Obituaries: Local Spotlight

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  1. DonMaxineSimpson4.JPG

    Couple married almost 62 years die four hours apart

    BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer
    Tuesday, Jul 29 2014 04:24 PM

    Married for almost 62 years, Don and Maxine Simpson didn't let death keep them apart for long. The two died within four hours of each other July 21 at the home of one of their granddaughters, where they'd spent their final days side by side. He was 90 and she was 87.

    "They did a lot of amazing things" together, granddaughter Melissa Sloan said Tuesday, ranging from living in Europe to participating in local civic groups.

    That included Don's joining the Bakersfield Racquet Club in 1952, working closely in the development of the club and in later years holding the position as its longest standing member. The couple were involved with The Rotary Club of Bakersfield, Woman's Club of Bakersfield, YMCA of Kern County, Boys & Girls Clubs of...

  2. Boles.JPG

    Longtime elementary school teacher Gina Boles dies

    Gina Boles, a longtime teacher at Endeavour Elementary School, was the kind of educator administrators wanted instructing their children. Deanna Clarke, a former Endeavour principal, even joked she considered moving Boles to a higher...

  3. MauriceSneed.JPG

    Sign spinner more than an advertiser to those he saw

    The six-lanes of White Lane and Gosford Road bring an estimated 67,700 vehicles through the intersection every day, and yet the man who stood dancing on the corner never went unnoticed. Tammy Rudd, 49, drove past the intersection where...

  4. Levan_1_fa.JPG

    Local philanthropist remembered as kind, intelligent

    As a humble, quiet, generous and kind man, Norman Levan most importantly loved helping others. Dr. Levan, a longtime Bakersfield dermatologist and philanthropist, died in his home Sunday at age 98. Robert Allison, his friend of more than...

  5. BILL_DANA.JPG

    Aerospace pioneer, longtime Kern resident Bill Dana, dies

    The image of Tehachapi test pilot Bill Dana wearing a gleaming silver pressure suit, flying alone in a black X-15 rocket plane hurtling toward the edge of space, is practically the definition of the iconic phrase, The Right Stuff. Dana,...

  6. Duane3.JPG

    Duane Moore, local Democratic leader and union organizer, dies

    Duane W. Moore's wife joked he was a paid troublemaker. As an organizer first with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and later for the building and construction trades within the AFL-CIO, he traveled around the country...

  7. Imam Yusuf Islam.JPG

    Longtime Bakersfield Muslim leader dies

    When Sahib Mujahid was released from prison in 1985 after serving time for murder, the newly converted Muslim had nowhere to go and no family in the area. It was Imam Yusuf Islam who picked him up outside the Tehachapi prison gates and...

  8. Susan Ferguson.JPG

    Realtor, activist Susan Ferguson dies

    Bakersfield Realtor Susan Terry Cahan Ferguson didn't have breast cancer when she began volunteering for the American Cancer Society 18 years ago. It was pure altruism that motivated her back then, typical, say friends and family, of her...

  9. FuneralBus1.JPG

    Bus driver made riders feel like family

    She was short of stature yet maneuvered a 40-foot-long, 20-ton whale of a bus safely across Bakersfield for 33 years. Hundreds of friends, family members and Golden Empire Transit bus drivers squeezed into Rising Star Baptist Church on...

  10. Bentz.JPG

    Doug Bentz, ski shop owner and Bakersfield icon, dies at 70

    Almost every Sunday for the past 15 years, Doug Bentz met his son, Dirk, for a 25-mile, early morning bike ride. They rode together this past weekend, too, for the last time. The 70-year-old Bentz, owner of Bentz Ski Chalet and known as...

  11. Nick_Uricchio_dies1.JPG

    Nick Uricchio: 1926-2014 Restaurateur helped pioneer downtown resurgence

    Nicholas Mario "Nick" Uricchio, the local restaurateur known for bringing Beverly Hills sophistication to downtown Bakersfield through Uricchio's Trattoria, died Sunday. He was 87. His 17th Street restaurant, which he and son Steve opened...

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    People we lost in 2013: Their accomplishments lifted the community

    When people we have never met and only seen from afar pass away, they take a small part of us with them. And we hold a piece of them as well, in us. The hours spent watching a TV host, the inspiration gleaned from a man with an incurable...

  13. Michael Gagner.JPG

    An unexpected career, an exceptional life

    Michael Gagner had two careers. The first was 22 years as a petroleum engineer in different locales around the country. The second was living with the progressive, degenerative, neuromuscular disease Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which...

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