Obituary – Donna Jean Barstad

Donna Jean Barstad, 84, of Duarte was welcomed into heaven by Jesus Christ on the morning of Sunday, Jan. 5. A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 2 p.m. with a reception following at La Cañada Presbyterian Church.
Donna Jean Bernet was born on July 26, 1935, to Oliver and Ella (Hankins) Bernet on the family farm near Sodtown, Nebraska, which was homesteaded by her grandfather. She attended a country school with her older sister Delores and younger brother Darrel. Donna graduated from Ravenna High School in 1953.
Donna was the first in her family to graduate from college. She pledged Delta Gamma at the University of Nebraska and graduated in 1958 with an education degree.
While teaching elementary school in Palo Alto, California, she met Jon Barstad, a graduate student at Stanford University. Donna was an attractive, fashionable bride on her wedding day at First Presbyterian Church of Grand Island, Nebraska, on July 1, 1961.
Donna, an adaptable and energetic mother, moved five times with Jon, while welcoming Jon Jr. in 1962 in Maryland and Amy in 1965 in Ohio. Donna quickly made friends and regularly returned to the family farm near Ravenna, Nebraska.
Donna was a sacrificially devoted and faithful wife, mother and grandmother. After settling in La Cañada Flintridge for 40 years, from 1976-2016, she continued to use her education gift as a substitute teacher, tutor and Descanso Gardens guide. Simo, their high school exchange student from Finland, was lovingly accepted as part of the family.
Donna enjoyed many activities with her family, including beach trips, walking, camping, skiing and traveling internationally. The family traveled through Europe in 1978. Donna and Jon also visited Jon Jr.’s family in Switzerland, Afghanistan, Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia. Donna also toured Russia, Greece and Turkey. They regularly visited Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Cody, Wyoming, to visit her kids and grandkids.
Donna admitted she was powerless and turned her life over to God. She confessed her defects to God and made amends to people wherever possible. She carried this life-giving message to others.
She was a faithful member of the LCPC Voyager couples group since 1976, in addition to Assistance League of Flintridge, Delta Gamma alumnae and PEO associations.
There was always a seat at Donna’s table. She was a wonderful hostess, and her home was always open to her family, friends, students and church groups.
Donna was quick to smile, a classy dresser and welcoming host with a beautiful soul and kind heart. Her love for her life and her family were inspiring.
Donna will be missed by her husband, Jon D. Barstad, of almost 59 years; son Jon and Gabriela, grandsons Lars (20) and Johan (18) Barstad of Colorado Springs; daughter Amy and Mark, grandsons William (14) and Wesley (10) Law of Cody, Wyoming; younger brother Darrel and Linda, niece Kim Mustain and nephew Brad Bernet of Overland Park, Kansas.
In lieu of flowers, Donna would be pleased if you donated to La Cañada Presbyterian Voyager Cargo Fund, 626 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada Flintridge, California 91011, or to PEO Foundation, 3700 Grand Ave., Des Moines, Iowa 50312.

Obituary – Phil Lengyel

Philip Edwin “Phil” Lengyel, beloved husband and father, passed away on Dec. 15 from cardiac arrest at the age of 70. His family was by his side.
Born in Hammond, Indiana, in 1949 to Arlene and Bill Lengyel, Phil grew up in East Chicago, Indiana. He attended Our Lady of the Lake Seminary and Munster High School. Phil received a bachelor’s degree in radio and television from Ball State University, where he also became a brother of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity.
After college, Phil began a career in television and radio news as a journalist. He joined the Walt Disney Co. in 1982 as a senior publicist. Over the next 23 years, he worked in Disney Parks & Resorts Marketing as promotions manager and moved up the ladder to become senior vice president of marketing. He was later named senior vice president of sports and vice president of alliance development for Disney Parks & Resorts Worldwide.
Josh D’Amaro, president of Walt Disney World Resort, said, “From Raglan Road to our golf courses, this place is filled with Phil’s memory, and his fingerprints are all over the work that made us what we are today. Phil was an astounding individual, and we are heartbroken over his loss.”
Former Disney Chairman and CEO Michael Eisner stated, “Phil was brilliant in business development and the marketing group at Walt Disney World. He was polite and aggressive at the same time. He did things his way and got them done. Phil was one of the funniest, kindest, decent and most caring people on the planet, with an outsized heart to match his personality.”
Phil retired from Disney in 2005 and filled a newly created position of executive vice president and chief marketing officer of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which hosts the largest spectator sporting event in the world, the Indy 500.
Phil and his family relocated to California in 2011 where he joined Dick Cook Studios. Cook, chairman and CEO of Dick Cook Studios and former chairman of the Walt Disney Studios, commented, “Phil was an extremely creative marketer with brilliant ideas that he brought to life. But more importantly, Phil was a true gentleman in every sense of the word. He was kind and giving, as funny as funny can be, full of adventure, and dedicated to his family and friends.”
Phil enjoyed college football, especially the Fighting Irish. Legendary Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz said, “Phil was a very genuine individual and a very caring person. I cannot think of a better role model for people to emulate than Phil Lengyel. While Phil is no longer with us, his spirit will continue to infill those of us who knew him.”
Another favorite pastime of Phil’s was golfing, especially at the Annual Irish Invitational. He was also passionate about well-told stories, especially great books and movies. He loved preparing special meals — “repasts” — to share with his family; he was an amazing cook. Phil was a wonderful husband, father and friend and will forever be dearly loved by many.
Phil is survived by his loving wife of 25 years, Jana; their two children Lauren and Shane; from a previous marriage, Will (Chrisdin); Kelly (Jason); grandchildren Tony, Alani, Aiden and Addison; brother Michael, sisters Nancy and Kathy; and other family and friends all across the globe. Phil was a member of St. Bede the Venerable Catholic Church.
In honor of Phil, donations can be made to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Per his wishes, Phil didn’t want any fanfare but would be pleased if a glass of Irish whiskey was raised in his memory. Sláinte, Phil!
Eternal memory and blessed repose.

Obituary: Michael M. Wong

Michael M. Wong
Michael M. Wong

Michael M. Wong, aka Mike Wong, passed away in Shinjuku, Japan, on Nov. 28, at the age of 52 while traveling with his family. He leaves his wife and two sons.
There is a lot more to Mike’s legacy, the circumstances and cause of death that we have yet to learn. In the absence of any known funeral services, we are building a “virtual tribute” with multiple online resources to honor and remember Mike. Continue reading “Obituary: Michael M. Wong”

Obituary: Steve Keh

Steve Keh
Steve Keh

Steve Keh, 64, passed away from natural causes on Thursday, Dec. 26, at his home in Burbank. He was born on Sept. 5, 1955, in Santa Monica to Edward and Martha Keh. He graduated from University High School in 1973 and received his B.S. in chemistry from UCLA in 1977. Steve went on to a successful career in commercial real estate before joining his parents in the family business, Healthcare Management Services, a pioneering developer of retirement and post-acute care centers. Headquartered in Glendale, Healthcare Management Services continues to provide necessary support to a truly underserved market. For the last 30 years, Steve was pivotal in helping the family business grow to nine facilities throughout California. Both in business and in his personal life, Steve was always loyal, hard-working, generous and dedicated to giving his best at everything he did. Continue reading “Obituary: Steve Keh”

Obituary: John Lawrence (Larry) Stone

John Lawrence (Larry) Stone
John Lawrence (Larry) Stone

Larry passed away peacefully at home surrounded by family, on New Year’s Day 2020.
Larry was born April 2, 1932, in Bakersfield to loving parents Bruce and Louise Stone. He graduated from Flintridge Prep in 1950 and then attended USC, graduating in 1954. There he met his wife and the love of his life, Nancy Humason. Larry was very proud to have been a yell-leader for the USC Trojans and was a lifelong fan of his alma mater. He was a member through his college years — and an active adviser for decades — of the Beta Theta Phi fraternity at USC. Continue reading “Obituary: John Lawrence (Larry) Stone”

Obituary: Margaret Reeves Jones

Peggy and Art Jones
Peggy and Art Jones

Margaret (Peggy) Reeves Jones passed away peacefully, surrounded by family, on Monday, Dec. 16. Peggy was a wonderful and devoted daughter, wife, mother and grandmother who was deeply loved by her family and will be greatly missed. Peggy was born on June 24, 1931, in Glendale, where she spent most of her life. She attended R. D. White Elementary School, Woodrow Wilson Junior High School and graduated from Glendale High School in 1949. Peggy next attended the University of Arizona, where she was a member of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority and earned a Bachelor of Arts in education. Continue reading “Obituary: Margaret Reeves Jones”

Obituary: Nina Benedik Thomas

Nina Benedik Thomas
Nina Benedik Thomas

Nina Benedik Thomas died peacefully at home on Monday, Nov. 18, surrounded by her family. She had been living with cancer for more than five years and had continued to live an inspiringly active and satisfying life throughout. She loved her family, yoga, gardening and the wilderness, and was an avid skier and outdoorswoman.
Nina was born in Zagreb, Croatia, to Victor and Vera Benedik in 1946 after her father survived the Holocaust. She and her husband, Duncan, were married in Philadelphia and celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in August 2019. They met at McGill University in 1969 and were married in Philadelphia soon after. They hitchhiked to Fairbanks, Alaska, for a honeymoon that lasted two years, while they lived in a log cabin that they built themselves. Following the first of several round-the-world trips, they settled in Montreal, where she gave birth to her two oldest sons, Wilder and Dave. She obtained her teaching certificate from McGill and taught in the French public-school system. Continue reading “Obituary: Nina Benedik Thomas”

Obituary: Susan Marie Cox Valley Stauffer

Susan Marie Cox Valley Stauffer
Susan Marie Cox Valley Stauffer

Susan Marie Cox Valley Stauffer, 79, loving wife, mother, sister, grandmother and friend to many, sadly passed away on Wednesday, Nov. 20, at her home in La Cañada Flintridge.
Born June 11, 1940, to the late Wyman Morrell Cox and Frances (Emerson) Cox, Sue was raised with her sister Constance Jean on a horse ranch in eastern Washington and graduated from Clarkston High School, class of ’57. After graduation, she was crowned Miss Rodeo of America 1958. Sue remained an active supporter of the Miss Rodeo Association and served on the national board. Sue was also a volunteer and docent at the Autry Museum of the American West in Burbank, where her Miss Rodeo wardrobe is in the permanent collection. Continue reading “Obituary: Susan Marie Cox Valley Stauffer”

Obituary: Floyd Anthony Ventress

Dr. Floyd Anthony Ventress
Dr. Floyd Anthony Ventress

Dr. Floyd Anthony Ventress, 89, of La Cañada Flintridge passed away peacefully on Thursday, Nov. 28, at Santa Teresita Manor, with his family by his side. He is survived by his loving wife of 68 years, Joan Louise Castellani; their five children: Michael (Rebecca) Ventress, Denise (William) Bowles, Dale Ventress, Kerry Ventress and Jonathan (Norma) Ventress; three beloved grandchildren: Kathryn Ventress, Shannon Ventress, and Kellie Ventress; his brother Milton Louis Ventress; and many nieces and nephews.
Floyd was born on Dec. 28, 1929, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to Joseph Roy Ventress and Gertrude Noelie Sigur. Continue reading “Obituary: Floyd Anthony Ventress”

Obituary: Irv Noren

Irv Noren
Irv Noren

Irv Noren, a Pasadena native who won five World Series rings, three with the storied New York Yankee teams of the 1950s, died earlier this month at his home in San Diego. He was 94.
Noren’s family moved to Pasadena during the 1930s. They founded Noren’s Hillcrest Swedish Bakery in Altadena. Noren became an outstanding baseball and basketball player, starring at Pasadena Junior College (now Pasadena City College) before serving in the Army and signing a professional baseball contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Although he starred in the minor leagues, winning most valuable player awards in both the Texas League and the Pacific Coast League, Noren never made the talent-rich Brooklyn lineup. Continue reading “Obituary: Irv Noren”