superbly, but in the end his greatest gift to future generations was not the courses he taught, the discoveries he made, or the systems he engineered, but his moral compass. Its cardinal points were knowledge, modesty, justice, and hard work. He was an example to all of us.”
Pefley is survived by two children, Barbara Morgan ’71 and Steven ’79. He was preceded in death by his wife, Nel.
Father Patrick Thompson ’56 joined his heavenly Father on October 20, 2012. Msgr. Patrick Thompson was a native Angeleno and had recently celebrated his 50th year as a priest. He was ordained in 1960 and had a long and fruitful career. He served as associate at a number of parishes, served in Newman ministry at various colleges, and had been on the faculty of St. John Seminary, in Camarillo, Calif. He has also served in the Senate of Priests, the South Coast Interfaith Council, and the Archdiocesan Commission on Evangelization. He was an avid and talented photographer and continued to travel frequently on photo excursions in his retirement. Since 1997, he had served as pastor of St. Margaret Mary, Lomita. He retired to Incarnation Parish in Glendale, Calif. Thompson was a recipient of the SCU Los Angeles Alumni Chapter "Santa Claran of the Year" award in 2003. He was brother of Jack Thompson '58 and uncle to Terri Thompson '80.
Owain Boughtwood '18, an English major, died on June 24 as a result of injuries sustained in an automobile accident in Nonington, England. Owain's home was Canterbury, England, and through parentage, he was a proud Welshman.
In a statement his family said: "Owain was 21 years old and a much-loved son and the youngest of six children. He was part of a large, loving family and the fun-loving uncle to nine nephews and nieces. Owain also found love in recent years as a devoted boyfriend to his girlfriend and sweetheart.
"Owain was a skilled footballer with an awesome left foot and change of pace. He loved music and was an accomplished musician, teaching himself to play guitar and drums.
"All those who had the good fortune to know Owain recognized how much of a sweet, loyal, and decent man he was. He will be greatly missed by all those that knew and loved him."
Joseph "Joe" P. Sugg passed away on July 25, 2016. He served as Assistant Vice President for University Operations from 1996 until January 5, 2015. Born on July 3, 1944, Joe was the beloved husband of Marianne Sugg. He will be interred at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO.
John J. George, May 31, 2013. A resident of Santa Clara, George was born in Niagara Falls, NY, in 1944, to Joseph and Grace George. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Niagara University in 1967. Later that summer, he married Melanie Wozniak and they moved to Omaha, NE where John received his Juris Doctor degree from Creighton University in 1970. A job offer as general counsel for Executive Fund Life Insurance Company brought John, Melanie and their young daughters to the Bay Area in 1971. John opened his private legal practice in 1973 and continued to work as a trial lawyer and mediator until his retirement in 2012. He also taught in the Stanford Law School Trial Advocacy program and in the Santa Clara University and West Valley College Paralegal programs. John was a dedicated community servant who supported public education. In 1992 he created the Santa Clara Schools Foundation and served on its board for 19 years. In 2002 he incorporated the Santa Clara Teacher Housing Foundation, one of the first of its kind in the nation. John is survived by Melanie, his wife of 45 years; daughters Leslie Kloes ’96 (Chris) of Santa Clara and Merrill Turner ’93 (Brian) of Santa Clara; grandchildren Caroline and Vincent Kloes; sister Rosemary (David) Gleason of Greensboro, NC and brother Joseph (Barbara) George of Niagara Falls, NY.
Rev. Gerald L. McKevitt, professor emeritus of history at Santa Clara University, died September 18, 2015, at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, in Los Gatos. He was 76 years of age.
Jerry was born in Longview, Washington, on July 3, 1939. His family relocated to Quincy (Plumas County) where he graduated from the local high school. He graduated from the University of San Francisco in 1961 with a history major and philosophy minor and began graduate studies in history at the University of Southern California, earning an MA. In 1963 he entered the Jesuit novitiate at Los Gatos to begin training for the priesthood. His studies took him to Gonzaga University, Spokane, and in 1967 he started doctoral studies in history at the University of California at Los Angeles, where he received his Ph.D. in 1972. Theological studies were taken in Rome, where he received his degree in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University.
Jerry was ordained a priest in San Francisco in June 1975 and began a lifetime association with Santa Clara University. As research professor and archivist, he was given the task of writing the history of the university. Based on his doctoral dissertation, his The University of Santa Clara, a History, 1851-1977, was published by Stanford University Press in 1979.
Through the years Jerry rose to the rank of full professor serving as department chair, University archivist, University historian, and rector of the Jesuit Community. In 2004 Jerry was named the Ignacio Ellacuria University Professor for Jesuit Studies at Santa Clara. In addition to teaching a variety of courses, he continued his research in Jesuit history in the U.S. and published numerous articles and book reviews in scholarly journals and contributed to scholarly reference works. His award winning book, Brokers of Culture: Italian Jesuits in the American West, 1848-1919, was published by Stanford University Press in 2007.
His other academic experiences included visiting professorships at Fordham University and Seattle University, memberships on the editorial board of Studies in Jesuit Spirituality, and board membership on the National Seminar on Jesuit Higher Education. He also served on the Board of Trustees of Santa Clara and Gonzaga Universities and was active in professional organizations. He curated an extensive collection of Jesuits in fiction, now part of the university’s special collections, and cultivated his hobby of watercolor painting.
After his retirement from the classroom, he continued his research and gave a number of lectures to a wide variety of audiences. At the time of his death he was working on a book length history of Jesuit higher education in the United States.
Contributions in Jerry’s memory may be made to the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education, Santa Clara University, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95053.
It is very sad and unusual to lose an active member of the faculty during the academic year, and so I acknowledge the passing of Jean Pedersen of our department of Mathematics and Computer Science. Jean arrived at Santa Clara in 1972 and made this her academic home. Jean was a popular professor and the author of 214 research papers, reviews and pedagogical works, 13 books, 3 translations, and 8 videos. She touched many lives, as I heard at her funeral from her departmental colleagues and from present students and alumni. As a member of our Santa Clara family, we remember her with deep appreciation.
It is with sadness that I announce the death of longtime math professor Jean Pedersen, who died on January 1 with her family by her side. Our hearts go out to Professor Pedersen's children, Jenni and Chris, for such a loss, and one so soon after their father's passing. Professor Pedersen was a true pillar of the University and of its math department. Known for her kindness in welcoming newcomers to the University and her collegiality among her fellow faculty, she had a great love for Santa Clara University and a passion for teaching math.
Professor Pedersen began her teaching career at Santa Clara in 1966 when she became the first woman to teach mathematics here. She later became the first woman to be granted tenure in the Mathematics Department. A published author, guest lecturer for numerous professional programs and associations, and generous member of the University community, she modeled the best of the teaching scholar. Santa Clara University has lost a leading light in Professor Pedersen, and while we mourn her loss, we remember the great gift of her life.
Jean J. Pedersen, a long-time professor of mathematics at Santa Clara, died on New Year’s Day 2016 in a Los Gatos hospital after a long series of medical problems. She was born into a family in Provo, Utah; her father was an ophthalmologist, her mother a teacher. She had a younger brother who became an architect in Seattle, and a son and daughter, Chris a Silicon Valley engineer and Jennifer, who teaches mathematics at Utah Valley University in Orem. She had six grandchildren.
Jean attended college at Brigham Young University where, given the culture of that time, she majored initially in home economics, only later discovering the beauty of mathematics. So thus motivated when she moved to the University of Utah at Salt Lake City for graduate study, she switched to mathematics. Ultimately she wrote a thesis on algebra under the direction of E. Allen Davis, a well-known mathematician at the University. There she had as a student in one of her classes, an engineering major, Kent Pedersen, whom she later married. Soon after their marriage and Kent’s accepting a position at IBM, they moved to San Jose where they remained. Kent died roughly one year before Jean’s death.
After starting a family, Jean joined the Santa Clara University mathematics faculty initially teaching only part-time. Proving herself to be such a spectacularly good teacher, she was transferred to being full-time and eventually to the rank of full professor by 1996. Under the guidance of the legendary mathematician and teacher, George Polya, at Stanford University and later a long series of collaborations with the internationally known British topologist, Peter J. Hilton, Jean performed mathematical research, writing and speaking on polyhedral geometry, combinatorics,and number theory. Hilton had held positions at Oxford, Cambridge, Case Western Reserve, and Cornell, and had been one of the mathematicians that cracked the enigma code at Bletchley Park, led by Alan Turing.
Pedersen’s list of publications runs to 214 research papers, reviews and pedagogical works, 13 books, 3 translations, and 8 videotapes. Others await publication. She was eventually to become an Erskine Fellow at the University of Christ Church in New Zealand, a repeated visitor at the University of Capetown in South Africa, and a repeated short-term visitor at the Forschungs Institut für Mathematikc at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule/Zurich.
A populist lecturer, Jean was often asked to speak at meetings from departmental colloquia to regional meetings to international congresses. These talks spread from the Bay Area to Australia, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, Kuala Lumpur, Delft, Haifa, and many other locations. These presentations often led to collaborators in mathematics (Glenn Appleby, Astrid Bonning, James H. Foster, Walter Gross, Michael Hendy, Bruce Love, Larry Somer, Jurgen Stigter, Tibor Tarnai, Byron Walden, Hans Walser, Tamsen Whitehead); in mathematics education (Franz O. Armbruster, Diane Mendence, E. Allen Davis, Derek Holton, George Polya, Peter Ross, Martin Gardner); general mathematics (Youseff Alavi, Ronald Graham) and algebra (Tibor Tarnai, Carlos Sequin).
Jean was a member of numerous MAA and Association of Women in Mathematics, was a one-time member of the Editorial Board of Mathematics Magazine, and was a pioneer director of a “Women and Mathematics” lecture series to attract women into mathematics majors. She was the advisor of our own chapter of AWM.
Jean always gave people the impression that being on the mathematics faculty, as teacher, advisor, and friend, was a profession that is just as good as it gets. And as members of the faculty in mathematics at Santa Clara, having Jean as a colleague, we feel that that’s just as good as it gets!
Professor William Yabroff, who co-founded the graduate counseling psychology department at SCU, died on Oct. 6, 2011. He was a beloved professor for over 25 years, teaching numerous courses, and specializing in the therapeutic use of imagery and symbol. He is survived by his daughter, Clare (Wendy) Yabroff '85. A memorial service is being held on November 19th at 4 p.m. at the Ananda Church, 2171 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306. For more information, please call 503-616-6628.
Andrew Joseph Locatelli, 82, a long time resident of San Jose passed away peacefully on April 16th. "Andy" was born in Santa Cruz, California to Italian immigrant parents Abraham Locatelli and Margherita Zanardi. He graduated from Boulder Creek High School in 1952. He went on to attend San Jose State University where he earned both Undergraduate and Masters Degree in Education and lettered in varsity basketball. He joined the military in the mid 50's where he worked special services and was stationed at the Pentagon in Washington D.C.
Fr. Joseph "Ripley" Caldwell, longtime Santa Clara Pastoral Minister, died on Thursday, May 27, 2010, in Regis Infirmary, Sacred Heard Jesuit Center, Los Gatos. He was a Jesuit for 68 years and a priest for 55. Ripley, as he liked to be called, taught English, philosophy, and psychology for fourteen years at Loyola University in Los Angeles, after which he served for fifteen years as a retreat director at the Jesuit Retreat Center of Los Altos. He later provided pastoral ministry at Santa Clara University and nearby St. Clare Parish, retiring to Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in 1994 where he spent his time reading, listening to classical music, writing poetry and taking care of his Boston Terrier, Little Rip. As we give thanks for the life of Fr. Ripley Caldwell a line from one of his poems seems appropriate: "Happiness is remembering that Someone once said: 'I have come that you may have life, and have it more abundantly.'" Fr. Caldwell is survived by his sister Mary Catherine Fillingim of San Antonio, Texas.
JOSEPH A. GRASSI Professor emeritus of Religious Studies, SCU Nov. 4, 1922 - Dec. 9, 2010. Our beloved Joseph passed away peacefully while his wife Carolyn was with him. He is deeply mourned by his family, including sons Peter Grassi '93, Eddie Grassi '92, daughter-in-law Alisa, grandchildren Madeline and Ethan, sister Emily Walsh, brother Peter Grassi, brothers-in-law John & Richard Cook, nieces, nephews and countless friends. Joseph was the son of the late Joseph & Marie DiNunzio Grassi and brother of the late Louise Griffing. Professor emeritus of Religious Studies at Santa Clara University, Scripture teacher of Maryknoll seminarians and SCU students, author of over 20 books, founder of Skip-A-Meal program for the hungry, member of Catholic Biblical Society etc, educated at Manhattan College, Maryknoll, the Pontifical Gregorian & Biblical Institutes in Rome, serving the poor in Guatemala for 3 years, teacher with his wife Carolyn in the SCU Osher program. A funeral Mass for Joseph Grassi will be on January 15 at 1:30 pm at the Mission Church, SCU campus. In lieu of flowers, donations are welcomed by Hospice of the Valley.
Albert Hopkins M.A. '87 of Los Altos passed away on January 5, 2016. He is survived by his three children. His daughter Merrell Schweitzer of Colorado, a son Alan of San Francisco, and son Donald of San Jose, a sister Merrell Hambleton of Maryland, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Mr. Hopkins was born in New York City to Albert Hopkins and Nettie Beall. He moved to Los Altos, California in 1951 with his wife Merilyn, who proceeded him in death in 1981. He later married Kay Tyler in 1996. He had graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts, where his grandfather Henry Hopkins and great grandfather Mark Hopkins had served as presidents of the college. Following graduation Mr. Hopkins served in the merchant marine, and later worked for a mining company in South America. He served in the Navy in the Pacific in World War II.
After coming to California he worked in the construction business before starting a career at Lockheed in Sunnyvale, California from which he retired in 1984. During this time he became a panelist for the American Arbitration Association and was active in community affairs. He served as vice president of the Stanford Area Boy Scout Council and president of the Los Altos Community Fund. He was one of the organizers of the Santa Clara county United Fund and became secretary of it's first board of directors.
His community activities also included service on two Los Altos school citizens committees and as president of Little league and Babe Ruth League baseball. He was a life member of the Los Altos PTA. In 1982 he became a hospice volunteer working with terminally ill patients and their families, and in 1984 became a part time member of the pastoral staff of the Los Altos United Methodist Church. In connection with his work he received a graduated degree in counseling from Santa Clara University. Recently, Mr. Hopkins was in full retirement but continued as an active member of his church.
Joseph Doetsch Jr. '31, former longtime Walla Walla resident, passed away July 11, 2009, in Issaquah, Wash. He was 101 years old.
Lester O'Meara '33 on January 16, 2010. Les graduated from Santa Clara University and proudly served in the U.S. Navy as a commissioned officer during WWII. After the war, he became a principal in the mechanical engineering firm of O'Meara-Sanford-Alessi Inc. He was president and national committeeman in the Consulting Engineering Council, past chairman of the Architects and Engineering Conference Committee, served as a director for the Sacramento Builders Exchance, chairman of the County Board of Appeals for the building department, and was also a member of the Sacramento City-County Chamber of Commerce. O'Meara was a generous contributor to civic, welfare, religious, and young organizations and education institutions. Les and his wife "Sue" were members of the Del Paso Country Club for many years where they enjoyed playing golf and socializing with their friends. It's nice to imagine Les back on a big beautiful golf course in Heaven trying for that next hole-in-one, a smile on his face, no pain, no worry. Les is survived by his loving wife of 68 years, Muriel (also known as "Sue"); his nephew John (Polly) O'Meara of Newport Beach; his sister Vivian Felton of San Rafael; nieces Claudia (Howard) Jones of Clovis, Calif., Majorie (Bob) Price of Jettersville, Calif., Janet (Lawrence) Fogel of Scotts Valley, CA and Susan (Byron) Levey of Watsonville, Calif., and several grand and great nieces and nephews. He will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him.
John MacDonald '34 passed away on March 8, 2010 at the age of 97. Beloved husband, uncle, teacher, and friend, John taught engineering at San Jose State University and designed part of the engineering center. An avid golfer, he was a founding organizer of La Rinconada Golf Club. He served as a Navy lieutenant, an engineering officer, during WWII. John was stationed in Honolulu & Mare Island, Vallejo, where he helped Admiral Rickover, father of the nuclear navy.
Francis Sparolini '34 son of a pioneer Monterey family, passed away peacefully on May 15, 2009 at his home in Carmel with his family at his side. He was 97. He was a highly respected member of the community where he was born, grew up and owned and operated Sparolini Distributing Company. Francis' father, John A. Sparolini, first came to Monterey in 1884 from Lugano, Switzerland. His mother, the former Frances Lander, came to Monterey from Germany in 1893. The Sparolinis were married in 1899. After graduating from San Carlos parochial school and Monterey High School, he was graduated from Santa Clara University in 1934. He served as Captain, Transportation Corps, in the Army of the United States and was honorably discharged in 1953. Francis married Aili Orava in 1943 and they enjoyed a very happy and wonderful marriage until her death in 1974. Francis and Aili were blessed with three beautiful children, Susan, James and Catherine. In 1976, Francis married Laverne Kahl Storm and they shared many memorable years together until her death in 2007. Perhaps the most signal honor to come his way occurred in 1964 when he was elected a Director of First National Bank of Monterey, the oldest bank in Monterey County. It was a position his father held shortly after the bank's organization. Francis was extremely active in community affairs and his true passion was his family, the Catholic Church, his friends and golf. Francis loved the game of golf and first learned as a young lad caddying at Pebble Beach and Old Del Monte Golf Club. In 1940, he became a member of Monterey Peninsula Country Club. He later was elected to the Board of MPCC and served as President in 1969. He played golf regularly throughout his long membership. He was a member of the Wednesday Odd Lotters group, a high-spirited group whose afternoon golf was foreshadowed by the boisterous 19th hole aftermath where winners gloat over their competitors and all joyfully relive recent history on the links. Francis is predeceased by his son, James and is survived by his daughters, Susan LaVarnway (Charles) and Catherine Sparolini; his daughter-in-law, Kathryn; grandchildren, Sonia and Stephen Sparolini and stepson, Chris Storm; and many nieces and nephews. So whether you knew him as Francis, Fran, Frank, F.J., Frannie, Sparo, Sperry, Mr. Sparolini, Uncle, Grandpa, or Dad, he has left a deep, lasting impression on each person fortunate to have him in their life.
William D. Bottini '35 on Feb. 13, 2009. The native of Pleasanton attended SCU on a basketball scholarship and graduated with a degree in civil engineering. He worked for the Western Pacific Railroad as a right-of-way engineer in Nevada, and in 1942 enlisted in the Seabees of the United States Navy and was decorated with the Bronze Star for his service as an engineer constructing landing strips on islands of the South Pacific during World War II. After the war he came to Colorado Springs as superintendent of construction for several projects at the Air Force Academy, including building a chapel, the football stadium, and the cadet area. Working for B.H. Baker Construction Company, he was responsible for the company's building projects in Colorado Springs and other areas of Colorado and Wyoming. Upon retirement, he volunteered for the Catholic Diocese of Colorado Springs as a supervisor of building projects throughout the area. In addition, he worked in a local soup kitchen and helped out at local schools by reading to children. He is survived by two sons; eight grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.
Jeremiah G. Hickey II '35 on January 30, 2009, age 96, in Pheonix, Ariz. He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Mary Catherine; his children, J. Griffin, Christopher, Clare, Marguerite, and Louise, and grandchildren. He was a U.S. Navy veteran and worked for Hickey Freeman for 33 years. He was devoted to his family and his church, loved photography and poetry. He was a member of the Lay Order of Carmelites.
Edward Van Tobel Jr. '35 died Dec. 29, 2009. The Las Vegas busiess pioneer was 96 years old. He is credited with helping to build the company into the world's first indoor lumber and home improvement center in the 1950s. He had spent much of his youth working with his father, company founder Ed Von Tobel Sr., and brothers Jacob and George Von Tobel at the family lumberyard in town. After graduating from Las Vegas High School and Santa Clara University, Von Tobel Jr. rejoined Von Tobel Lumber. He handled the accounting and bookkeeping and oversaw the hardware and lumber store's expansion into multiple locations. Ed Von Tobel Sr. came to Las Vegas in 1905 and started Von Tobel Lumber shortly after. That was decades before Nevada would legalize gambling, but Von Tobel Sr. made his own gamble, surviving many lean early years in business. The father patriarch died in 1967. His son Edward Jr. was the last surviving sibling among the father's four children. Von Tobel Jr. left the family business for a brief time in the 1940s after being drafted into the Army. Upon his return to Las Vegas, he helped to make Von Tobel Lumber a worldwide model of lumberyards and home improvement centers. "People would come from Australia and all over the world to look at his indoor lumber yard. It was cool as a kid because they would bring gifts," recalled niece Julie Roach, who is the daughter of George Von Tobel. "Before there was a Home Depot or a Lowe's, there was a Von Tobel Lumber," she said. The largest Von Tobel Lumber was at Maryland Parkway and Karen Avenue. In the 1980s, the family sold the lumber business to a national chain, which later went out of business. But Ed Von Tobel Jr. stayed active for the rest of his life by helping in the bookkeeping on his family's real estate holdings, Roach said. "He worked right up until about a month before he passed away. He always was a hard worker and stayed late," she added. Von Tobel Jr. also kept busy helping out reporters and historians with his knowledge of the state and Las Vegas. "There wasn't a person, writer, or filmmaker doing something on Nevada who didn't come to Uncle Ed to interview him," Roach said. In one local history book, The First 100: Portraits of the Men and Women Who Shaped Las Vegas, Von Tobel Jr. discussed his pioneering father and his childhood growing up in Las Vegas with co-author A.D. Hopkins. "Every Sunday afternoon, his brother Jake would go down to the red light district on Block 16 to buy a bucket of beer to bring back for the family," said Hopkins. "He said you had to buy it at a brothel because it was the closest place, and they'd sell you a bucket of beer even if you were 12." Hopkins said Von Tobel Jr. was "invaluable to historians." Ed Von Tobel Jr. is survived by his wife of 70 years, Evelyne; daughters Sharon Schmitt, Katherine Acord, Susan Von Tobel and Gretchen McQuade; eight grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.
Robert P. Litschi '36 died Nov. 15, 2009. Bob passed away as graciously as he lived, surrounded by his loving family. Growing up in L.A., he shared a passion with his dad Louis—playing baseball, first at Loyola High and then Santa Clara University. Louis played for the Vernon Tigers (Pacific Coast League) and young Bob remembers Brashear, Hosp, and other baseball players frequenting his house. Bob took up golf in college and virtually never stopped playing—up to age 94. After college and serving in WWII in New Caledonia, he worked and retired from Keliher Hardware. He enriched our lives with his keen sense of humor, his kindness, generous nature and his dedication to his faith. He is survived by his children, Linda (Joe) Sallinger, Laura Jones, Janet (Sam) Rizzo, Bob (Sandy) Litschi, and Jim Litschi, as well as eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren and predeceased by his wife Marjorie.