Obituaries

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February 2018
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Raye Marie Johnson Fisher Atkinson Donatella

Raye Marie Johnson Fisher Atkinson Donatella died Thursday, February 11, 2018. While there were various medical issues, she truly died of a broken heart having lost her husband and soul mate of almost 30 years, Peter J. Donatella, just 4 months earlier.

Raye Marie Johnson was born on Saturday, September 28, 1935 in Cleves, Ohio, a rural village on the Ohio River between Cincinnati and the Indiana border. Her father was Ersel Johnson, a traveling salesman, and her mother was Elnora Adelaide Woods Johnson who raised her and Ersel’s seven children. Raye was the sixth of the seven. Raised during the Great Depression and World War II, she kept those ideals throughout her life. As a young girl and during high school she loved to draw and studied art. At the age of 16, she married Jerry Fisher and moved with him, her brother Ira Johnson, and several of their friends to Camp Polk, Louisiana where they were serving in the Army during the Korean War. After their service was over, she moved to Cleveland, Ohio with Jerry as he took a job with NACA (now NASA). Although they wanted children, Raye and Jerry could never get pregnant. After Raye and Jerry were divorced, she moved to Arizona to help her sister, Barbara, and her mother take care of her father. While working as an executive secretary at Motorola, she met Arthur Atkinson. They were married and she became the mother to Art’s four children by his first wife, as well as three children of her own: Gary Atkinson, Dennis Atkinson, Mara Atkinson Titus Miller, David Atkinson, Dale Atkinson, Dana Atkinson Vaughn Lane, and Donald Atkinson. She always loved art and would do tempera paintings on windows of her house and for some businesses. In 1965 while in Bisbee, she again started following her love of art and began oil painting. Her teacher and mentor was Leonora Benton, and she also studied under Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia. She painted mostly in oils throughout her life, although she experimented in other mediums and with clay sculpture and ceramics. She later taught oil painting to friends and family.

While she sold her paintings through art galleries and Barrows Furniture stores in Phoenix, she always believed that art should be owned by those who loved it, and would provide her paintings for free to those who couldn’t afford the gallery prices. To help bring in money to support the large family, she and Art owned a gas station in the early 1960s, Art’s Signal Service Station on the corner of 43rd and McDowell. When they moved from Bisbee to Goodyear, she and Art ran rural paper routes, and she ran a rural postal route. One day while running the postal route in Rainbow Valley, she had car troubles and when she opened the hood the radiator overflow bottle exploded giving her second- and third-degree burns on her arms, chest, neck and face. She drove herself to a place where she could get help and call for someone else to finish the route. After she recovered from the burns, she got her real estate license and worked as a real estate salesperson and broker throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. As a salesperson, she was a million-dollar salesperson every year. While working at May Real Estate, she met Peter Donatella. As soul mates, Pete and Raye divorced their spouses and married, spending the next almost 30 years together in the kind of relationship we all dream about. She gave up her real estate career and became a school secretary and administrative assistant, first in Litchfield Park and later in the Palm Valley schools. She loved the teachers and especially the kids and working around them.

Raye was preceded in death by her parents, Ersel and Elnora Johnson; four of her siblings, Ersel Johnson, Dale Johnson, Elizabeth Johnson Marsh, and Barbara Johnson Waite; her husbands, Jerry Fisher, Arthur Atkinson and Peter Donatella; and two of her children, son Dennis Atkinson and daughter Dana Atkinson Vaughn Lane. She is survived by two brothers, Ira Johnson of Toledo, Ohio, and Neil Johnson of Fort Wayne, Indiana; five of her children, Gary Atkinson of Phoenix, Mara Atkinson Titus Miller of Glendale, David Atkinson of Corydon, Indiana, Dale Atkinson of Placitas, New Mexico, and Donald Atkinson of Sun City West; and 18 grandchildren, 38 great grandchildren, and 1 great-great grandchild.

A Memorial Service will be held at 4:30 pm, Tuesday, February 20, 2015 at the Thompson Funeral Chapel in Goodyear. Following the Memorial Service, a celebration of life will be held at her and Pete’s home. Condolences for the family can be left at www.thompsonfuneralchapel.com.

 

Nicolasa R. Hernandez

Nicolasa R. Hernandez, 93, of Avondale, AZ passed away on February 14, 2018. She was born on December 6, 1924 in Zacatecas, Mexico to Antonio Robles and Anastasia Zuñiga. She is survived by her daughters Vickie Chavez and Gabby Hernandez; sons, Manuel, Dennis, Vicente, and Mario Hernandez; many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, Vicente P. Hernandez; children, Nieves Hernandez, Martin Hernandez, and Janie Garcia. A visitation will be held from 4 to 8 pm on Thursday, February 22nd, 2018 at Thompson Funeral Chapel, 926 S. Litchfield Rd, Goodyear, AZ. Funeral services will be held at 10 am on Friday, February 23rd, 2018 at Thompson Funeral Chapel with burial to follow at Holy Cross Cemetery in Avondale, AZ. Condolences to the family can be left at www.ThompsonFuneralChapel.com.

Marie Geraldine Searls

Marie Geraldine Searls, age 91 of Avondale, AZ died January 19, 2018 in Avondale, AZ. She was born May 29, 1926 to Wilfred Jackson and Margaret Voigt in Niagra Falls, Canada. Marie was a loving mother who enjoyed cooking for others, being outdoors, fishing and camping, helping to raise her grandkids, playing cards and bowling. She moved to Avondale with husband Walt and her three boys in 1959. She was exceptionally healthy throughout her life until she suffered Alzheimer’s-Dementia her last six years. Marie is survived by her sons, Dan Searls (Beth), Tom Searls (Shirley), Ken Searls; sister, Jane Eppard; five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.   She was preceded in death by her husband of over 52 years, Walter Searls; brother, James Jackson; and sister, Connie Bacharz. A funeral service will be held at 1:00 pm, Saturday, March 3, 2018 at Thompson Funeral Chapel, 926 S. Litchfield Road, Goodyear, AZ 85338. The family suggests that donations be made to the Alzheimer’s Association. Condolences for the family may be left at www.thompsonfuneralchapel.com.

Virginia Leon “Chela”

Virginia Leon, age 88 of Goodyear, AZ died February 2, 2018 in Sun City, Arizona. She was born March 20, 1929 in Los Angeles, CA to Javier and Christina Valdez. Virginia was lovingly known as “Chela” to the entire extended family. Chela loved life. She was the heart of the family and family was the most important part of her life. The love of her life was her husband, Charlie. Together they worked, played, laughed, danced and cared for each other for 63 years.

Chela is survived by her daughter, Mary Leon; sons, David and Daniel Leon; seven grandchildren, Jameson and Matthew Still, Christopher Leon, Jessica Leon Varela, Laura, Rebekah and Gabriel Leon; and eight great-grandchildren, Connor, Cameron, Harrison, Ryan, Andrew, David Charles, Charlee, and Stevie.

A memorial service will be held at 11:00 am, Saturday, February 17, 2018, at Holy Hope Cemetery, 3555 N Oracle Road, Tucson, AZ 85705.

Richard James Farrell

Richard James Farrell, age 76 of Litchfield Park, AZ died February 11, 2018 in Litchfield Park, AZ. He was born July 17, 1941 to Kenneth and Lucille (Farrell) Bloechl in Green Bay, Wisconsin. At a very young age his family moved to Oshkosh, Wisconsin where Richard lived for many years. Richard served in the 32nd Division of the Army National Guard. He worked as a licensed plumber for over 40 years in both Wisconsin and Arizona. He was a member of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish.

Richard is survived by his wife, Joann Farrell; daughter Debra (Todd) Nelson; sons, Rich (Sue) Farrell, Jeff (Linda) Farrell, Kenneth (Leslie) Farrell; eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, Kenneth Farrell and Lucille (Farrell) Bloechl; brother, William Farrell; sister, Patricia Zuehlke, and brother-in-law Marvin Zuehlke.

A visitation will be held at 11:00 am followed by a funeral service at 12:00 pm, Friday, February 16, 2018 at Thompson Funeral Chapel, 926 S. Litchfield Road, Goodyear, AZ.   Committal services will be at 1:30 pm at Holy Cross Cemetery, 9925 W Thomas Rd, Avondale, AZ 85392.

Grace J. James

Grace J. James of Litchfield Park, AZ passed peacefully in her sleep on February 9, 2018. Grace was preceded in death by her husband, Tom James (2013.) They were married 65 years.

Grace is survived by her children, Kathy James, Geoffrey James (Cricket), Tracey James-Miller (Mark), and Timothy James; her six grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and two sisters.

Grace asked that there be no memorial service. Her final resting place will be the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona where a private service will be held.  In lieu of flowers the family suggests that donations be made to Hospice of the Valley in Grace’s name.

Charles Michael Boone

Charles Michael Boone, age 79 of Goodyear, AZ died on February 4, 2018. He was born July 17, 1938 in Phoenix, AZ to Charles and Mary Boone.   He served his country in the US Army. He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Bettie Boone as well as other loving family members. A visitation will take place at 1:00 with a funeral service to follow at 1:30 pm on Saturday, February 10, 2018 at Thompson Funeral Chapel, 926 S. Litchfield Road, Goodyear, AZ 85338. Condolences for the family may be left at www.thompsonfuneralchapel.com.

Robert W. Snyder

Robert W. Snyder, age 83 of Phoenix, AZ died February 2, 2018 in Phoenix, AZ. He was born May 3, 1934 to William and Dorothy Snyder in Springfield, OH. He served in the US Navy from June, 1952 to November, 1955 as an ET2 – Electronic Tech. Robert was married 58 years to his wife, Bess Snyder. He held several AA degrees in various electronic courses. He was an avid audiophile and book collector. He was a passionate hiker having hiked all the mountains surrounding the Phoenix area including the Grand Canyon, Havasupai, Hualapai and Superstition Mountains numerous times. He loved working on computers and building them. He took pleasure in continuing his education and learning and enjoyed traveling with Bess. He is survived by his wife, Bess Snyder.

A funeral service was held at 6:00 pm on Friday, February 9, 2018 at Thompson Funeral Chapel, 926 S. Litchfield Road, Goodyear, AZ 85338. Burial will be at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona. The family suggests that donations be made to Hospice of the Valley – Gardiner Home in Phoenix, AZ.

Lilia Santarina

Lilia Santarina, age 96 of Litchfield Park, AZ died February 3, 2018 in Litchfield Park, AZ. She was born August 26, 1921 in Bacolod City, Philippines to Emiliano and Gertrudes Franco. Lilia is survived by her daughters, Marilou Manipon, Eleanor Santarina, Josephine Sampilo; sons, Dominador Santarina, Jr., Homer Santarina, Arthur Santarina; seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

A visitation will be held from 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm with a rosary at 5:30 pm, Thursday, February 8, 2018 at Thompson Funeral Chapel, 926 S. Litchfield Road, Goodyear, AZ. A funeral will be held at 10:30 am, Friday, February 9, 2018 at St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, 13720 W Thomas Rd, Avondale, AZ 85392.

Darrin Jesse Anderson

Darrin was born to John and Ruth Anderson, Sr. in Port Jefferson, New York. From the very beginning Darrin was an adventurous young man with a spirit of love and joy for a life of sports. Darrin grew up in Gordon Heights in Long Island, New York. Darrin attended school in Long Island, New York and graduated from Longwood High School in 1980.

Darrin’s’ career in Automotive started at Stony Brook University in New York, where his love and passion for cars and motorcycles grew into a lifetime of excitement. Darrin was very athletic throughout his entire life with a love for basketball and recreations, including motorcycles.   Darrin’s love for family and friends always brought him joy and those around him enjoyed him immensely.

Darrin was a devoted and baptized Jehovah’s Witness. (June 27, 1989.)

Darrin is survived by his loving and devoted wife, Patty; children, Crystal and Jordan (Aubree and Malik) ; parents, Ruth and John Anderson, Sr. ; siblings and spouse(s), Denise (Tom) Gaynor, Raymond (Kathy) Anderson, Renee Anderson, John, Jr. (Shawnee) Anderson, Kevin Anderson, Keith (Julie) Anderson, and Nicole (Brian) Lammi and a host of nieces, nephews, other relatives and an uncountable amount of friends.

A visitation will be held at 10:00 am with a funeral service to follow at 10:30 am, Saturday, February 10, 2018 at Thompson Funeral Chapel, 926 S. Litchfield Road, Goodyear, AZ 85338. Interment will be at Holy Cross Cemetery, 9925 W Thomas Rd, Avondale, AZ 85392.

Robert Marion Denny

Robert Marion Denny, 94, of Litchfield Park, AZ, passed away at LaLoma Care Center on January 17, 2018. A memorial service will be held at 10:30 am, Friday, February 16, 2018 at The Church at Litchfield Park, 300 N Old Litchfield Road, Litchfield Park, AZ 85340. Arrangements are with Thompson Funeral Chapel, Goodyear, AZ. He is survived by one sister-in-law, Delores Denny, and several nieces and nephews.

Bob was born on October 20, 1923, at Tekamah, NE, the son of Marion and Bethel Rutledge Denny. After graduating from high school in Eldorado, KS, he attended Eldorado Community College before enlisting in the United States Air Force. Following flight school, he was stationed in San Francisco, CA where he met Ila Marie Johnson. They were married on July 5, 1947 and were stationed at many bases around the world. Bob retired with the rank of Colonel following 28 years of service. In 1978 he was elected to the Arizona State Legislature and served ten years in the House and four years in the Senate. He was a member of The Church of Litchfield Park and an active supporter of the Community of Litchfield Park and it’s citizens. Bob and Ila had a special passion for promoting the LaLoma Care Center.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife, Ila Denny and three brothers, James, William and Bennett Denny.

Memorials may be directed to the Church at Litchfield Park.

Dwayne “Sarge” Sargent

Dwayne “Sarge” Sargent, age 77 of Buckeye, AZ died January 31, 2018 in Goodyear, AZ from injuries sustained in an accident at home. He was born December 17, 1940 in Burwell, NE to Wilbur and Norma Sargent. Dwayne owned his own trucks and drove them for many years. He worked for Peterbilt in Grand Island, NE as well as at Inland Kenworth in Phoenix, AZ. He also worked for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, CA. On June 16, 1962 he married his wife, Mary Hayes in Grand Island, NE. He enjoyed hunting and restoring tractors.

Dwayne is survived by his wife, Mary Sargent; daughters, Pamela (Chip) Wodrich, and Shelly (Todd) Thomas, both of Goodyear, AZ; sisters, Donna Trosper, Norma Longar, Wilburta Berney; and grandchildren, Jocelyn, Kyle, Devin, Jeremiah, and Nikki. He was preceded in death by his brother, Mardell Sargent, nephew, Dennis Sargent and other family members.

A memorial service will be held at 7:00 pm, Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at Thompson Funeral Chapel, 926 S. Litchfield Road, Goodyear, AZ 85338. Burial will be at later date at West Lawn Memorial Park in Grand Island, NE. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations be made to Yorkie Luv Rescue, 500 N Estrella Parkway, #B2, Suite 495, Goodyear, AZ 85338 or Homeless Youth Connection, 9950 W. Van Buren, Suite 114, Avondale, AZ 85323.

Lawrence John Wielgosz

Lawrence John Wielgosz of Goodyear, AZ died January 12, 2018 in Goodyear, AZ. He was born October 28, 1939 in San Francisco, CA to John and Helen Wielgosz. Larry worked at Campbell Soup in a management position and at Jel-Cert. He retired as a Deputy Clerk of DuPage County Circuit Court in Wheaton, IL. He is survived by his spouse of fifty-five years, Jacqueline (Karlow) Wielgosz; sons, John Wielgosz (Amy) and Jason Wielgosz; sisters, Emily Zielezinski (Larry’s twin) (the late Stanley), Cil Ukockis (Bob); grandchildren, Kayla and Johnny Wielgosz; brother-in-law, John (Laura) Karlow; sister-in-law, Claudia (Fred) Pirman; and many nieces, nephews and cousins that he dearly loved.

In celebration of a wonderful life a gathering of family and friends will be held on June 16, 2018 in Woodridge, IL. The family requests that donations be made to the charity of your choice.

Wanda L. Nelson

Wanda L. Nelson, born Wanda La Vaughn Wolfe, passed away on January 30, 2018 at the age of 94. A longtime resident of Great Bend, Kansas, Wanda has spent the last several years in Goodyear, AZ close to her daughter Nikki and husband Lionel.

Wanda was born November 24, 1923 in Buhl, Idaho to Horace and Bertha (Kerr) Wolfe. Wanda moved to Glenwood Springs, Colorado as a child and spent her youth there. After her marriage to her childhood sweetheart Joe Wickman ended, she moved to Kansas. She resided in Great Bend, Kansas in 1956 with her husband John Nelson (who preceded her in death) and lived there until moving to Arizona.

Wanda held the distinction of being the first person Sears & Roebuck hired upon opening their Great Bend store. She was the audit manager for thirty-five years until she retired. She was known for her good cooking, fun-loving personality and strong work ethic. She also enjoyed fishing and dancing and was an avid bowler. Through the years she traveled with her bowling teammates to many tournaments.

Wanda is survived by her three daughters who loved her and will miss her, Linda (Don-deceased) Swalander of Ruidoso, New Mexico; Nikki (Lionel) Clark of Goodyear, Arizona; Debra (Jerry) Jasnoski of El Cajon, California; as well as seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. A family memorial will be held at a later date in Colorado.

Kenneth M. Loesch

Kenneth M. Loesch passed away on January 27, 2018 surrounded by his loving family. Ken was born to Joseph and Edythe Loesch and lived a very full life. He was predeceased by his first wife, Maureen. He is survived by his loving wife of 45 years, Connie Loesch , his children Sean-Patrick Loesch of Chicago, IL, Deborah Kerns of The Villages, FL, Rosellen Murphy of Metuchen, NJ, Kenneth Loesch of Piscataway, NJ, Judith Giglia of Woodland Hills, CA and Eugene Loesch of Avondale, AZ, John Hayes of Marlboro, NY, Thomas Hayes of Kissimmee, FL and Cathy Downie of Glendale, AZ. He is also survived by 15 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.

Ken was a Navy veteran and a Pace University graduate. Born in Greenwich, CT , he had resided in Bronx, NY before moving his family to Metuchen, NJ. He was a longtime employee of Rutgers University and had retired to Sarasota, FL and later relocated to Pebble Creek in Goodyear, Arizona. He loved sports including dance skating in his early years and golf and squash. At the age of 79 he was still a force to be reckoned with on the squash court.

In his most recent months he surprised us with his talent for singing Frank Sinatra tunes.

He was the most gentle soul with a heart of gold. He touched the lives of so many and his legacy will live on forever. He was loved by all and always shared his love with everyone he knew. He lit up a room with his warm smile and wit which he shared to the end. He said he had a wonderful life, always tried to give back and had no regrets. He faced the end with courage, grace and serenity knowing he would be united with God our Father in heaven.

A Memorial Service will be held on Sunday, February 25, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. at Thompson Funeral Chapel, 926 S. Litchfield Rd., Goodyear, AZ. The family requests in lieu of flowers donations be sent to the people who gave such wonderful care to Ken and support to his wife and children in his time of need to Valiant Hospice, 637 S. 48th St., Tempe, AZ 85281.

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