In memoriam John Cressy

John Cressy with his dogs Baron, Dog and Whiddle near the mouth of “the raging Ventura River,” as John joked on Facebook.

The Ventura Breeze would like to honor the memory of John Cressy, who died recently after a courageous battle with metastatic cancer of the esophagus.

Cressy was a longtime friend of the Breeze. He spent his last 17 years as part of the team at Whisenhunt Communications. A consummate professional, Cressy insisted on continuing to work even as he grew weak from the disease and the battery of treatments he underwent to fight it. He was still sending us press releases the week before he died, on Sunday, Aug. 6.

“The last few years when he was battling cancer, John was simply amazing,” said Stan Whisenhunt, owner of Ventura-based Whisenhunt Communications. “He wanted to keep working and he did that right up to the end.”

Cressy was born June 16, 1953, in Hayward, California, the middle of nine children. He graduated high school in 1971 and in 1975 earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Humboldt State University. After working a year at Alameda Glass and Paint, he returned to Humboldt and in 1978 earned a degree in journalism.

A lifelong sports enthusiast, Cressy spent the next 22 years in newspaper journalism, primarily as a sports writer and editor, for the Arcata Union, the Santa Maria Times and the Ventura Star-Free Press. Starting as a sportswriter, Cressy went on to become a popular sports columnist at the Star-Free Press and in 1987, he was promoted to sports editor by then-managing editor Whisenhunt.

Cressy went on to work at the Ventura County Star and the Santa Barbara News-Press before leaving journalism in 2000, when he returned to work for Whisenhunt, who’d left journalism in the early ’90s to create his public relations firm.

In addition to his work as a writer and photographer for Whisenhunt, Cressy also taught writing skills at workshops for Custom Training. His personal passions revolved around his family and his love of sports and sports trivia. He also loved photography, hiking, the beach, classic movies and classic rock.

He died peacefully on Aug. 6 at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura, surrounded by loved ones.

He is survived by his wife, Kathleen; stepchildren Laura and Darren Mills; sisters Susan Verhees; Ann Zammattio (Duilio) of Italy; Peggy Figueira (Ray); brothers Danny, Steve, Bob and Brian Cressy (Rosalee); brothers-in-law Pat Williams and David Kimbrough; mother-in-law Suzanne Kimbrough and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. Other survivors include his faithful maltipoo Whiddle, who was at his side when he died, and his catnapping companions Rascal and Oscar Eddie.

A rare man of honor, heart, humility and humor, Cressy was a truly good person with a remarkable work ethic whose passing has left a huge hole in the lives of those who knew him and worked with him. We’re grateful to have had that privilege, and we’re grateful for all his service to journalism, particularly to us these past 10 years.

Cressy will be remembered by his large and loving family and loyal friends in a private memorial service. Donations may be made in his honor to the Humane Society of Ventura County.

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