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Sad passing of local icon, Helen Yunker

Always a lady of class and distinction.

Helen had a simple philosophy: “In helping and sharing with others, you multiply your own blessings many times.” Her blessings were multiplied over and over again.

One of Ventura’s premier philanthropists, arts supporters and political activists, Helen died at age 97 peacefully on July 28.

Born in Chicago in 1921, Helen came to California in 1948 at the age of 27. After 10 years in direct sales, Helen fulfilled her dream of living at the seashore when she moved to Ventura’s Pierpont Bay area in 1958. A realtor since 1971, she ultimately founded Helen Yunker Realty which still bears her name.

Her almost 60 years in Ventura is a virtual history of ongoing community engagement. She has been recognized over the years for her many contributions, by numerous service organizations in the areas of educational, medical, civic, youth, theater, arts, property rights and senior concerns. Ventura would not be the same without her enormous contributions.

Love of music played a major role in Helen’s life. She sang in the Our Lady of Assumption church choir until the very end. She has entertained solo and with singing groups throughout her life at hospitals, jails, churches, ballets, etc. Her cameo appearances in the Nutcracker, by just walking on stage brought the house down.

Because her highlights and accomplishments would fill an entire page, we’ve listed just a few of them:

She sat on the Board of Ventura County Ballet Company (VCBC) and on the Ventura College Foundation Board.

1966: She co-produced “The First 100 Years in Ventura”, a centennial magazine celebrating and documenting the city’s founding in 1866.

1968: The Ventura County Board of Supervisors awarded her for leadership, as President of the Pierpont Bay Association, for leading the adoption of the Pierpont Improvement District.

1970: Helen led the first grandfathering program in Ventura, for the Pierpont area. Adopted by the City in 1977.

2003: The Ventura County Board of Realtors awarded Helen a special Inspiration Award for her dedicated efforts to protect Individual property rights.

2007: The Girl Scouts named Helen “Woman of Distinction”.

2008: The Ventura County American Red Cross awarded Helen the Clara Barton Award for her work dating back to the 60’s when, she played an active part in support services for our troops.

2008: The National Assn. of Community Colleges awarded Helen the “Benefactor of the Year Award” in Washington, D.C for raising $600,000 to equip the new math/science building at Ventura Community College.

In 2010 The City of Ventura awarded Helen the Mayor’s Arts Patron Award.

The Rubicon Theater’s performance hall displays her name in recognition of her donations and support of the theater. As is the Ventura College auditorium.

On her 95th birthday, a celebration was held for her at the Museum of Ventura County. At the celebration, the Helen Yunker Lobby was dedicated to her.

At the celebration she stated, “An institution of this importance and magnitude needs financial giving from the entire community that it serves. I hope you will step up and join me and know you are helping to preserve our past and ensure the future of our museum.”

When her portrait was painted by Johanna Spinks as part of The Face of Ventura portrait series in the Ventura Breeze Helen stated, “Having grown up in Chicago, Ventura, with its 25,000 population in 1958, its climate, location and overall ambiance, was a true panacea and fertile ground for my life’s goals. Today, after 54 years of service, my greatest blessing is the thanks and recognition I receive, also fully aware of my intense struggles, as well as accomplishments. Where else, but in Ventura, can one be embraced like a family member, and be gifted a feeling of belonging?”

She appeared before the City Council over 100 times to “discuss” the problems with the slope erosion on city property next to her home, and always began by introducing herself. Eventually, the city paid to have the slope repaired.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on August 10 at Our Lady of the Assumption Church followed by interment at Ivy Lawn Memorial Park.

She’ll be missed.

VACE has 50-year celebration.

More than 400 attended the reunion.

On Saturday, August 11th, Ventura Adult and Continuing Education (VACE) celebrated its 50th Anniversary of providing Lifelong Learning to the community at the main campus on Valentine Road. In the past fifty years, VACE has offered adult education and training in over 150 locations throughout Ventura.

More than 400 attended the reunion, including past and present students, instructors, staff, VUSD administrators and School Board members, and honored guests.

“It is so wonderful to see our entire VACE Family together again,” exclaimed Director/Principal Carolyn Vang-Walker who welcomed the happy crowd. “Today, we are celebrating five decades of history together!”

Highlights of the special event included a chronological retrospective from 1968-2018 featuring numerous awards, archival photo albums, historical facts, course catalogs, and a very entertaining PowerPoint presentation of 2000+ Faces of VACE. Over the years, beloved VACE historian Barbara Dunmire had carefully compiled and archived thousands of artifacts that were on display. Attendees enjoyed reconnecting with former colleagues, teachers celebrated their students’ successes, and alumni reminisced about individuals who had made a positive impact on their lives. They posted favorite VACE memories on a Memory Wall.

Visitors strolled through the innovative 3D printer lab in the AutoCAD classroom, and then explored film projects currently in production at TDC Studios. Students enrolled in the Medical Assistant program were available during the day to conduct free blood pressure readings and health screenings. Attendees also toured through the career technical education (CTE) classrooms. An award-winning school, VACE boasts a 90% job placement rate for its graduates who have completed training and been awarded certification in the following career pathways: 3D Design and Drafting, Business Administration, Computerized Accounting, Front and Back Office Medical Assisting, Pharmacy Technician, Computer Network Support and Security, Graphics and Web Design, and Digital Multimedia/Studio Production.

Everyone enjoyed a delicious lunch of barbecued chicken and tri-tip catered by the new StoneFire Grill.

The next event scheduled to commemorate VACE’s 50th Anniversary will be a Fall Open House. If you are interested in learning more about VACE, or would like to schedule a tour, please call (805) 289-1744.

Ventura Police honor 40th anniversary of officer’s death

Officers, staff, friends and family honored officer Dowell.

On Monday, August 7, 1978, Sergeant Darlon “Dee” Dowell became the only Ventura Police Officer killed in the line of duty.

On August 6, four men tried to rob a businessman making a night deposit at the Bank of America on Victoria Avenue. The robbery was interrupted, and the four suspects fled; two were apprehended immediately but two men, 20 and 22-years-old, escaped.

The next day a team of seven Ventura police officers served arrest and search warrants on the two outstanding suspects. Sergeant Dowell, Detective Don Bales, Detective Carl Handy, and Officer Gary McCaskill approached the front door of the suspects’ house on Olive while Sergeant Art “A. J.” Farrar, Detective John Leach, and Officer Don Arth set up a perimeter around the residence. Officers entered the home and were detaining a suspect in the living room when a 22-year-old man fired a shotgun from a darkened hallway, fatally wounding Sergeant Dowell. The shooter then ran through the house, crashed through a rear window, and was shot and killed by pursuing officers.

At the time of his death, Sergeant Dowell, 32, was a nine-year veteran of the Ventura Police Department. He is remembered as a dedicated police officer, devoted husband, and loving father to his two young children.

The City of San Buenaventura named Dowell Drive, the location of police headquarters, in Sergeant Dowell’s honor in 1979.

On August 7, 2018 Sergeant Dowell’s Family, retired Ventura Police Personnel, Ventura Police Officers and Civilian Staff held a ceremony at Ivy Lawn in honor of Sergeant Dowell’s life.

A scholarship set up in honor of Sergeant Dowell by the Ventura Police Officers Association has awarded over $100,000 to local students.

Former Ventura Chief of Police and current Councilmember Mike Tracy told the large gathering “today we take time to remember Ventura police sergeant Darlon Dowell. Dee was my first sergeant afterI graduated from the academy. He was a new sergeant, loved being a cop and was truly dedicated to the Ventura Police Department. He was good to work with and for—respected for his work ethic and sense of fairness. “

“When I walk into city hall I always glance at the photo of Dee that hangs on the wall near the human resources department—a tribute to his service and sacrifice. And every time I’m reminded how young he was—32. He had his whole life and career in front of him.”

“For his wife Miki and their family the tragedy of august 7, 1978, changed their lives forever. That day also significantly impacted those who were with Sergeant Dowell, and all who worked to investigate the crime and deal with the aftermath.”

“I believe Dee would want us to take this moment to honor and respect the men and women of the VPD who today serve this community just as he did—out of a sincere desire to make a difference in the lives of other people.”

“So today we remember Dee Dowell—a husband, father, friend and fellow police officer—and remind all who serve and protect to be vigilant, safe, and prepared. “

Quote from a Ventura Police Officer’s Association t-shirt:

It’s the line between order and anarchy, normalcy and horror, life and death, that street cops cruise every day. Each time you enter a strange house or approach a suspicious vehicle or walk up to a potential suspect, you risk crossing over into a place where no one is paid enough to be.

To learn more about scholarship opportunities visit

Visit Fillmore and Santa Paula while riding on vintage “movie trains!”

Fillmore & Western’s mission is to preserve and offer a unique part of American heritage. Photo by Nicholas Martinez

Fillmore & Western Railway has announced two new train excursions this summer.  Enjoy the “Hot August Nights – Beer, Wine & Blues Train” departing from Fillmore’s Train Depot.  Then on Labor Day weekend enjoy Fillmore & Western’s “Return to Santa Paula” with 1-hour antique steam engine train rides, for the first time, out of Santa Paula’s historic train depot.

Hot August Nights is an exciting new train that offers beer tasting from Santa Clarita’s Wolf Creek Brewery and wine + hard cider tasting from Reyes Winery. Appetizers are available for pairing and can be purchased while onboard.  Passengers also have the opportunity to dance & mingle on beautifully lit outdoor flatcars while a live band performs into the night.  The last chance to try this popular new excursion is on Aug 24th & 25th.

Return to Santa Paula is a celebration of Fillmore & Western’s arrival back at Santa Paula’s historic 1887 Southern Pacific Railroad Depot after over a year. Thanks to the Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce the railroad will be open for business at the Santa Paula Depot and are running one hour train rides with their 1913 2-8-0 Consolidation steam engine built by Baldwin Locomotive Works.  1-hour rides will be offered 3 times a day on Sept 1st & 2nd from the Santa Paula Depot.  On Sept 3rd a special vintage diesel train ride will depart from Fillmore at 8:30 am and head to Santa Paula for passengers to see their traditional Labor Day Parade or visit the Ventura County Agricultural Museum Tractor Festival.

Marketing Director & Webmaster, Josh Carsman shared that “Fillmore & Western’s mission is to preserve and offer a unique part of American heritage for all generations to enjoy. So many train adventures to choose from all year long. Its step back in time riding on vintage passenger and dining cars through the scenic Santa Clara River Valley (aka Heritage Valley).  Not more then 30 – 40 minutes from Ventura on Hwy 126.”

Visit for information or call 805-524-2546

Well-known restaurant owner dies

A nice memorial has been set-up outside the site of the restaurant.

Chingchai “Chang” Liampetchakul, former owner of Tipps Thai Cuisine has passed on at age 60.

Chang’s life has taken a turn for the worse the last several years.

In Feb., 2017 Chang Liampetchakul suffered a stroke while at the restaurant. He was cooking up some ribs for Super Bowl, when some friends came to pick him up. When they arrived he crawled to the front door to unlock it. Tipps was one of Ventura County’s first Thai restaurants when it opened at 512 E. Main St.

After his stroke Tipps restaurant closed its doors after serving Thai food to Ventura locals and visitors since 1983. The lovable Chang was a kind and generous person, often providing trays of food to families in need and always ready with a great yarn.

In April, 2017 a fire erupted in the two story portion of the building on Main St. which housed Tipps on the ground floor and the Odd Fellows on the top floor.

Ventura Fire and Ventura Police investigated and found evidence that pointed to Liampetchakul as having started the fire. On May 10, 2017, Liampetchakul was arrested on suspicion of arson in connection with the fire. A motive was never determined. His case was still pending.

Funeral services will take place at 1 p.m. Aug. 18 at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles.

Vietnam Memorial Hosted at Ventura County Government Center

Vietnam vet Bruce Lockhart points out names of 3 of his friends.

by Richard Lieberman

A half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. was setup next to the Ventura County Government Center at the corner of Victoria Avenue and Telephone Road in Ventura. The replica wall was illuminated at night and the wall was available to all visitors around the clock.

The replica wall has visited Ventura County seven times in the past 33 years. This past July marked the third time it has been hosted at the Ventura County Government Center.

Joseph Richardson, a founding member of the Vietnam Vets of Ventura County invited the public to “Come, Honor, Remember and Respect” he said. Richardson started his work with the replica monument in 1985 during its first visit to Ventura. “One of the things we really tried this year we took the Department of Defense listing of 111 casualties from Ventura, we created a brochure with their names on it, by city, alphabetical and by town, so there are 72 panels that have Ventura County casualties and their name and line number right there on the wall” added Richardson. Drafted into the Marine Corps in 1966 Richardson served 18 months in Vietnam.

VEP announces availability of $100,000 in grants for VUSD classrooms

Students learning at the farm.

Over the past 10 years, Ventura Education Partnership (VEP) has given over one million dollars to provide small grants to Ventura Unified School District teachers that make a big impact on learning. VEPGrants have touched every child in VUSD, and have a long-lasting impact on learning by incentivizing innovation in the classroom and incubating new programs district-wide.

Madhu Bajaj, President of the all-volunteer Ventura Education Partnership believes “VEPGrants is a powerful way for the community to support teachers and students because of the impact on increased student engagement and learning. Our teachers are amazingly resourceful. They bring innovation to their classroom on very limited budgets.”

“It is an honor and privilege for Ventura Education Partnership to serve the Ventura Unified School District community by offering VEPGrants. And, it’s exciting to share that this fall we will give over $100,000 in grants for the 2018/19 school year thanks to generous community members and businesses who support our youth, teachers and schools,” Bajaj said. Mountains 2 Beach Marathon, Aera Energy, Community Memorial Healthy System, MJP Technologies, Rotary Club of Ventura and many others make VEPGrants possible.

Recent Grant Recipient and VUSD Farm to School Operations Specialist, Chris Massa said of his grant, “The grant I received was literally the ‘seed’ money that allowed me to grow my program. It allowed me to buy tools, fruit trees, and seeds for my school farm.”

Cabrillo Middle School Principal, Lorelle Dawes shared that “my VEPGrant allowed me to work with our students and renowned artist M.B. Hanrahan to create a mural that will enhance our entire school. It’s been a beautiful process, and I am incredibly grateful to VEP for their support!”

Monica Lukins, Teacher at De Anza Middle School said “VEPGrants equipped me with necessary supplies that allow me to make history come alive in my classroom—from reenacting the Renaissance, traveling the trans-Saharan trade routes, and replicating Chinese inventions. ”

David Creswell, Superintendent, Ventura Unified School District said “Ventura Education Partnership (VEP) does so much to support education, encourage innovation and enrich the lives of literally all of our students. They are a catalyst for pulling us all together. VEP continues to make a huge impact on our schools and community, and I believe that this impact cannot be underestimated.”

For application information or to support VEPGrants with a donation visit or contact Madhu Bajaj (805) 754-9861.

Vol. 11, No. 23 – Aug 15 – Aug 28, 2018 – Police Reports

by Cindy Summers

Police reports are provided to us by the Ventura  Police Department and are not the opinions of  the Ventura Breeze. All suspects mentioned  are assumed to be innocent until proven guilty  in a court of law.

Do you know this crook?

Robbery, Theft

On August 4, at approximately 3:15pm, the Ventura Police Command Center received a 911 call of a Robbery that had just occurred at the Lowe’s shopping center. As officers arrived, they were informed that as the suspect was leaving the store he activated the store security system. A store employee went to contact the suspect and when he did the suspect brandished a knife to the employee. The employee smartly allowed the suspect to leave the store and called the police department.

During a search of the area, witnesses told officers that the suspect was last seen in the parking lot of Pacific View Mall. Officers searched the parking lot however they were unable to locate the suspect. The officers contacted Mall security to see if their security cameras had recorded the suspect in the area. Mall security officers informed the officers that the suspect had committed a theft from Target . They said the suspect was last seen running from Target.

At approximately 5:30pm, the Ventura Police Command Center received a 911 call of the same suspect attempting to enter occupied vehicles in the intersection of Mills and Maple. The driver of one of the vehicles pulled over while calling 911 and the suspect began to approach him. The driver asked the suspect what was going on and the suspect threw one of the items stolen from Lowes at the driver and then brandished a knife. The suspect then ran away. A search of the area including the use of a K9 was unsuccessful.

Arson Arrest

On July 18, at approximately 10:30am, the Ventura Fire Department responded to a structure fire at a residence in the 7000 block of Brannan Street. Their investigation determined the cause of the fire was arson. Ventura Police Major Crime’s detectives assisted with the investigation and determined 60 year old Ventura resident Katherine Britigan was responsible for starting the fire. On July 26, at 5pm, patrol officers located Britigan and she was taken into custody. At the conclusion of the investigation, she was booked into Ventura County Jail on the felony charge of arson.

Indecent Exposure and Parole Violation Arrest

On July 27, at approximately 5:45pm, officers responded to a call regarding a male committing lewd conduct adjacent to the businesses in the 1100 block of South Victoria Avenue. The suspect had fled prior to officers arrival, and after a searching the area, the officers were unable to locate the suspect.

At approximately 7:45pm, the Ventura Police Communications Center received information that a parolee, 51 year old vagrant Steven Perry, had just cut off his ankle monitor in the 1400 block of South Victoria Avenue. Officers checked the area and located Perry and took him into custody for the parole violation of removing the ankle monitor. Perry, who is on parole for Indecent Exposure, matched the description of the suspect from the earlier lewd conduct call in the 1100 block of South Victoria Avenue. At the conclusion of the investigation, officers determined he was the suspect from the earlier incident. He was booked into Ventura County Jail on the charges of Indecent Exposure and a Parole Violation.

Brandishing an Imitation Firearm, Violently Resisting Officers, Battery on a Police K9 and Possession of Methamphetamine Arrest

On August 8, at approximately 11:45pm, a witness called and reported a disturbance in the 2100 block of Harbor Blvd. The suspect was yelling at passing vehicles and people in the area. When the first officer arrived, they found the suspect, 35 year old Ventura resident Guadalupe Juarez Lopez,and discovered she was holding a handgun. She was waiving and brandishing the gun and was uncooperative with the officers verbal instructions. Additional officers arrived on scene and contained the suspect in a parking lot.

The suspect retreated from officers and hid near a large propane tank in the parking lot and remained uncooperative with officers as they attempted to get her to drop the hand gun. After 20 minutes of talking with the suspect, she still refused to disarm, and she threatened to shoot the nearby propane tank. At that point, officers used a less lethal projectile in an attempt to disarm the suspect and prevent her from shooting the propane tank. The K9 was also deployed. The less lethal rounds were effective, causing the suspect to fall to the ground. The K9 then apprehended the suspect, and she began battering the K9. After briefly fighting and resisting the K9, the suspect was taken into custody. As officers were approaching the suspect during the K9 apprehension, they discovered the hand gun she was holding was a BB gun.

The suspect sustained minor injuries during the incident. After she was medically cleared at the Ventura County Medical Center, she was booked into Ventura County Jail on the charges of Brandishing an Imitation Firearm, Violently Resisting Officers, Battery on a Police K9 and Possession of Methamphetamine.

Fatal Hit and Run Investigation

On August 10, at 8:37 pm, the Ventura Police Command Center received a call of a hit and run collision that just occurred at Ventura Ave and Prospect. As officers arrived on scene, they learned from witnesses that the victim Michael Pedigo, walked between two parked cars and into the northbound lane of traffic on Ventura Avenue. A white four-door vehicle driving northbound struck Pedigo and immediately pulled over to the side of the road. Without checking on the well being of Pedigo, the driver and car left the scene. Paramedics from Ventura City Fire and AMR who also responded administered first aid to Mr. Pedigo, and transported him to VCMC.

Pedigo succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead at the hospital. This is an ongoing investigation, and anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the investigating officer Corporal Al Gomez at 805-339-4474.

Vol. 11, No. 23 – Aug 15 – Aug 28, 2018 – Person to Person

Person to (Little) Person
by Jennifer Tipton

I asked several of our younger Venturans, ages 3–9, “What is your favorite thing at the fair?”

Annabelle Eckert
age 5
“I like the carnival games, especially the Balloon Water Race and I like every ride! My favorite fair food is a hotdog!”



Tom Eckert
age 9
“I like the Tilt-A-Whirl, it doesn’t even make me dizzy, and my second favorite is The Storm, it goes round and round really fast! I like cotton candy and caramel apples with peanuts!”


Henry Kantor
age 9
“My favorite thing to do at the fair is probably go on rides and play carnival games, but if I had one choice, I would probably pick go on rides. My favorite ride would probably be Wacky Worm, it’s also known as The Caterpillar, it’s pretty much a ride that goes up, there’s bumps and you tilt sideways, it goes around 3 times but sometimes they forget to stop it, like happened to me today, I went around 6 times! I also can’t wait to get an Icee!”

Elijah Morales
age 3
“I like to win fish, today I had 5 tries – that’s a lot! I like the roller coaster and my favorite fair food is yogurt.”
I had to ask, “yogurt at the fair?”
Elijah’s mom smiled, “lemonade and corn dogs” and Elijah jumped up in agreement.

Ayleen Morales
age 8
“I like to play games like The Kiddie Summer Boats and ride The Tornado, it’s not scary but do I like scary rides! My favorite fair food is pepperoni pizza!”


Bianca Topliss
age 3
“I like to go on rides, especially the Carousel and the Pirate.” (a play area) “My brother who’s 6 can help me but I can go across the rope bridge all by myself! I also like the chicken nuggets and ice cream.”


Ariella Coady
age 6
“I like everything! I like to be way up high on top of the Ferris wheel and all the games. I mostly like the corn dogs and lemonade!”
Riley Coady
age 4
“I like the dinosaur T Rex when you first come in, it’s huge! It’s not scary cause I like dinosaurs, I watch all the Jurassic movies! I am scared of the Ferris wheel cause it’ll make me dizzy! I like the fish tacos!” (kid after my own heart)