There were plenty of celebrations in 2017, but there also were a number of passings. Several prominent Long Beach residents died. Here are a few.
Ernie Kell, Long Beach’s first elected mayor, passed away in April. He was 88.
The former mayor served from 1988 to 1994 and eventually lost his bid for reelection to Beverly O' Neill, who praised Kell for "his honesty and leadership in providing stability during difficult times in the city he loved.”
Before becoming mayor, Kell earned his AA degree from Long Beach City College, worked for Western Detailing Services as an architectural draftsman and owned a few acres of vegetable fields in Fountain Valley.
As mayor, Kell spearheaded construction for the Long Beach Convention Center and created a historic preservation office at City Hall.
“The Convention Center opened in the fall of my first year as mayor,” O’Neill said. “I received many compliments and was so embarrassed because I had nothing to do with getting it built. That was to Ernie’s credit.”
Long Beach native and 1955 graduate of St. Anthony School Robert W. Senske passed away on Sept. 6 at the age of 80.
Senske was revered as the "Candy Man" of Long Beach. He would pack bags of saltwater taffy every Labor Day weekend, dress up in a sport coat and toss candy pieces to youngsters while he sat on an inflatable on the water — a tradition that he continued until before his death.
“The Candy Man was like Vin Scully, still letting himself get tossed in the drink by kids at age 79," Senske's son, Robert Jr., said. "He went out on top on his own terms."
A Long Beach champion for libraries and reading programs, Barbara Egyud, died in June after a long struggle with cancer. She was 75.
According to friends, Egyud spent her retired years aiming to improve literacy rates in the city by writing grants for the Long Beach Public Library Foundation and Bring Me A Book Foundation, as well as volunteering with the Friends of the Long Beach Public Library.
"Libraries were a refuge for me as a child — I discovered the magic of books at the branch library that was in walking distance of our home,” Egyud told the Grunion Gazette in 2015, when she was recognized with the prestigious Durnin Family Award by the Long Beach Public Library Foundation.
Diane Jacobus, a supporter of Long Beach libraries and close friend of Egyud, said that Egyud was Long Beach's "Angel of Literacy," and her efforts to help the libraries will be remembered.
“Often times, those behind the scenes are forgotten,” Jacobus said. “This lady is never to be forgotten.”
Chuck Tinkler, owner of Chuck's Coffee Shop (4120 E. Ocean Blvd.), died in April due to medical complications from a fall. He was 77.
Tinkler was known for his ability to make people feel at home, and his coffee shop has been a reflection of his personality for more than 50 years, according to his friend, Randy Westbrook.
“He was an unusual character, and we called him the Mayor of Long Beach,” Westbrook said. “He could talk to people so easily, go up to strangers and start talking and laughing — he was real likeable, a great guy. There’s no telling how many people in Long Beach knew him. I enjoyed him, and I’m sorry he’s gone.”
Naples community leader Kathy Frazier died from complications of a stem cell transplant on Friday, Nov. 24. She had been battling leukemia for four years.
Her dedication as president of the Naples Improvement Association (NIA) earned her the community’s Jimmy Heartwell Award for service in 2014. She was NIA president for three years, and in 2017 she served as the organization’s vice president, chaired Concerts in the Park and co-chaired the committee that maintained the organization’s website, banners and email blasts.
Frazier was a USC graduate, Trojan football season ticket holder and an active volunteer at the Long Beach Yacht Club and a mentoring program affiliated with the Assistance League of Long Beach.
The longtime voice of of KKJZ (K-Jazz), Helen Borgers, died in November after complications from surgery. She was 60.
For 38 years, Borgers' passion for soft jazz rang through the radio as she discussed old turntables and growing up with her favorite tunes.
Borgers' best friend since junior high, Brooke Wharton, said that the K-Jazz DJ was a supporter of inspiring musicians and actors, and always encouraged others to follow their passions. She was artistic director for the Long Beach Shakespeare Company for decades.
“As a struggling violinist, I often bemoaned that I would never sound like Heifetz or the great Russian violinist, David Oistrakh,” Wharton said. “I remember her responding, ‘You don’t need to sound like Heifetz. What’s wrong with sounding like Wharton?’”
Community activist Jerry Caligirui died in November to the shock of his family, friends and colleagues. He was 61.
"He was incredibly active in the community and local politics,” Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said. "He was such a kind and caring person. There wasn’t anyone who didn’t like Jerry Caligirui.”
Caligirui was on the legislative staff of former Long Beach Councilmen Val Lerch and Rob Webb and senior field deputy for former Councilman James Johnson. He was a member of the Neighborhoods, USA board of directors, a community liaison to the Long Beach Airport, regional director of the Pacific Southwest Region of Y service clubs and president of the Downtown Lions Club.
“Jerry was a pillar in the community,” Eighth District Councilman Al Austin said. “He was quietly responsible for much good in our city. I will miss his calm and caring advice.”
Clarence LeRoy “Mo” Mohler
One of the original Marina Pacific residents, Clarence LeRoy “Mo” Mohler, passed away in October. He was nearly 100 years old.
Mohler and his wife, Patricia, were well-known and active in their neighborhood since moving in. He served on the Committee of 300, ushered spectators to their seats for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and walked the Belmont Shore Christmas Parade every year well into his 90s.
He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, volunteered for Meals on Wheels and the Long Beach Symphony, and was a parishioner at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church.
Mophler's philosophy of life was "Do good, and never mind for whom."
Edward (John) Miller died in September with his daughter, Cathy Miller Satariano, at his bedside.
Miller was a lifetime member of the Long Beach Yacht Club, a past chairman of the Naples Boat Parade and served as Naples Improvement Association president in 1986.
He opened his first hardware store in Naples — called the Captain's Locker — and eventually moved locations to Marina Del Rey, where the company ultimately merged with Newport Supply Company.
Over the summer, the yachtsman donated his yacht, the Maui Diamond, to the Long Beach Sea Scouts. He spent five years building the boat from the ground up.
Long Beach Surfrider founding member Robert Palmer, 68, passed away in September after a battle against the West Nile virus.
On many occasions, Palmer said that his purpose was to bring waves back to Long Beach. He frequently debated Port of Long Beach representatives and Peninsula homeowners about the impacts of lowering or removing parts of the breakwater.
Palmer also focused on cleaning the beaches, co-hosting cleanups with different groups up to four weekends a month, including community organizer Justin Rudd's monthly 30-minute beach cleanups.
"He was passionate about the environment, and sinking the breakwater," Palmer's wife, Lori, said. "He made us, his son and me, environmentalists, too."
Long Beach native and Mazzy Star drummer Keith Mitchell passed away in May after a battle with cancer.
Mitchell also was a member of Opal Monitor and Green on Red. His musical interests were contagious with family, and he inspired others to explore music, his son, Paul said.
"He immersed me in different cultures and different musical influences," he added. "That's always something I'll appreciate... The experience was very rewarding."
Wilson High aquatics coach and Bixby Elementary School teacher Latham Bell died in May after a suffering a medical emergency while driving. He was 53.
Bell had served as staff commodore at the Alamitos Bay Yacht Club, volunteered to teach youngsters about sailing and served as a judge in international competitions.
The Bruins won their 45th league title at the Moore League swim finals the night of Bell's passing.
“It’s been a wide spectrum of emotion,” Eric Berg, Wilson head coach, said. “He’s one of the most selfless people I’ve ever known. He was always there with a helping hand. He was a father, grandfather, mentor to a lot of kids.”
Along with her husband, Mossy, Marjorie Kent founded the Long Beach Marina Boat Owners Association and the Marina Yacht Club of Long Beach. She passed away in March at 98 years old.
She owned a silk screening business on Second Street in Belmont Shore, volunteered to read stories to children in Lowell Elementary School and volunteered at the Knit Wits weaving group at the Alpert Jewish Community Center where she would knit tiny caps for premature babies and hats for cancer patients.
The Kents formed close bonds by making a difference in the lives of others with gestures of kindness, something Marjorie continued to do after her husband passed away in 1998.
Sophia Tiaré Bartlow
Wilson High School Athletic Hall of Fame member Sophia Tiaré Bartlow died in a car accident on Oahu’s North Shore in February. She was 25.
Bartlow was a third generation water woman and the daughter of Naples resident and World Champion surfer Jericho Poppler.
After graduating from Wilson, Bartlow went on to earn a degree from the University of Hawaii in 2013 and was known for her kind heart and giving spirit.