Union Democrat staff

Neil James Grady

April 10, 1913 - Feb. 1, 2009

Longtime aviator and community activist Neil James Grady, of Hathaway Pines, died Feb. 1 at a San Andreas care center. He was 95.

Mr. Grady was a staunch Calaveras County Airport supporter, a county planning commissioner who helped create the county's first General Plan, and an outspoken Republican.

He was born in Warner, Alberta, Canada.

His family then moved to Florence, Minn., then to Oakland, where he attended school.

Soon after his high school graduation, he became involved in auto racing. He built several types of race cars and drove in races at small tracks throughout the west.

He enrolled in the aviation program at San Jose State College, where he met and married Doris Shields, also a pilot.

The couple moved to Burbank where he became employed as a pilot for McDonnell-Douglas Aircraft Company, test flying recently assembled military planes.

During World War II, he taught U.S. Army Air Corps cadets to fly at Rankin Aviation Academy in Tulare County. After the war, the family moved to Redwood City, and he became a co-pilot for United Airlines.

In 1951, they moved to Hathaway Pines, where his parents owned property.

He worked installing service station equipment and bought Hathaway Pines Garage, which he operated for more than a decade.

In 1964, he began a close association with the Calaveras County Airport, which lasted for 35 years. He taught flying there. He built and flew his own small plane. He flew commercially for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the sheriff's office and other local concerns.

He was an avid archer and a dedicated tinkerer in the shop next to his home.

He was preceded in death by three wives, Doris (from whom he was separated), Dr. Ione Dzubur, and his most recent wife, Galina; and his son, Mark, who died in an auto accident in 1981.

He is survived by his daughter, Frances Lyman, of Pleasant Grove, Utah; a son, Dennis Grady, of San Andreas; three grandchildren; two step-grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and three step-great-grandchildren.

The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the Young Eagles Program at the Calaveras County Airport.

A service will be held at 11 a.m. Feb. 12 at Angels Memorial Chapel.

Angels Memorial Chapel is handling arrangements.

James 'Jim' L. Wilson

Sept. 14, 1939 - Jan. 30, 2009

James "Jim" L. Wilson, of Sonora, died Jan. 30 at a Sonora hospital. He was 69.

He was born in Oxnard, the first son of Dick and Ardis Wilson. He lived in Fillmore and Bardsdale, both in Ventura County, while growing up.

He began his advertising career at the Star Free Press newspaper in Ventura. He later transferred to Watsonville, Santa Cruz County, and continued his career at the Register-Pajaronian.

He moved to Sonora in 1982 and was the classified advertising manager for The Union Democrat until his retirement.

He then bought and maintained several rental properties.

He was a member of the Sonora Mountain Lions Club for many years, and, until recently, was in charge of the club's hospital equipment lending program.

His family said he had strong religious beliefs and was known and loved by many.

Mr. Wilson is survived by his mother, Ardis Wilson, of Sonora; sons, Mitch Wilson, of Sonora, and Geof DeZayala, of Fillmore; a brother, Bill Wilson, of Oxnard; a sister, Sue Robertson, of El Centro; a grandson, Austin Wilson, of Sonora; and step-daughters, Wendy Brooks, of Salinas, and Lori Schudda, of Oregon.

A celebration of his life will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 14, at Chapel in the Pines, 18580 Cherokee Drive, Twain Harte.

Arrangements were handled by Terzich and Wilson Funeral Home.


HINMAN-THORSON - Virginia P. Hinman-Thorson, 91, of Angels Camp, died Feb. 2 at a Modesto care center. A graveside service will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Olivewood Cemetery in Riverside. Remembrances may be made to Community Hospice Inc., 4368 Spyres Way, Modesto, CA 95356-9259. Angels Memorial Chapel is handling arrangements.