Category Archives: Obituaries

Shawn McCarthy

Rest In peace Shawn.

On May 18th, Shawn McCarthy lost his long battle with cancer. He and wife Linda are franchise owners BNI Business Network. He would have been 64 in December.

Shawn never stopped smiling and reaching out to all that were in his presence. Being with him was a joy. He will be sorely missed by all that knew him.

Even in his last days he reached out to his many friends by sharing “No words can express the gratitude that I feel for the amount of support I’ve rec’d during this cancer journey. Way too many people to thank, so this will have to be enough. I have been truly humbled to hear how so many of you share that I have impacted your life…it was an honor and pleasure to do so. And you need to know that you’ve impacted my life even more. I’ve lived thru a really great life and marriage and I hope that inspired you too.”

Linda said “He has had the rare opportunity to live to see and hear his celebration of life…thanks for the multitude that helped contribute to it.”

CARL, and Ventura loses one of their best

Phyllis was animal advocate of the first order. For the past 2 1/2 years, and 5 years prior to that, Phyllis managed the CARL and Cat’s Cradle thrift store for no compensation, with all sales money donated to the above animal rescues. She was well known and respected in the rescue community and by store customers.

Phyllis Berger moved to Ventura County in the 90’s. The animal kingdom and rescue community at large are diminished by her death Feb. 26, 2018.

Phyllis invested her time, energy, and compassion in care for those unable to advocate for themselves. Her generosity also extended to the homeless.

Phyllis was a strong, independent woman, who lived life on her own terms. Often tough on the outside, but warm, caring, and generous on the inside. Our community is lessened by her absence.

Jeffrey Allan “Jeff” Suggs

Jeffrey Alan Suggs, 53, of Ventura, passed away on Friday, March 2 after a long struggle with cancer. Jeff was born in Los, Angeles, on March 24, 1964 to Russell L. Suggs and Barbara J. Suggs. He attended elementary and jr. high school in South Pasadena, CA and finished his education in Ventura, earning his GED.

He enjoyed surfing, fishing, motorcycling, and camping. He worked offshore and in local construction until disabled in a motorcycle accident. He is survived by his mother, Barbara Suggs, sister, Julie Powell and her husband Harold, nephew and niece Cooper and Lauren Powell, and many aunts, uncles and cousins. He was preceded in death by his father Russell Suggs and brother, Greg Suggs.

The family wishes to extend their appreciation to Assisted Home Health Care and Hospice in Ventura for their compassionate care, and to family and friends for their expressions of love. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 24 at 2:00 pm at The River Community Church, 889 E. Santa Clara St. In lieu of flowers, please donate to The City Center transitional living program in Ventura at

Arrangements are under the direction of the Joseph P. Reardon Funeral Home & Cremation Service, Ventura.

John Masterson (1935-2018)

John spent 18 years as a Trustee of the Community Memorial Hospital. He was Chairman of the Community Memorial Hospital Benefactors and an Executive Board member Community Memorial Health Care Foundation. John joined the staff of Community Memorial Hospital in 1992 as Vice President Community Relations. He remained for 25 years retiring at the age of 81.

His accomplishments were very many. These are just a very few of them.

He was President and Founding Member of the El Cien Dance Club and served on the Ventura Grand Jury in 1969. He was a founding member of the Ventura College foundation and was deeply involved with local school sports serving as President of the Ventura College Booster Club, Chairman of the Ventura County Stanford Buck club and founding member of the St Bonaventure Booster Club. He was a great supporter of the Ventura Boys and Girls club and he was a member of the Ventura Boy Scouts council.

John was also a published writer. He wrote a column for the Star Free Press “Wheels” section for 10 years winning “Best Business Column” from The L.A. Press Club in 1993. He was a member of the Greater Los Angeles Press Club and the Motor Press Guild and contributed pieces to various automotive publications. In addition, he wrote an occasional piece for the Santa Paula Times on the theater called “Masterson on Stage”. He was a Board member of the Santa Paula Theater Center.

John pursued his love of the theater, appearing on stage in over 25 productions in Ventura, Santa Paula and Camarillo. He was versatile – taking parts in musicals, drama and comedies. It didn’t matter if he was the lead or in the supporting cast.

John produced the weekly Western Automotive Consultant (WAC) report. He was Executive Director of the Ventura Auto Mall Dealers Association and spent 5 years on KVTA radio hosting “Auto-Talk” with Ross Olney as his partner.

Focus on the Masters mourns Dorothy Hunter

Dorothy Hunter
October 20, 1929 – January 30, 2018

Focus on the Masters mourns the death of extensively documented painter Dorothy Hunter. Often referred to as an abstract artist, Dorothy felt her work should more accurately be called abstract impressionism because the ideas and inspiration came from what she had seen and experienced.

Dorothy had intended to pursue a career in psychology, but marriage and a family altered that course. While rearing four children, she developed a studio practice of painting at night when all was quiet.

Dorothy exhibited in galleries on the East Coast, from Miami to Montreal. Her work was shown in the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian Museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Walters Museum. She was widely collected, and her work was included in the Federal Art in Embassies program.

She came to California in 1984 and joined Studio ’83, Buenaventura Art

Association, Artist’s Union, and Studio Channel Islands. She exhibited at the Carnegie Art Museum and the Museum of Ventura County.

In her later years, she continued to work on small canvasses, with a color palette that changed somewhat after cataract surgery.

Dorothy is survived by her sister, Nancy Roll, and four children; Sandy Hunter, Christie Otranto, Stuart Hunter, Kim Hunter Papaski and their families.

John Lunsford “Buck Fifty” 1954 – 2018

John was a talented blues/jazz musician and gospel singer.

John Lunsford “Buck Fifty”, an iconic local musician, passed away this month. John was the owner of Realizations Recording Studio and Rising Force Sound as well as a talented blues/jazz musician and gospel singer. Playing flute and harmonica while wailing the blues with local musicians was his passion. His studio was open to all and all were received with love, compassion, the occasional spiritual scripture reading, and even fed from the “homeless grill” in the parking lot.

He led the Battle of the Bands Ventura in the 90s; was a sound and lighting engineer at many local hot spots; and built stages for Ventura Theater, Oxnard College, and local production companies.  His presence was felt in this great town and his spirit will live on in the music he was a part of.

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.

Randolph Siple’s passing sentiments

Randolph Edward Siple, born June 5, 1933 in Glendale, California left this world on September 20, 2016.

It is with some regret that I tell you I have died, but with no regret that I have joined so many of my friends on the other side. Let me tell you a little about my life. Soon after my birth to a very liberal lady, I hit the decks a common sense conservative and a Renaissance man. (Such a person is restless in learning and studying and there is no end to it.) Because of a split family, I attended some thirteen elementary schools, two military schools, one junior high, and two high schools. No middle schools. I graduated from Stanford University in History and Political Science. Then ROTC sent me to Germany as a tank platoon leader. Once I was back stateside, I graduated from USC as a Doctor of Law. I practiced law in Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, and finally Ventura counties. I was both a prosecutor and a private attorney. I joined the Navy Reserve, as an officer in intelligence and retired from that service. At one time I led a law firm of eight lawyers and designed and built the office building known as Lincoln’s Inn in Ventura. When I came to believe progressives pushed the law business into an extortion racket, I quit and started several companies, developed raw land, built homes, etc. In the process, we ended up with several ranches and a brewery (Smoke Mountain) and winery (Rincon Mountain).

Somewhere along the line, I collected some 30 cars and restored many of them. I made ship models, learned to play some 13 or so musical instruments, including the Scottish pipes. With all this, I founded and led the Swing band named “The Society Big Band”. We played in most of the hotels in Ventura, Los Angeles and specially played aboard the Queen Mary and at Avalon for New Year’s Eve. Once my small band played under the wing of the Spruce Goose in Long Beach. For over 16 years my family and I have opened our ranch, above the Pacific, to New Orleans Jass and BBQ on the first Sunday of every month. No charge. It is the West Coast Traditional Jass Club. No! Jass is correct if you know your history. I have written the following books:

The most important events have been my family. I have three sons, Shaun, Edward Darren, and Tanner, and one daughter, Heather. My wife, Susan, has been my best friend and life’s partner. We have loved each other very much and still do.

Besides being in politics most of my life, the thing which I am very proud of is that I have had many business partners and they are all my friends. To do that, you must be honest, fair and always ready to help. Since this is my last opportunity to say so, I have concluded that every society is divided into three parts. One is left and dangerous, one is the middle and waffles back and forth, and one is to the right where all the common sense folks work and play. You know where I have been.

Personally, I would rather slip out the back door with a wave of my hand and a shout good-bye, but the family will want a day to remember. So be it. Keep a scotch and soda ready, I might come back!

A memorial service to celebrate the life of Randolph Siple will be held Sunday, October 23, 2016. Please visit for details. – See more at:

Vol. 10, No. 1 – October 12 – October 25, 2016 – Two On the Aisle

Jim’s interest in magic began at age 14.

R.I.P. Jim Spencer
by Shirley Lorraine

The seat on the aisle is now empty.  James (Jim) L. Spencer passed away at the age of 74 from a swiftly-moving inoperable brain tumor on Friday, September 30 with me, his wife of 26 years, Shirley Lorraine Spencer, at his side.

Jim was well known in many circles. His solo law practice focused on estates and corporations. He taught business law courses at Ventura College for nearly 40 years.  His interest in magic began at age 14 and continued to the present. His primary magic persona was that of Professor Tinker, a medicine show recreation of old west vintage. Although we often performed on the same bill, rarely did we actually perform together.  Our last stage performance as a duo outside of magic was a reading of “Love Letters” at the Camarillo Playhouse.

Together we co-authored Two On the Aisle, writing more than 400 theater reviews to date for the Ventura Breeze and the Ventura County Reporter over a span of more than 20 years. Jim liked to say that he wrote the vowels and I wrote the consonants because there were more of them.  His own years of performance as an actor and singer on local stages endeared him to many.  Jim and I met while performing with the Firelite Dinner Theater. The first Spencer/Lorraine Entertainment collaboration was a medieval dinner event fundraiser for Ventura County Master Chorale. Since 1988 we have been privileged to perform for and arrange entertainment for many charitable organizations and private parties from Ventura to Las Vegas.

An avid theater-goer, Jim was a major force behind creating and establishing the Ventura REP awards for recognizing local talent which has evolved into an unprecedented cooperation among Ventura County theaters.  This achievement was a source of great satisfaction, appealing to his relentless desire to cultivate, encourage and recognize the outstanding quality and amount of theatrical talent within Ventura County.  He truly treasured the connections, acquaintances and friendships made through the theater community.

Jim was a long-time member of Hollywood’s Magic Castle (Academy of Magical Arts), Downtown Rotary, the Salvation Army Advisory Board, Toastmasters International, Business Network International Network of Champions, the California Bar Association, advisory board for Ventura Improv Company, to name just a few.  In addition, he participated in and supported numerous arts and charitable organizations through the years.

A public memorial service will be held on Sunday, October 30 (the day before International Day of Magic) at 2 p.m. at Ted Mayr Funeral Home, 3150 Loma Vista Rd., Ventura. A reception may be held at a later date.

Jim would be pleased to have contributions made in his honor to a Ventura County theater of choice or to the Salvation Army, Ventura Corps.  Both are deserving causes for which he worked tirelessly and with passion.