Alums In Memoriam
1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s
ELDON HUNT (AB, Education and Credential, ’38; Credential, ’43; Credential, ’46) died Jan. 13, 2009, at the age of 97. He began his teaching career in one- and two-room schools in Siskiyou County and retired as principal of Vandalia School in 1971. He then spent 24 years as a volunteer at the Porterville Historical Museum and continued to act in local theatre productions. He is survived by wife Zerita; son Edward; daughters Geraldine, Eldeen, and Kathleen; nine grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren.
A. JOHN MERLO (attended fall ’40–spring ’43) died Jan. 14, 2008, at the age of 85. He was an Army cryptographer during World War II and then practiced law in Chico for 55 years. He was the chairman of the Democratic Party of Northern California in 1972–1973 and ran for lieutenant governor in the 1970s. He is survived by daughter Lisa, son John, and two grandchildren.
ALBERT SCHLUETER JR. (AB, Education and Credentials, ’41; Credential, ’52; MA, Education, ’53) died in early 2009 at the age of 92. He worked in school administration in Northern California school districts and became the first superintendent of the Butte Community College District in 1968. He was co-chair of the Community College Commission on Athletics when Title IX was passed, which mandated equal opportunity for girls and women in school sports programs. He is survived by wife Leah; children Sandra, Steven, and Sally; stepson Andy; and eight grandchildren.
EILEEN HUTCHINGS (attended fall ’45, spring ’46, and spring ’47) died Oct. 19, 2008, at the age of 80. She was an airline stewardess for Western Airlines and a stay-at-home parent before starting a third career at the Department of Defense. She retired in 1996. Hutchings is survived by children David, Philip, Leroy, and Susan and four grandchildren.
ROY McKERNAN (AB, History, ’50) died Dec. 30, 2008, at the age of 84. He was an attorney and Butte County supervisor. He led the drive to incorporate Paradise. McKernan was preceded in death by wife Helen and is survived by son Patrick and two grandsons.
RICHARD ERNEST HENRICI (AB, Lab Tech Training, ’52) died July 28, 2008, at the age of 81. He owned and operated Henrici Labs in Butterfly Valley with his family for 50 years. He is predeceased by his wife and one grandson, and is survived by children Kenneth and Dawn, three grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
RONALD ATKINSON (AB, Education and Credential, ’55) died Dec. 31, 2008, at the age of 75. Atkinson was a special education teacher in San Francisco for 47 years. He and wife Dawn had a lifelong love of the theatre and sang, danced, and acted in shows for the Green Room, a San Francisco theatre group, for 35 years. After retiring in 1998, he made costumes for theatre productions, became a master quilt maker, and honed his carpentry skills. Atkinson is survived by wife Dawn, son Barry, daughter Marilynn, and three grandchildren.
GOLDIE SMALL (AB, Education and Credential, ’58) died Nov. 4, 2008, at the age of 99. As a child, she came west with her family in a covered wagon. After raising two sons, Small pursued her degree and became a teacher in Dixon. She retired in 1974. She was predeceased by husband Herb and daughter Willow and is survived by sons Garry and Lloyd, seven grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.
LAVERNE G. POETKER (BS, Mechanical Engineering, ’59) died May 18, 2008, at the age of 75. He was an Air Force veteran of the Korean Conflict. He retired in 2003 after having worked as an engineer for various companies since 1959. Poetker is survived by wife Thelma, daughter Valerie, and one granddaughter.
WILLIAM MILLS (AB, Physical Education, ’60) died Oct. 27, 2008, at the age of 77. He was a teacher and spent the past seven years at Livingston Middle School in Livingston. He was an avid fisherman and outdoorsman. Mills is survived by wife Janet; children Wendy, Sean, Dan, and Jana; and seven grandchildren.
CARL HOWARD (attended summer ’61, fall ’61, and spring ’62) died Dec. 29, 2008, at the age of 70. He worked as a AAA claims adjustor for 34 years before retiring in 1998. He was predeceased by wife Mary and is survived by sons Robert and Garrett.
MICHAEL VINSONHALER (AB, Economics, ’63) died Nov. 9, 2008, at the age of 68. He and his father-in-law were partners in Maxfield Construction for 20 years. He was also a Realtor and member of the Yuba City Unified School District Governing Board. He retired as manager of the Wells Fargo Home Mortgage office in Yuba City in 2006. Vinsonhaler is survived by wife Shirley, daughter Jill, son Jeff, and four grandchildren.
ALAN CARL CROWSON (attended fall ’55–fall ’64) died Dec. 17, 2008, at the age of 83. Crowson was a veteran of the Marine paratroopers and was the recipient of a Purple Heart. He retired from a career in education in 1985. He is survived by wife Velma; children Bruce, Steve, Sue, and Jill; and nine grandchildren.
MICHAEL PRICE (AB, Political Science, ’65) died Sept. 4, 2006, in a sailing accident off the coast of his home, Sitka, Alaska. He worked in the Division of Family and Youth Services when he wasn’t on his sailboat or exploring Alaska’s peaks. Price is survived by wife Theresa Hillhouse and daughter Tracy.
GERALD HARDY (BS, Business, ’66) died Nov. 28, 2008, at the age of 66. He worked in Chico as a State Farm Insurance claim representative for 40 years before retiring in 2006. Hardy is survived by wife Jan, daughters Cyndi and Julie, and eight grandchildren.
WILLIAM McHUGH (BA, Business Administration, ’68) died Nov. 18, 2008, at the age of 63. He established the Yuba City real estate office Wm. McHugh & Son with his father before starting his own mortgage business and becoming branch manager of Weyerhaeuser. McHugh was predeceased by two infant children and is survived by daughter Scarlet and son William.
THOMAS SANGUINETTI (BS, Business, ’68) died Feb. 14, 2009, of colon cancer at the age of 64. He was the founding father of the national fraternity Tau Gama Theta. After college, Sanguinetti taught school, served in the Army, worked for Texaco Oil Company, and spent 20 years as a stockbroker in the San Francisco Bay Area. He moved to Bend, Oregon, after his retirement. Sanguinetti is survived by wife Barbara and daughter Anne Marie.
ERNEST JOE CORNELLA (BA, Recreation Administration, ’71; MA, Physical Education, ’73) died Dec. 27, 2008, at the age of 64. He was a building contractor in Chico and coached football at St. Mary’s College and Butte College. Cornella is survived by his parents and Melissa, his companion of 38 years.
RICHARD LEE (BA, Social Sciences, ’72) died Nov. 27, 2009, at the age of 62. He was an insurance broker in the Bay Area for more than 30 years. Lee is survived by wife Nancy and daughters Glenda and Erin.
PAMELA KOOB (BA, Social Welfare, ’73) died Oct. 30, 2008, at the age of 56. She is survived by husband John, daughter Sarah, and son Ryan.
STEVE VAN SICKLE (BS, Business Administration, ’73) died Dec. 8, 2008, at the age of 58. He started his own company in Danville. Van Sickle is survived by wife Barbara and daughters Lauren and Julie.
CAROLYN TAYLOR (BA, Drama, ’75) died Oct. 22, 2008, at the age of 55. She worked and volunteered as a Tupperware salesperson, event planner, fundraiser, seamstress, and in community relations. Taylor is survived by partner Eddie, daughter Heather, and son Ryan.
LLOYD HUBBARD (MA, Education, ’77) died Dec. 2, 2008, at the age of 80. He was an ordained Nazarene minister for more than 50 years and worked in the Glenn County school district for 25 years. He was Glenn County superintendent of schools for 12 years. He retired to Nampa, Idaho, in 1998 to be near friends and family. Hubbard is survived by wife Nita, daughters Marna and Paula, sons Reynold and Tim, 14 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
GEORGE LANGEN (BA, Sociology, ’77) died Nov. 27, 2008, at the age of 76. He was in the U.S. Army and worked in mortuaries before returning to school and becoming a speech teacher. He was inducted into the CSU, Chico Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992. He is survived by wife Caroline, daughter Karen, sons Michael and Steven, and two grandchildren.
RANDALL LANGELAND (BA, Psychology, ’81) died Jan. 9, 2009, at the age of 58. He lived in Chico and owned J. Randall and Associates, a computer medical software program company. He is survived by wife Sharon, daughter Janell, and two grandchildren.
EDWARD SPANUTIUS (BS, Business Management, ’83) died Nov. 15, 2008, at the age of 51. He worked for more than 20 years as a project manager at Boeing. He is survived by wife Christie, stepson Tom, daughters Anna and Christine, and two grandsons.
STEVEN VEVEIROS (BS, Business Administration, ’85) died Dec. 14, 2008, at the age of 46. He was a lifelong resident of Sonoma County and is survived by wife Julie, son Nick, and daughter Olivia.
ANTHONY VRH (BA, Art, ’86) died Nov. 11, 2008, at the age of 45. He had an MFA from University of Idaho, Moscow, and worked for Hunt Paving in Modesto. Vrh is survived by children Lillian and Camillia.
FAITH WOCHNA (attended fall ’86–spring ’88) died Jan. 11, 2009, at the age of 55. She was a registered dietician who most recently worked in Washington at Virginia Mason and Group Health. She is survived by husband Michael and daughter Sara.
RICH LYON (BA, Physical Education, ’89; Credential, ’90) died March 11, 2008, at the age of 46. He was an employee of Humboldt County Health. Lyon is survived by parents James and Patricia and daughter Taylor.
ANDREA DeVINCENZI (BA, Child Development, ’90) died Nov. 21, 2008, at the age of 42. She was an instructor of Early Childhood Education at Delta College in Stockton and was working toward her Doctor of Education at the time of her death. DeVincenzi is survived by children Natalie, Leonard, Robert, and Joseph.
PATRICK MURPHY (BS, Nursing, ’94) died April 11, 2009, of leukemia at the age of 54. He had been an Army infantryman and paratrooper, a volunteer firefighter, and a nurse in the humanitarian aid field. He worked around the world through Doctors Without Borders. Murphy’s work in Africa was featured in the summer 2007 issue of Chico Statements (www.csuchico.edu/pub/cs/summer_07/feature_03.html). Murphy is survived by son Paul, who is in the Coast Guard, and mother Patricia.
SARA KUSZAK (BA, Sociology, ’95) was kidnapped and killed Feb. 4, 2009, while jogging in Puerto Rico. She was 36 years old and five months pregnant. Kuszak lived in Savannah, Georgia, with her fiancé, Cheshire McIntosh, a professional yachtsman. She had spent the past five years working as a chef on the yachts that McIntosh piloted. Kuszak is survived by McIntosh and her parents, Tom and Joan.
ROBERT SEARS (BA, Psychology, ’95) died Oct. 5, 2008, at the age of 38 of a malignant head melanoma. He was a professional BMX biker. Sears is survived by parents Gloria and Richard.
DANIEL FREITAS (BA, Physical Education, ’98) died Oct. 19, 2008, at the age of 52. After more than 20 years of work in grocery stories, Freitas decided to pursue his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physical therapy. He began a practice in the Ben Berman Outpatient Rehabilitation Center at St. Mary’s Medical Center, eventually becoming clinic supervisor. Freitas helped save 27 lives as a long-time apheresis donor, according to Blood Centers of the Pacific. He is survived by wife Debbie.
BRANDY PAIGE SANTOS DUNCAN (BA, Social Work, ’02) died Dec. 4, 2008, at the age of 37. She worked for Nurses and Professional Health Care of Chico. She is survived by children Miranda and Zachariah.
TUCKER MESKER (attended fall ’07–fall ’08) died Dec. 6, 2008, at the age of 22. He was originally from Richfield and came to Chico after two years at Mendocino Community College. He is survived by his parents and his brother, also a Chico State student.
—Anna Harris and Katherine Spencer, Public Affairs and Publications
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Dedication to Education
ELLICE HASSEL (Credential, ’29; AB, Education, ’32) died Dec. 20, 2008, at the age of 99. She was a long-time educator who spent most of her career working in Northern California schools.
Hassel was born on Aug. 27, 1909, in Sutter City to Norwegian immigrants who stressed the importance of higher education to their four children—Ellice, Helen, MARIE (’34), and HAROLD (’37). “The entire family became teachers as a result of Grandma and Grandpa Hassel’s influence,” says Hassel’s niece BARBARA MANN (AB, Education and Credential, ’57), who adds that all the Hassel grandchildren also pursued careers in education.
After graduating from Chico State Teachers College, Hassel taught in local schools and completed her master’s degree at UC Berkeley. She worked as a school psychologist in Chico from 1938 to 1959 and in the Office of the Butte County Superintendent of Schools from 1960 until her retirement. Hassel worked largely with children with physical and mental handicaps.
In 1969, the California Legislative Rules Committee commended Hassel for her years of service with a resolution stating in part, “She has left an impression on many children and has influenced them to become productive and worthwhile citizens … her quiet dedication will serve as an example to others in the field of education.”
Hassel was predeceased by sister Helen and brother Harold, and sister Marie died several months after Ellice. She is survived by her four nieces: BARBARA, CAROLYN (’59), GERALDINE (’65), and MARGARET (attended summer ’63 and ’64).
—Anna Harris, Public Affairs and Publications
A Life Well Lived
JOHN COWAN (AB, Biology, ’43) died Oct. 15, 2008, at the age of 92 at his home in Gridley. Cowan had great influence in Butte County as the long-time manager of Gray Lodge Wildlife Area and a founding trustee of Butte Community College.
Cowan came to Chico from his birthplace of Sacramento to pursue a degree in biology. While at Chico State College, he was elected student body president and started as a defensive back on the varsity football team. He also met his future wife, AVIS (AB, Biology, ’43), during this time. They married in 1945. He was a fighter pilot during World War II and then earned a master’s degree in zoology from UC Berkeley.
In 1948, Cowan became manager of what was then the Gray Lodge State Waterfowl Refuge, an area located between Gridley and the Sutter Buttes. He and Avis raised their four children at the lodge, and during his 32 years of management, the refuge grew from 2,540 acres to 8,400.
Cowan retired in 1980 and served as wildlife habitat consultant until 2001. In 2002, he and Avis authored A Jewel in the Pacific Flyway: The Story of Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. As a 19-year member of the Butte College Board of Trustees, Cowan helped to determine the location of the campus and to designate the 928-acre main campus as a wildlife refuge. He was a dedicated supporter of the college’s sports program, and the college’s John B. Cowan Sports Complex is named in honor of the encouragement he offered to coaches and players.
Cowan is survived by wife Avis, sons Daniel and JOHN JR. (BA, Musical Composition and Mass Media Production, ’77), daughters Janet and REBECCA (BA, Music and Spanish, ’76; MA, Recreation Administration, ’78), 19 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren. The family has established a memorial Web site for Cowan (www.johnbcowan.com).
—Anna Harris, Public Affairs and Publications