Miscellaneous Ventura County, California Obituaries


The Ventura County Free Press
Wednesday, September 21, 1977
Memorial services for Benjamin F. Gurnett, 81, of 328 N. Arnaz St., Meiners Oaks, will be Thursday at 2 p.m. in St. Andrews' Episcopal Church, Ojai.
Mr. Gurnett died Monday in a hospital after a brief illness.
He was born Jan. 15, 1896, In Chicago.  He came to Ventura County in 1968.  He was a member of St. Andrews Episcopal Church and served in the Army during World Wars I and II.
Survivors include his son, George B., Covina, and daughter Margaret E. Neider, Tucson, Ariz.

Harry A. Lyon, business, civic leader, dies at 71. Harry Austin Lyon, for more than a quarter of a century one of Ventura County's most prominent and highly regarded business and civic leaders died Sunday of cancer.
He had long led the local campaign to suppress the disease.
Mr. Lyon, 71 Ventura, was pronounced dead at 8:47 p. m. at Community Memorial Hospital, Ventura, where he had been in intensive care unit patient since April 11.
His wife, Dorothy, son H. Edwin Lyon and other members of his family were with him when he died. He had been critically ill for weeks and took a turn for the worse on Friday.
Funeral services will be directed by the Joseph P. Reardon Funeral Chapel, Ventura, and will include mass at Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church, Ventura, where Mr. Lyon was an active member of the congregation.
He died of a combination of a virulent form of lymph node cancer and leukemia which developed suddenly and was diagnosed by his physicians only in mid-March.
A part of Ventura County's oil industry since he took a job as a roustabout in the Ventura Avenue oil fields in 1936, Mr. Lyon retired in January as chairman of the board of USA-Petrochem Corp., which produces a variety of petroleum products, including diesel oil, bunker fuel and gasoline at its Ventura Avenue-area refinery. He helped found the company 12 years ago and also was a co-founder of Allied Construction Co. of Ventura, an oil field constuction and maintenance firm.
But it was for his work on behalf of charities, youth groups, organizations involved in medical research and community service groups that Mr. Lyon was best known.
Often that work brought Mr. Lyon leadership positions in some of Ventura County's most prominent civic and charitable agencies. But many who knew him said Mr. Lyon also would frequently take small community-oriented projects that few people ever knew about.
"Harry was one of the finest human beings who ever put his feet in shoe leather, as a matter of fact. I don't think this community will ever really know how much he's done for it" said Superior Court Judge William L. Peck of Ventura, who once served as his attorney and was his close personal friend for more than 20 years.
"I remember back when he was running Allied Construction. Harry would make crews and trucks and back hoes and all sorts of things available for all sorts of different groups of people on a no-charge basis. No one knows how much he's done."
Ventura Youth Employment Service Executive Director Joyce Waldron who nominated Mr. Lyon for the Ventura Citizen of the Year Award he won in 1979, called him "quite possibly Ventura County's most generous citizen" and Alan Teague of Santa Paula, president this year of the United Way of Ventura County, said he always thought of him "as Harry the good guy. He always helped people."
Though he was born in Hartford, Ky., Nov. 24, 1912, Mr. Lyon considered himself a Ventura County native. It had been his home since he was 2 and he moved with his parents to the Ojai Valley. His adult life perennially focused on Ventura County, its civic projects and charitable activies.
Besides being named Ventura Citizen of the Year by the Ventura Jaycees in 1979. Mr. Lyon had received awards from the Girl Scouts of America, the Amercian Cancer Society and the Ventura County chapter of the Arthritis Foundation in recent years. On Oct. 8 last year he was named grand marshal of the Ventura County Fair Parade and when he was feted at a retirement dinner in January the crowd that wanted to get in was so large that nearly 100 had to be turned away because the Oxnard Hilton Inn cound not accommodate them.
Many who knew him said it was virtually axiomatic that if Harry Lyon joined an organization he would one day wind up as its president. He was past president of the Greater Ventura Chamber of Commerce, the Ventura County chapter of the American Cancer Society, the Avenue Lions Club and the Ventura Youth Employment Service. He helped found the latter organization and served as its president twice.
Back in the mid-1970's, Mr. Lyon spearheaded the campaign that raised more than $1 million to build the Tres Condados Girl Scout Council's Program Center on a 37-acre site at Rancho Arnaz near Ojai. A strained glass window bearing the likeness of a lion near the main entrance to the big training facility is a permanent tribute to Mr. Lyon's leadership in the fund-raising drive.
Mr. Lyon held a variety of offices in the Lions Club, including that of district governor for the Tri-Counties area. Until his recent illness he was president of the Southern California Lions Eye Insitute at St. John's Medical Center in Santa Monica, a facility which provides comprehensive eye care, including surgery for the needy.
Mr. Lyon had especially active for the past six years in United Way of Ventura County, which last year raised about $3.7 million to be divided among more than 50 charitable organizations. Earlier this year he was chairman of United Way's special projects committe, which is looking into the establishment of a permanent center for volunteerism near the United Way's Camarillo headquarters. For the past two years he was United Way's allocations vice president, in charge of the group which conducts detailed studies of each agency requesting United Way funding and finally decides what the total budget will be.
"He was and outstanding man," said Leo Pedlow of Thousand Oaks, last years United Way president and chairman of its board of trustees this year. "Harry has always cheerfully and willingly done and excellent manner any particular task he was asked to do for United Way"
Judge Peck described Lyon as a "kind, generous and trusing man" and Ron Franz of Camarillo, who served with Lyon on the board of directors of the Ventura County chapter of the Amercican Cancer Society said he was " a true giving person who was especially generous with his time."
Mr. Lyon's oil industry career began early 50 years ago in 1936 when a took a job as a roustabout with what is today the Getty Oil Co. He retired only last January to spend more time with his wife, Dorothy, who had been in ill health since undergoing kidney surgery last year.
He worked in the Los Angeles Harbour shipyards for a time durning World War 11 and then went to work for Shell Chemical Co.
He returned to Ventura to a management position with an oil field maintenance firm shortly after the war and in 1955 he helped organize Allied Construction Co., also an oil field contruction and maintenance firm. He eventually bought that company, and although his family still owns it, Mr. Lyon was not active in it in recent years.
With his son Ed, now 44, Lyon founded California Oil Purification Co. in 1972. That firm was merged into what is now USA Petrochem Corp. four years later.
Besides his wife and son, Mr. Lyon is survived by brother, Herbert of Ventura, sisters Rosina Carr and Peggy Smeltz of Ventura; and grandchildren Dan, Katie, Ron, Venessa and Jimmy Lyon, all of Ventura.
Source Ventura Star Free Press-copy of the orginal in my files.

Rosary tonight for Harry Lyon -rosary for longtime Ventura business and civic leader Harry Austin Lyon will be at 7 tonight at Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church, Ventura. Mass will be at 10 a.m. Thursday, with Monsignor Donal Mulcahy officating. Burial will follow at Ivy Lawn Memorial Park, Ventura.
Mr. Lyon, 71 was the retired chairman of the board of Ventura-based USA Petrochem Corp. He died Sunday of cancer.   Besides being part of the Ventura County oil industry for nearly half a century, Mr. Lyon was a founder and leader of some of the county's most prominent civic and charitable organizations. He had held key leadership positions in the Ventura County chapter of the American Cancer Society, the Ventura County YMCA, Ventura Youth Employment Services, the Avenue Lions Club and the United Way of Ventura County.
Friends may call at the Joseph P. Reardon Funeral Chapel, Ventura until 6 today.
Source-Ventura Star Free Press

Funeral services for Mrs. Vena H. Lyon, who passed away Sunday at Big Sisters hospital were held this afternoon at 2 o'clock at the E. C. O. Clubhouse. Mrs. Caroline Warren of the Four-Square Gospel church officated, with speical music by Mrs. Hatcher. Burial was in charge of Barker & McCormick morticians.
Deceased is survived by her husband, D. E. Lyon and four children. Prior to coming to Ventura two years ago, the family resided in Ojai.
Note: Zena died April 26, 1925. She was buried April 30, 1925. Her husband was Daniel Edwin Lyon, children Rosina, Harry. Herbert & Margurite. She was born in Spencer County, KY and the d/o Harrison & Nancy Whitaker "Whitt" Terrell Lyon.  Source-Ventura Star Free Press.

Herbert Lyon, 75 of Ojai, died Friday in an Ojai convalescent hospital after a long illness.
Mr. Lyon was born April 15, 1915 in Ojai, and was a life-long county resident.
He was retired, having been a chief petty officer in the Navy for 20 years, serving in World War 11 and the Korean War. He also worked as an electronic technician for the Pacific Missile Center, Point Mugu. He was a member of the American Legion in Ventura.
He is survived by son, Christopher of Ojai; daughter Shelley of Bonita and Susan of Fresno; sisters Rosina of Yakima, Wash.; and Marguerite of Ventura; and 6 grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife Sheilah in 1973 and his brother Harry A. Lyon in 1984.
The body will be cremated and the remains will be scattered at sea under the direction of the Neptune Society of Santa Barbara.  Source: Ventura Star Free Press.  Herbert's date of death is Sept. 21, 1990.He was the s/o Daniel Edwin and Zena Harcourt Lyon, Lyon.

Requiem mass for Mrs. Sheila Mary Lyon Drey, 49, of 111 St. Paul St., Ventura, will be celebrated at 9 a.m., Wednesday in Sacred Heart Church, Saticoy.
Mrs. Drey died Saturday in a local hospital after a brief illness. She was a native of England, born Sept. 21, 1923, in London. She had lived in Ventura since 1949, and was a beautician, employed by Hans Hair Styling Salon, Ventura.
Surviving are her children, Chris, Susan and Shelley Lyon all living in Ventura.
Private interment will be Wednesday in Ivy Lawn Park. Friends may call at the Ted Mayr Funeral Home after 5 p.m. today.  Source: Ventura Star Free Press.

Mrs. Minnie Carl Beckwith, 71 of 7386 Eisenhower St., Ventura, died yesterday at a local hospital after a long illness.
Mrs. Beckwith came to Ventura County 22 years ago from Cleveland, Ohio. She was born July 6, 1892.
Surviving are her husband, George Beckwith, Ventura; daughter Mrs. Irma Frickberg, Ventura; three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be conducted in the Loma Vista Funeral Chapel of the Ted Mayr Funeral Home, Ventura, Thursday, at 2:30 p.m.. Interment will be in Ivy Lawn Cemetery.
Source: Ventura Star Free Press

Harold T. Smeltz, 83, Los Angeles, died Thrusday, Nov. 25, (1993), arrangments by Ted Mayr Funeral Home, Ventura.  Source: Ventura Star Free Press.

Robert "Bob" Smeltz, 75, Ventura, died Monday in a Ventura hospital after a brief illness.
Mr. Smeltz was born April 3, 1913, in Lamar, (Prowers County) Colo., and was a 44-year county resident, coming from Long Beach.    Mr. Smeltz was retired, having worked as a steamfitter for Plumber & Steamfitters Union Local 484 for 30 years.    He is survived by his wife Peggy; daughters, Hallie Birdsong-Martinson of Ventura and April Griggs of San Diego; brother Walter Smeltz of Avenal; grandchildren Jason Griggs of San Diego and Rebecca Jensen of Ventura.   Cremation arrangements are under the direction of the Ted Mayr Funeral Home, Ventura.   Memorial contributations may be made to the Arthritis Foundation of Ventura County.
Source: Ventura County Star Free Press.  Note: Robert "Bob" Smeltz worked in the ship yards in Long Beach during WW 11as a steamfitter, after the war he & his family moved to Ventura where he was a fireman for the City of Ventura. He was the s/o Charles Grant & Minnie Keairns Smeltz.
Sunday, Dec. 18, 1988-Ventura Star Free Press

Graveside services for William W. Smeltz, 67, of 1219 E. Cypress St., Anaheim, were at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Ivy Lawn Memorial Park, Montalvo. Mr. Smeltz died May 30, (1968) in an Anaheim hospital after a sudden illness.   Born June 12, 1900, in Granada, (Prowers County) Colo., he had lived in the Los Angeles area since 1926.  Surviving are his brothers, Walter of Anaheim ( should be Avenal), Robert of Ventura, C. D. of Denver, Colo., sister, Pauline S. (Smeltz) Oliver of Ventura and a nephew and three nieces.
Source: Ventura Star Free Press.

William Bunker
William Charles "Bill" Bunker, age 80, passed away Thursday, May 21, 1998, following a short illness.
Mr. Bunker was born on Nov. 4, 1917, in Los Mochis, State of Sinaloa, Mexico, where he was raised until the age of 10. His parents, William Samuel Bunker and Elisa Garcia Bunker, then arranged to send Bill to live and attend school in Simi Valley under the sponsorship of cousin, Tom Robertson. While attending school, he lived with the I.V. Brown family and worked on the Sinaloa Ranch graduating from Simi Valley High School, class of 1936.
In 1940, Bill married his wife of 58 years, Catherine "Kay" Sumter. After World War II, Bill and Kay settled in the San Fernando Valley, where he became a successful building contractor and began to raise his four children, Cecilia, Lucinda, Daniel and Leslie.
In 1955, the Bunker family returned to Simi Valley, the farming community of Bill's childhood, where he and Kay have lived ever since. Bill was active in the Simi Valley Lions Club, where for a time he served as president and was a charter member of the Simi Valley Elks Club. During his lifetime he was a devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He was also "Godfather" to the many members of his large extended family.
Bill will be greatly missed by his family and numerous friends.
He is survived by his wife, Catherine of Simi Valley; daughters, Cecelia Morris of Corona, Calif., Lucinda Neff of Truckee, Calif., Leslie Stock of Valencia, Calif.; and son, Daniel Bunker of San Francisco, Calif., and sisters, Esther Braswell of Fallbrook, Calif., and Jeneva Benavides of Monterey, Mexico. He is also survived by seven grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
A memorial service for family and friends will be held at 1 p.m. Friday, May 29 at the Simi Valley Elks Lodge, 1561 Kuehner Dr., Simi Valley. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to a medical research foundation of the donor's choice.

Dean Wilson Morrison
Dean Wilson Morrison, age 78, of Lewisville, Texas, died Saturday, at a Lewisville hospital, following a brief illness.
Dean was born Oct. 20, 1919, in Morrisonville, Wis., to James Hill and Edith Eastman Morrison. He married Ruth Warren on Sept. 6, 1941, in Madison, Wis. He was a Navy veteran of World War II. Dean worked as an import/export entrepreneur for 30 years, until his retirement in 1985. He then attended the U.S. Federal Law Enforcement Academy to become an immigration officer/adjudicator with the U.S. Department of Justice from which he officially retired on March 2, 1998.
He is survived by his wife, Ruth; daughters, Susan Canestro of Simi Valley and Patricia M. Schafer of San Diego; son, Richard Dean Morrison of Kirkland, Wash.; sister, Muriel Schwebs of Wisconsin; brother, Wayne Morrison of Monona, Wis.; 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Friends may call from 12:30 until 1:30 p.m., with a funeral service at 1:30 p.m, Thursday, at the Conejo Mountain Funeral Home.
Memorial donations may be made to the American Cancer Society, in his memory.

Kathryn Graffo Reese
Mrs. Kathryn Graffo Reese, age 78, passed away on Thursday, May 21, 1998, in Simi Valley of heart failure.
Born April 23, 1920, in Birmingham, Ala., Mrs. Reese was a resident of Simi Valley for 30 years. She had been a homemaker for 47 years. She was a member of the Republican Women's Club, Congressman Elton Gallegly's Congressional Club and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation. Mrs. Reese traveled extensively with her husband while he was in the Air Force, having resided in Stewart AFB in Tennessee, Pope AFB in North Carolina, Maxwell AFB in Alabama and in New York. His oversees assignments took her to Tripoli, Libya, Wiesbaden, Germany, Tangier, Sidi Slimane, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Italy, Denmark, Switzerland and Austria. She was the Vice President of the Wiesbaden Officers Wives Club and a member of the Libya Officers Golf and Bowling Teams.
She is survived by her husband of 47 years, Lt. Col. Harvey Reese, Retired USAF, State Military Reserve; daughter, Deborah Reese of Canoga Park; son Harvey Reese of Los Angeles; daughter Yvonne Kaufman of Orange County, and two grandchildren, Rachel and Adam Kaufman of Orange County.
Visitation will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 26, 1998, at Reardon Simi Valley Mortuary, 2636 Sycamore Drive, Simi Valley. A Funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, May 27, 1998, at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, 1305 Royal Avenue, Simi Valley. Graveside services will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday, May 28, 1998, at Riverside National Cemetery, 22495 Van Buren Blvd., Riverside.
Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Reardon Simi Valley Mortuary. 

Roy E. Heller
Roy E. Heller, age 72, of Port Hueneme passed away May 18, 1998.
Roy was born on April 26, 1926, in Riverside, Calif., the son of Ralph and Mabel Heller. Roy began an exciting and fulfilling career in the U.S. Navy at the young age of 16. His naval career took him around the world. He was stationed at Barber's Point, Hawaii; Patuxet River, Md.; and finally Point Mugu. Roy served his country in Japan during World War II and flew early warning aircraft missions during the Korean Conflict. He retired from Point Mugu as a chief petty officer in 1962. Roy is a proud member of the VFW and FRA. Roy served the community in various ways during his 38 years living in Port Hueneme. He served as grand marshal at one of Hueneme's first Fourth of July parades. He also assisted with the construction of Hueneme High's football lights. He enjoyed playing Santa Claus for various organizations. The past 23 years, Roy was an outstanding sales representative for KAR products, making Winner's Circle seven consecutive years. Roy will be remembered for his positive outlook on life, his greeting "Unbelievable," and his bear hugs.
He is survived by his loving wife of 48 years, Margaret Heller. Together, they had three beautiful daughters, Linda Robertson and husband Lyle of Chula Vista, Lani Sheridan of Paso Robles and Debbie Lee and husband Bryan of Moorpark. He has eight wonderful grandchildren, Pamela Powers and her husband, Richard; Mark Robertson; Wendy Sheridan and her fiance, Darren Amaral; Sean Sheridan; Kelly and Scott Granger; Katie and Robyn Lee; and his first great-grandson, Tyler. Roy is also survived by his sister, Vicki Gollings of Riverside.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m., Saturday, May 30, 1998, at Conrad-Carroll Mortuary in Oxnard.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the American Cancer Society.
Arrangements are under the direction of Conrad-Carroll Mortuary in Oxnard.