Longtime Sonora resident Howard Van Kessel dies

June 22, 1920 July 30, 2003

Longtime Sonora resident Howard William Van Kessel of Sonora died last Wednesday at his home of heart complications. He was 83.

He was born in Chicago and raised in Glendale by his parents, Herman and Emma. He graduated from Glendale High School and Art Center School in Los Angeles after World War II. He was a Marine Corps veteran and served in the Pacific with the 1st Armored Amphibian Battalion. He kept in contact with members of his battalion and attended most of their reunions.

He moved to Sonora in 1949.

He had a variety of jobs, including owning a TV repair business, and working as a construction company foreman and building inspector.

His family said his lifelong love of art led to his part-time job as the building designer of county fair booth displays for Tuolumne County and other counties. His displays won several awards.

He was the owner of the Prospectors Trading Post in Columbia State Historic Park for 27 years. He was active with the Columbia College Foundation and was involved in opening the City Hotel for business, and establishing the hospitality management program at Columbia College.

Mr. Van Kessel recently was inducted into the Columbia College Hall of Fame. He was an active member of the St. Patrick's Parish Community. He also was a former president of the Sonora Rotary Club and a founding member of the Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice. He was a 22-year member of Columbia City Hotel board of directors.

His family said he loved family gatherings, traveling and visiting with friends. He spent many hours gardening and landscaping around the home he built in Sonora more than 30 years ago, his family added.

Mr. Van Kessel is survived by his wife of 36 years, Janet Van Kessel of Sonora; a sister, Marion Reed of Roseville; three sons and two daughters-in-law, Gordon Van Kessel of Berkeley, Duke and Debbie York of Jamestown and Dan and Debbie York of Sacramento; three daughters and sons-in-law, Vicky and Jeff Kennedy of Placerville, Jody and Tak Hamabata of Walnut, and Dr. Katie Van Kessel, and her husband, Derek Loeser, of Seattle; 18 grandchildren, Jessica Van Kessel, Amber Van Kessel, and her husband, Tim Redmond, Matt, Sean and Molly Kennedy, Sarah, Sam and Patrice Clemons, Aaron, Seth, Corinne, Nathan, David and Ian York, Dustin, Corey and Kyle Hamabata, and Zachary Loeser; and a great-grandchild, Mia Redmond.

He was preceded in death by a daughter, Mary Beth York.

A memorial Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Patrick's Catholic Church. A celebration of life will be held in the church hall immediately after Mass.

Donations can be made to Visiting Nurse Association, Hospice of the Sierra, P.O. Box 4805, Sonora, CA 95370, or to the Columbia College Foundation in memory of Howard Van Kessel, 11600 Columbia College Drive, Sonora, CA 95370.

Terzich and Wilson Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

Richard 'Rit' Ethredge

Aug. 12, 1943 Aug. 3, 2003

Richard "Rit" Ethredge of Sonora died Sunday of natural causes at a Modesto hospital. He was 59.

He was a native of Cape May Court House, N.J. He lived in Sonora for 14 years.

He was an officer for 27 years, first in the military, then as a private security officer, federal police officer and for the Redwood City Police Department. He recently returned to private security. He served in the U.S. Army for six years.

His family said he enjoyed traveling and making and selling American Indian crafts.

Mr. Ethredge is survived by his wife, Sherryl Ethredge of Sonora; two sons, Richard F. Ethredge of Iowa and Richard F. Ethredge II of Columbia; four daughters, Betty Valine of Las Vegas, Tina Torkelson of San Jose, and Pam Sholer-Elford and Camille Losey, both of Sonora; three brothers, Norm Ethredge of Stockton, Richard Gaines of Sonora and Harold Conger of Jamestown; a sister-in-law, Dorothy Gay of Modesto; three nephews, Chris and Chuck Simmons and Billy Conger, all of Sonora; two nieces, Margaret Miller of Sacramento and Penny Kiss of Sonora; 10 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Services are pending.

Eaton Family Funeral Services in Modesto is handling arrangements.

Saralea Stark

Sept. 1, 1953 July 29, 2003

Saralea Stark of Groveland died unexpectedly July 29 at her residence. She was 49.

She was born in Modesto and had lived in Groveland since 1987.

She worked as a registered nurse at Doctor's Medical Center in Modesto for 28 years. She was a member of the Foothill Assembly of God Church.

Her family said she loved scrapbooking, reading and crossword puzzles. Her family was the love of her life, and she loved spending time with them, they said.

She is survived by her husband, Kenneth Stark of Groveland; a son, Daniel Stark of Groveland; a daughter, Robin Avery of Groveland; two brothers, Duane Frederick of Modesto and James Frederick of Montana; a sister, Joyce Stancil of Modesto; parents, Dwight and Beverly Frederick of Modesto; her mother-in-law, Eunice Johnson of Sonora; and a granddaughter, Summer Avery.

A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday at the Carpenters House, 1105 S. Carpenter Ave., in Modesto.

Heuton Memorial Chapel is handling arrangements.