Union Democrat staff

Robert 'Bob' Atkinson

Aug. 6, 1920 - March 10, 2010

Vallecito resident Robert "Bob" Atkinson died March 10 at his home. He was 89.

Born in Peoria, Ill., he attended Peoria High School where he was a track and field star. After graduation in 1938, he worked for an insurance company in Chicago before enlisting in the U.S. Navy in 1942. He served on a destroyer until the end of World War II.

He then attended the Chicago Art Institute for two years before relocating to California, where he earned a bachelor's degree with a major in fine arts from the California State College of Los Angeles.

He worked at various jobs over the next several years, including teaching arts and crafts.

He got married and had one daughter before being widowed at an early age. He married again and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area before divorcing and settling in Castro Valley.

There he met his longtime companion, Lore Gates, a widow, and her family. He joined her and her family in the foothills. They became partners and bought the old Victor Solari place in Vallecito.

He set about converting an old barn on the property into an art studio.

He moved full-time to Vallecito in 1978 where he continued to practice his art.

He continued to take classes throughout his life, including the San Francisco Art Institute, Oakland College of Arts and Crafts, and Hayward State University. His early artwork reflected a medieval theme, evolving into a "cabaret" style, followed by a circus phase, his family said.

A founding member of the Calaveras County Arts Council and a member of the Calaveras Gem and Mineral Society, he continued with his classes after he moved to the foothills, where he studied etching at Cal State Stanislaus in Turlock and ceramics and raku at Columbia College.

He offered demonstrations and workshops to various youth and adult organizations, schools and community television. In 2008, he established a scholarship to benefit art students at Calaveras, Bret Harte and Mountain Oaks high schools.

His other passion was traveling, which he enjoyed with his partner. Together they traveled to Russia, China, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, New Zealand, and Central and South America. He also enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren.

Mr. Atkinson is survived by his partner of more than 40 years, Lore Gates, and her children, Lynn Condit of Hayward, Jim Gates of San Francisco, Tim Gates and Joe Gates, both of Vallecito, and Nancy Johnson, of Hanford, their spouses and children, Amy Gates, of Austin, Texas, Austin Gates, of San Francisco, Jackson Gates, of Vallecito, Seana Gordon, of Hayward, Mariah Hohn, of Sacramento, Dylan Condit, of Hayward, Larry Gates, of Sonora, and Kimberly Johnson, of Hanford, and their families; his daughter, Norene Wigley, of Kayenta, Utah; his grandchildren, Moss Person of Dufur, Ore., and Alex Wigley, of Kayenta; a stepdaughter, Darah Stafford, of Sacramento, and her daughters, Elizabeth and Bernadette Stafford, both of Sacramento.

A celebration of life is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, March 27, at the Angels Memorial Chapel. A reception will follow at Utica Park.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Robert B. Atkinson Scholarship Fund for the Visual Arts through the Calaveras County Arts Council, P.O. Box 250, San Andreas, CA 95249.

Angels Memorial Chapel is handling arrangements.

Linda Marie Atwood

July 22, 1966 - March 13, 2010

Sonora resident Linda Marie Atwood died March 13 at a Sonora care home after an illness. She was 43.

Born in Johnson City, N.Y., she had lived in Sonora for 13 years. She worked as a nurse and enjoyed knitting and music.

She is survived by her mother, Millie J. Huntley, of Apple Valley; children, Robby Atwood, of La Crescenta, and Jordan Atwood, of Oklahoma; and siblings, Lisa Wilson, of Huntington Beach, Ike Huntley, of Hesperia, and Jeno Dold, of Arizona.

A celebration of life will be held at a later date.

Terzich and Wilson Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

Donald R. Bliss

July 8, 1921 - March 13, 2010

Former Tuolumne resident Donald R. Bliss died March 13 at his home in Santa Rosa. He was 88.

Mr. Bliss was born in Sacramento. He served in World War II in the Army Air Force as a flight engineer with the Air Evacuation Corps in the South Pacific.

He retired in 1983 as superintendent of mechanical technicians at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory after 33 years service.

He enjoyed spending time in the mountains, especially his garden. A ham radio operator, he also enjoyed his regularly scheduled radio sessions with fellow members of TCARES and SARO.

He lived in Tuolumne County since 1983. He also was a member of Sierra Bible Church for many years, before declining health necessitated moving to Santa Rosa in late 2009.

Mr. Bliss is survived by his wife, Mary Ping Bliss; a sister, Janice Paulsen; his children, Robyn Mersfelder, of Fremont, Loryn Lindsey, of the East Coast, and Donald S. Bliss, of Orinda; and Mary's children, the late Michael Ping and his wife, Caroline Ping, Christine Ping and her husband, Gary Medvigy, and Bob Ping and his wife, Rozanne Ping, and their families.

Burial is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday, March 25, at Sacramento Valley National Cemetery.

The Neptune Society of Northern California is handling arrangements.

Kristopher 'Topher' Dickey

Jan. 9, 2000 - March 10, 2010

Kristopher "Topher" Michael Dickey, of Sonora, died March 10 at a children's hospital in Oakland. He was 10.

Born in Sacramento, he had lived in Sonora for seven years. He was a third grader in Sonora. He loved his family, music, singing, dancing and his church family.

He is survived his parents, Michael and Steffenie Dickey; siblings, Sonora, Hannah and Hudson Dickey; grandparents, Bob and Julie Reed, and John and Darlene Dickey, all of Sonora; great-grandmother, Francis Steffen, of Sonora; and numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins.

He was preceded in death by his uncles, Gabe Dickey, in 2001, and Lancelot Dickey, in 1976; great-grandfather, Bert Steffen, in 2003; great uncle, Harrold Tilley, in 2005; and a great-grandmother, Faye Dickey, in 2009.

A child-friendly memorial is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Calvary Chapel of Sonora, at 19889 Soulsbyville Road, in Soulsbyville. Children are welcome.

Terzich and Wilson Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

Leon Jones

July 28, 1939 - March 13, 2010

Calaveras County resident Leon Jones died March 13 at Memorial Medical Center in Modesto. He was 70.

Born in Tulare, he had lived in Calaveras County since 1967, most recently in Avery. He worked as a troubleman for PG&E for 35 years. He enjoyed fishing and always had a joke or story for everyone, his family said.

Mr. Jones is survived by his wife, Linda Jones, of Avery; a son, Brandt Jones, of Santa Monica; a daughter, Leslie Collier, of Chinese Camp; a brother, Leamon Jones, of El Torro; two grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.

At this time, no services are scheduled.

Donations can be made to Calaveras Humane Society, P.O. Box 177, Vallecito, CA 95251.

Angels Memorial Chapel is handling arrangements.

Annabel Pensa

Oct. 16, 1915 - March 11, 2010

Sonora resident Annabel (Rosekrans) Pensa died March 11 at her home. She was 94.

Born in Aberdeen, Wash., she grew up in San Francisco, where she graduated from Girls High School. Then she attended University of California, Berkeley.

She married James Gillmore, a mining engineer, and they had three daughters. The marriage ended after World War II, and she married Army veteran Ernest Pensa of Columbia in 1946.

She worked for the telephone company, Mother Lode Dairy and wrote advertising copy for radio station KROG, later KVML. In 1960, she joined the staff of the Stanislaus National Forest in Sonora, where she spent 17 years before retiring.

She and her husband made several cross-country trips by car to visit his war buddies. She traveled extensively after his death in 1982, including a trip to Russia four years ago.

She was a member of the National Association of Retired Federal Employees and the Sonora Women's Tuesday Club.

She is survived by daughters, Jocelyn Jardine, of Sonora, and Jane Wohletz, of Reno; 11 grandchildren; 27 great-grandchildren; and seven great-great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her husband and by her daughter, Sara Finklea.

At her request, no services are scheduled. She will be buried at the Columbia Cemetery.

Terzich and Wilson Funeral Home is handling arrangements.