Influential San Diegans We Lost in 2018

We take a moment to remember those influential San Diegans we lost in 2018.

19 photos
NBC 7 San Diego
Ray Chavez, the oldest veteran survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor, died in November, peacefully in his sleep, his cousin told NBC 7. He was 106. Chavez served missions on a minesweeper and attack transport ship 77 years ago and responded to Pearl Harbor on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941. The best advice he ever received was from his parents: “To get as much education as you can and also to be kind to all people, especially the elderly and the less fortunate."
El Cajon Boulevard Business Improvement Association
Music historian Lou Curtiss, who died in July, left a lasting impression on the music scene in San Diego. He hosted 'Jazz Roots' for almost 30 years on KSDS and was a supporter of folk music and jazz who also served as a researcher and archivist for the Smithsonian Institution.
Andy Hayt/The San Diego Padres/Padres Productions
Kevin Towers, 56, once held the longest tenure of any general manager in the big leagues. In January 2018, Towers died after battling a rare form of thyroid cancer. He was GM of the Padres for 14 seasons before he was fired in 2009 as part of a front office house cleaning by new owner Jeff Moorad.
Ramona Ripston, 91, led the ACLU of Southern California for decades between the years of 1972 and 2011. She was remembered after her death in November as a "fierce and unrelenting opponent of injustice and oppression."
Getty Images
The longtime Chargers owner Alex Spanos died in October at the age of 95. Spanos and his wife were generous philanthropists, giving to many causes related to hospitals, universities and youth programs. "Alex Spanos lived the American Dream," former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said on Twitter. "His incredible story should inspire each and every one of us."
San Diego Comic-Con International
The president of San Diego Comic-Con International John Rogers died In November from complications of glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. He was first elected as president of Comic-Con in 1986 and saw the convention evolve in ways that no one thought were possible.
Facebook/C.S. Keys Fan Page
Sportscaster C.S. Keys worked at a number of media outlets in San Diego over the last two decades including KUSI News and CW 6 and the Mighty 1090. He was found dead in his La Mesa home in January.
William Casdorph died in September from injuries suffered after he fell from a highway overpass onto the ground below. He was “a dedicated public servant who worked to make our roads safer for nearly two decades,” Governor Jerry Brown said in a written statement. Casdorph worked for Caltrans for 19 years and was based in Kearny Mesa.
Cathy Clark, longtime NBC 7 San Diego news anchor and reporter died following a battle with cancer. Clark carved out a reputation as a sharp, aggressive journalist who was comfortable working any story.
John Harvey Serocki, 61, a doctor from Del Mar, was piloting a newer model single-engine plane from Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport when for unknown reasons the plane crashed into a building under construction near the intersection of Balboa Avenue and Ruffin Road in February. Remembered as a "superior person" by his brother, Serocki was an orthopedic surgeon who was also a member of Doctors Without Borders and traveled to Haiti after a devastating earthquake rocked the island in 2010.
Lasheba James
Retired Chief Steward Andrew Mills, posed for a photo with Sailors selected for advancement to chief petty officer. Mills died in May at the age of 103. One of the maritime branch's first black chiefs, Mills risked his life for the service despite facing discrimination in a then-segregated Navy. He served in the Navy as a steward on USS Yorktown (CV-5). In 1942, he was aboard USS Yorktown after it was attacked by the Japanese during the Battle of Midway.
Longtime San Diego weathercaster and founder of The Weather Channel, John Coleman, died in January at home in Las Vegas. Coleman was 83 years old.
Adam "Biff" D'Esposito, 39, went to Mexico Sept. 2 for a surfing vacation and to see his dad. A week later, he was found dead without identification by Mexican law enforcement officers. Authorities believe the big wave surfer from Carlsbad drowned.
Donna M. Stewart
Jane Clifford Mickler died in June 2018 from colon cancer. Known by many San Diegans as Jane Clifford, she worked for the San Diego Union-Tribune as editor of the Family Ties section and shared her thoughts on family and parenting in a column.
San Diego Padres
Don Welke, who began scouting for major league baseball with the Cincinnati Reds in 1965, was the Vice President of Scouting Operations for the San Diego Padres. He was described as "a legend in the baseball world" when he died in September.
Photo taken on Oct. 24, 2017 by
Vila, one of the world's oldest and most beloved gorillas at 69 died in January at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. "She was the matriarch of 5 generations," zoo officials said when announcing her death. Gorillas typically live to 35 or 40 years old.
Former San Diego television news anchor David Davis died in September in a motorcycle accident in Dallas while on a cross-country trip. Davis retired earlier this year after spending 15 years at KUSI as a reporter and anchor on both the morning and evening news.
Laura Embry/Union-Tribune, Courtesy of San Diego SPJ
Mel Shapiro, citizen activist was photographed at his home in Hillcrest by Laura Embry with the San Diego Union-Tribune. Shapiro has been described as one of California's most remarkable transparency watchdogs who took government officials to court (and won) to enforce open meeting laws. He died in November at 90 years old.
Courtesy of Erica Hanson
Audrey Geisel, the widow of Dr. Seuss creator Theodore Geisel, poses with the Cat In The Hat at a ceremony honoring the late children's book author with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on March 11, 2004. She passed away in December at the age of 97.
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