Obituaries | June 12, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Community Pulse - June 12, 2009


Gerald A. Focha, a resident of Danville, died May 27 at the age of 76.

He was born Jan. 10, 1933, in Sebastopol. He attended Analy High School and went on to San Jose State. He served in the Navy during the Korean conflict, returned safely and completed his bachelor's degree in economics and finance at University of San Francisco. He sold Mack Trucks in the Bay Area for many years. He had a life-long fascination with all things mechanical, especially antique trucks, tractors, motorcycles and engines. When retired he traveled the world.

He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Juanita; his brother Lloyd; and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his sister Jean Menini and brother-in-law George Rodgers.

A celebration of his life was scheduled for 2:30 p.m., Friday, June 12, at Wilson & Kratzer Chapel of San Ramon Valley, 825 Hartz Way, Danville. Donations may be made in his name to the American Diabetes Association Memorial Honor Program, P.O. Box 11454, Alexandria, VA 22312.

Glen Arthur Gierke, a resident of Alamo, died May 25 at the age of 89.

He was born Jan. 11, 1920, in Chicago where he lived his early years before moving to northern Indiana. Awarded a basketball scholarship to Valparaiso University, he graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1948 with a double major in English and physical education and a minor in biology. After teaching in Indiana for nine years, he moved to California in 1965, where he taught biology, math and English for 23 years at Alhambra High School in Martinez, and was a mentor teacher for the science curriculum. He also coached varsity baseball for 18 years, leading the Alhambra Bulldogs to six League Championships and was named Coach of the Year in 1977.

Upon retirement in 1988, he became active in SIRS Branch 128, serving as lay chaplain for 15 years. He also served as volunteer chaplain at Kaiser Permanente in Walnut Creek for four years. He was an avid golfer, and a life deacon of Danville Congregational Church. He was the family storyteller as well as a clever poet.

He is survived by his wife Peggy; sons Jonathan (Helen), David, Christopher (Annette); daughter Gina Hidahl; stepson Greg Comstock; stepdaughter Cynthia Hasselman (Bob); four grandchildren; brothers Leon "Bud" (Trudy) and Duane (Jackie); five step-grandchildren; eight step-great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews. His brother Owen pre-deceased him in 2004.

A memorial service was held June 7 at Danville Congregational Church, 989 San Ramon Valley Blvd., Danville, where donations can be made in his name.

Jeffrey Rowe Soulages, a resident of Alamo, died May 21 at the age of 51.

He was born March 29, 1958. He was a loving and devoted husband, a caring and nurturing father, a loyal partner, and a blessing to all who were in his life. In his youth, he was active in baseball, sailing and tennis. He later went on to play tennis at Washington High School in Fremont and at San Jose State University. After graduation, he joined the accounting firm Armanino McKenna LLP in 1979, and was named a partner in 1988. He was known for his personal commitment to his clients and was an advocate for fairness and decency. He coached baseball for his son, soccer for his daughter, and never missed a Cal State Fullerton baseball game, where his oldest son pitched.

He was preceded in death by his mother Jan, and son Christopher. He is survived by his wife Kristie; his children Jeffrey, Nicole and Bret; grandson Ryan; and all of his family and friends, including the Armanino Firm family.

A memorial service was held May 29 at Community Presbyterian Church in Danville.

Barbara Lord Felt, a former resident of Danville, died May 26 at the age of 83.

She was born and raised in New Hampshire and came to California after World War II. She was in the Aviation Repair Business for more than 55 years and ran the business for 10 years after her husband passed away until she retired in 2002. She was a life member of Bridge Marina and Driftwood Yacht Clubs. She was a devoted wife and mother and a friend to everyone.

She is survived by three children, Gerald Golden, Judy Felt and Lewis Felt; three grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and a brother, Gerald Lord. A memorial service was held June 7 at the Driftwood Yacht Club in Oakley.

David Battaglini, a resident of Danville, died May 27 at the age of 69.

He was born March 25, 1940. His life was full of family, friends and his companion, Cash. He grew up in Danville from the first grade and lived on the Bryan Ranch with his sisters, Joyce and Sandy Ralph. He learned all phases of ranching, animal husbandry, equipment repair and carpentry. He was well-versed in his trade as a landscape contractor, trained at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He was an avid hunter, fisherman and had fun riding his snowmobile and camping in the mountains. He loved to share his "bounty" of fruit, vegetables and his famous pomegranate jelly.

He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Susan, and children Julie (Dave Petroni) and Bryan (Kelly); his five grandchildren and many nieces, nephews and cousins. A memorial Mass was held June 2 at St. Isidore Church in Danville. Memorial donations can be made to Loaves and Fishes of Contra Costa or St. Jude Children's Hospital.

Zaida Teresa Rodriguez, a Danville resident, died May 29 at the age of 56.

She was born June 22, 1952, in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. She was a teacher and administrator for SFUSD for 32 years and received the Principal of the Year Award for 2008-09, and was a board member of the Western Region Puerto Rican Council, which provides scholarships for Latino youth. She truly loved working with children and was dedicated to creating a program and a world that respects the beauty and importance of children and families.

She leaves behind her mother, Zaida Diaz-Nieves; husband of 33 years, Nestor Rodriguez; daughters Vianca (Bill) Flint and Debra (Jonathan) Kendler; and four grandchildren. A memorial service was held June 3 at Hull's Walnut Creek Chapel in Walnut Creek. Memorial donations may be made to Mission or Bryant Child Development Parent Fund or the SF Kidney Foundation in her memory.

Francis Joseph McGonigle, a resident of Danville, died May 29 at the age of 83.

He was born May 9, 1926, and grew up in Belvidere, Ill., with his parents, John and Marguerite, and his brother Jack. After graduating from Notre Dame University in 1949, he moved to the Bay Area. A defining moment in his life came in 1952, when a tragic auto accident killed his beloved wife Martha, and put him in a coma for two months. He never re-married. He was known to many county residents as the tall, thin, good-humored maitre d' at Emil Villa's in Walnut Creek for nearly 30 years. He was an accomplished golfer, and trophies from several member tournaments at Diablo Country Club adorned his bookshelf.

He is survived and missed by his four nephews, John, Tom, Tim and Jim McGonigle. A funeral Mass was celebrated June 5 at St. Isidore Catholic Church in Danville.

Robert Herman Rantz, a resident of Danville, died May 27 at the age of 87.

He was born Aug. 3, 1921, in Chicago, Ill., and met Marie during WWII. They were married 63 years, which took them from Chicago to Arcadia and, for the past 21 years, to Danville. He enrolled in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1940, then enlisted in the Navy in 1942. He served in the Navy from 1943-46 in the LST amphibious ships, participating in 27 landings, including D-Day in the Pacific theater. After the war, he returned to complete his degree in international law and foreign trade in 1947. After spending the post war years in Chicago, his family moved to Southern California in 1953. Five years later, he started his own business, M&H Products, to serve the material handling industry with innovative products. After 23 years, he sold the business and retired. In 1986, they moved to Danville, following their daughter and son-in-law's move to Northern California. Although "retired," Mr. Rantz used his motorhome to serve meals to the workers at Miracle Ranch in Mexico; served in Sons of Retirement (SIRs Branch #128) editing the bulletin and serving as travel chairman; and providing entertainment at senior residences, convalescent homes and hospitals. He also served at Community Presbyterian Church as an usher and was involved with Prime Time. His volunteerism attracted the attention of the Town of Danville, which presented him with an Award of Merit in 2000. He would not go out anywhere without a sport coat and tie, which his father had ingrained this in him at an early age.

He was predeceased by his beloved wife Marie Ruth Rantz, who died March 24. He is survived by his daughters Kathie Rantz and Elizabeth Rantz Stine; and two grandchildren. A celebration of his life was held June 9 at Community Presbyterian Church in Danville.

Mary Marinkovich, a resident of Danville, died peacefully May 21 at the age of 88.

She was born May 31, 1920. She is survived by daughters Luci (John) Lussing and Toni (Tim) Renault; grandchildren Krista (Marc) Braden, Mark Lussing, Cera Renault; and great-grandchildren Carter and Chase Braden. Services will be held at a later date.

Ruby Morris, a resident of Danville, died May 28 at the age of 90.

She was born Sept. 12, 1918, in Oak Grove, Miss., and resided in Danville for more than 56 years. She attended the University of Missouri and graduated from San Mateo Junior College. She met Robert (Bob) Morris Sr. while working in San Francisco and they were married in 1943. In addition to being a loving wife and mother, she was also the secretary/treasurer of Royal Jersey Inc., the business she and her husband started in 1958. She loved cooking, gardening, reading, sewing, traveling and spending time with her family. She was an active member of the Diablo Women's Garden Club for 48 years, a member and Sunday school teacher at Danville Community Presbyterian Church, a Girl Scout and Cub Scout leader and was active in the PTA.

She was preceded in death by her beloved husband of 59 years, Bob, and her six brothers and a sister. She is survived by her children Caryl Barclay, Robert Morris Jr. (Debby), Patricia Simmons, Dede Gilliam (Richard); 10 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

Private services were held June 6 in Farmington. Donations in her name can be made to a favorite charity or to Hospice of the East Bay for the Bruns House, 3470 Buskirk Ave., Pleasant Hill 94523.

Lilian Smith, a resident of Danville, died peacefully May 30 at the age of 91.

She was born in Kansas, where she met and married her husband Merle. They moved to California and settled in the East Bay. She was a longtime member of St. Phillip's in Dublin. She leaves behind her four children, Jackie Slatten, Ken Smith (Joanne), Patty Smith and Jim Smith (Melody); and five grandchildren. The family would like to thank the staffs at the San Ramon Regional Medical Center and Villa San Ramon for the excellent care shown to their mother.

Ernest W. Alverson, a resident of Alamo, died June 2 at the age of 92.

He was born Jan. 28, 1917, a native of Birmingham, Ala. He and his wife Jane Alverson migrated to Oakland from Northern Ohio in 1939 with a small baby Judy and soon-to-be-born daughter Janice. He remained stateside during the war years to build ships in the Oakland shipyards where his father William Alverson was the superintendent. At the end of WWII, they ventured into multiple restaurant and other businesses. Jane continued in the food service industry while he moved on to be a proud member of Teamster's Local 70 as a driver of heavy trucks, and they both retired in 1977. They moved to Middletown in 1983 to enjoy sun and golf, and he became a 3rd degree Mason, as well as a director on the water board. He returned to the Bay Area in 2002 to be close to his family.

He was predeceased by his wife in 1988 and his daughter Judy in 1999. He is survived by his daughter Jan; son Bill and his wife Jani; seven grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; and seven great-great-grandchildren. Services were private. Donations can be made to Children's Hospital Foundation, 747 52nd St., Oakland 94609.


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