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Sunday Obituaries

John (my Grandpa)

was born on March 3, 1914, in the small Washington town of Kalama, passed away March 7, 2002. His father, Robert C. W., was a young Stanford civil engineer, and his mother Ethol Nichol W., was the librarian in the town of Chehalis.

John came to Santa Barbara when he was approximately three years of age. His father had been offered a job by his friend, Ed Haskell, as assistant engineer on the construction of the Gibraltar Dam, on which project Ed Haskell was the senior engineer. For a time, John lived with his parents in a small cabin near the dam site. He and his parents got to Santa Barbara from their cabin by going through the tunnel on a small train. (This tunnel still exists at the top of Tunnel Road.)

John attended Santa Barbara schools, including Santa Barbara High School, and for a year attended Santa Barbara State College on the Riviera, which would later become the first campus of UCSB. He completed his undergraduate college education at the University of California at Berkeley during the Great Depression. Due to financial constraints he traveled to and from Berkeley by hitchhiking, and he contributed to the cost of his education by tending tables at fraternity and sorority houses, and by playing guitar in a college dance band.

After completing his undergraduate degree, he enrolled in Boalt Hall at Berkeley. Upon passing the state bar examination in 1940, he immediately returned to Santa Barbara and opened a law practice in the San Marcos Building. He recalled that for the first four or five days of his practice, he had no clients, received no telephone calls, and simply sat at his desk waiting for his first client. In 1941 he married Ellen Seymour, and their marriage continued over 49 years until Ellen's death in 1991.

John eventually established a legal partnership with Thomas H. Cornwall, with whom he practiced until his appointment as a Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge by Governor Edmund G. "Pat" Brown in late 1960. His tenure on the Bench was long and varied. Some of his most notable cases were the Bank of America arson trial after the Isla Vista riots of 1970; and the Golden Dragon Restaurant massacre in San Francisco, which was tried in Santa Barbara due to a change of venue. John retired from the Santa Barbara Superior Court in 1980.

He and Ellen had a mountain home on Figueroa Mountain which they built and moved to some years prior to John's retirement. John and Ellen spent many happy years on Figueroa Mountain, both before and after his retirement and until

Ellen's health forced them to move to Solvang. Following Ellen's death, John continued to reside in Solvang until his last brief illness.

John was always a great nature lover and was an avid hunter and fisherman. He fished many of the lakes and streams of the Eastern Sierra Nevada range, and for many years went to the Owens River area on the opening day of trout season with his good friends, Dr Walter Graham, Ralph Raddue, and Dr John McAdams. John was the last survivor of this group of dedicated fishermen. In his younger years John was an avid backpacker and hiked extensively in the back country of Santa Barbara and the Sierras. His love of sports included participating on the track and swimming teams while in college and regular attendance at the Cal-Stanford '`Big Game". He was also an avid San Francisco Giants baseball fan.

A prolific reader, particularly of all things relating to history, John was a student of the Civil War, read every book he could find on that subject, and visited most of the battlefields of the War. In his mid-life he was "bitten by the gold bug" and took up the hobby of gold mining in the California gold country. He was very proud of one large nugget which he found in his gold pan on one of these junkets. Also a music lover, John's tastes in music covered everything from Dixieland jazz to opera.

John was fortunate to have enjoyed excellent health to the very end of his life. He enjoyed a long, happy, and productive life, filled with friends and family. He is survived by his three children. He also leaves seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren, as well as a brother. His sister predeceased him.

At John's request, there will be no services, but the family will host a reception in remembrance of John for friends and colleagues of his and his family.

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