The Grunion

Jim Willingham, former head of the National Automobile Dealership Association and once honored as America’s most reliable auto dealer by Time magazine, has died. He was 92.

Mary Thoits, the dynamic, fun-loving creator of Long Beach City College’s popular Senior Studies program — which attracted thousands of elderly students over four decades — died Saturday, Jan. 2, at her home. She was 97.

The year comes to an official end shortly (undoubtedly to cheers). Here's a look back at some Long Beach residents who passed away in 2020.

LOS ANGELES — Rafer Johnson, who won the decathlon at the 1960 Rome Olympics and helped subdue Robert F. Kennedy’s assassin in 1968, died Wednesday. He was 86.

Frank Willis Butler, president and Chief Executive Officer of Catalina Yachts, died at Westlake Village on Nov. 15, 2020, from unexpected complications from a recent illness. He was 92 years old.

When Andy Osman, Poly High School’s beloved “Mr. Music Man,” was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a year and a half ago, he met the life-threatening disease with characteristic aplomb.

Bruce Flanders, the legendary public-address announcer who became the longtime “Voice of the Long Beach Grand Prix” and entertained racing fans for more than 40 years, died Friday. He was 75.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia’s stepfather, Greg O’Donnell, has died from coronavirus complications, the city’s elected leader announced Monday, Aug. 10 — two weeks after the mayor lost his mother.

Angela Madsen, the 60-year-old three-time Paralympian and Marine veteran whose goal was to set a world record as the first paraplegic, first openly-gay athlete, and oldest woman to row across the Pacific Ocean, has died.

Larry Curtis, Long Beach’s “Music Man” who conducted the city’s popular Municipal Band for summer concerts for 27 years and was Long Beach State University’s conductor of bands for 25 years, died Saturday, June 13. He was 82.

Gary Scott Miltimore, one of yachting’s most beloved characters, died peacefully from complications of stage 4 melanoma on June 2. His wife of 28 years, Diana Jennings Miltimore, was at his side.

When Tom Clark started his first term on the Long Beach City Council in 1966, he never imagined that it would lead him to setting a record for longest serving elected public official in city history.

Layla Ali-Ahmad, the founder of Beach City Food Tours, lost her six-year battle with breast cancer on March 19. Although she grew up in Irvine, Layla found true connection in Long Beach, where she moved after college.

Joe Picarelli, who immigrated to the United States from Italy without knowing any English and became one of the most popular restaurateurs in Long Beach, died Sunday, March 22, his brother, Frank Picarelli, said. He was 65.

Bill Barnes, a legendary educator and coach who mentored thousands of Long Beach students and left a legacy as a trailblazing civil rights leader in the community, died Monday, Dec. 16. He was 89.

Longtime Peninsula resident and Alamitos Bay Yacht Club member Isabelle Lounsberry passed away on Saturday, Nov. 15, with her daughter Robin and son-in-law Mark Townsend at her bedside. She leaves her daughter, two granddaughters, Jennifer Kopp and Megan Smith, and four great grandchildren.

LaJuana Rudy, a Naples and Bay Harbor resident for several decades, died suddenly on Wednesday, Nov. 13. LaJuana, affectionately known as LJ, was the neighborhood Mom for many who grew up in the Naples and Belmont Shore communities.

Barbara Alpert, a leading supporter for the Long Beach Jewish community through educational and cultural programs, especially for children, died Sunday, Nov. 24, according to her family. She was 88.

George Loizides, popular owner of George’s Greek Cafe and the “smiling greeter of Pine Avenue,” died of cancer Tuesday, Oct. 15, at his Long Beach home. He was 83.

Cardinal William J. Levada, who rose from altar boy at Holy Innocents Church and graduate of St. Anthony High School in Long Beach to the highest-ranking American prelate at the Vatican, has died. He was 83.

John Murphy, a stalwart at Mr. Ron's barbershop in Naples, passed away suddenly on Sept. 18 of unknown causes at his home in Long Beach.

On Wednesday, July 24, 2019, Jim Lincoln, loving husband and prominent member of the Long Beach sailing community, passed away in his sleep at the age of 61. He had recently completed sailing in the 50th Transpacific Yacht Race on board Chubasco.

Robert E. Fronke, a longtime, trailblazing city auditor who fought for the independence of the auditor’s office in making better use of taxpayer money, has died. He was 92.

Bill Lorbeer, described as a relentlessly positive man with a huge heart and a Belmont Shore fixture, died April 21 at the City of Hope Medical Center surrounded by family.

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