Union Democrat staff


'Coach' Ronten

Nov. 1, 1940 - Oct. 25, 2011

Tuolumne County native Marlen "Coach" Ronten died Oct. 25 at his home. He was 70.

Born in Jamestown to Art and Henrietta Ronten, he grew up in Tuolumne and graduated from Summerville High School in 1958, where he was a star athlete. During the summers he worked at the West Side Lumber box factory and then in the woods as a logger for West Side and Haworth Construction.

He went on to attend college in Pueblo, Colo., on a basketball scholarship.

In 1959, he married his high school sweetheart, Virginia Egger, in Poteau, Okla., and the couple returned to California where he attended and played basketball and baseball for Modesto Junior College. He completed his education at Henderson State College in Arkadelphia, Ark., on a baseball scholarship.

In 1963, he and his family moved back to Tuolumne, where he worked at Save Mart and played softball for Foster Freeze.

In 1966, he began teaching at Summerville Elementary School, where he taught eighth grade and coached boys and girls' sports.

In 1974, he began teaching math and coaching numerous sports, including varsity football and basketball, at Summerville High School. There he helped thousands of students grasp math concepts and hone their skills on and off the field and court. He also helped mentor athletes by emphasizing that positive character traits are as important as being good players.

He was known for his "run, gun and have fun" style.

In 1984, he helped raise funds and install new bleachers on the Summerville High School football field.

He was the varsity basketball coach for 35 years and was the school's athletic director until his retirement in 1998.

After his retirement, he continued coaching boys basketball until an illness forced him to take a year off in 2009-10. He coached during the 2010-11 season alongside Ben Watson, culminating his career with a Mother Lode League championship and Sac-Joaquin section playoffs.

During his coaching career he was credited with more than 500 wins. His students and athletes called him Coach Ronten.

He served several terms on the Tuolumne Park and Recreation District's board, and, along with Jerry Whitehead, was instrumental in converting the town's old playground and tennis courts into a Little League baseball park. He also helped develop the West Side Railroad Grade Walking Trails.

He coached Little League baseball for many years, and helped bring Pop Warner Football to Tuolumne County with Bill Canepa and Marlin Heldstab.

He also had a number of side businesses, including a car wash, sawmill, trophy shop and Christmas tree farm. He also had curbing and landscaping businesses, for which he acquired his contractor's license.

He enjoyed fishing and traveling cross country with his wife.

Mr. Ronten is survived by his wife of 52 years, Virginia Ronten, of Tuolumne; children and their spouses, Jeff and Nina Ronten, of Rocklin, Wendy and Mike McLaurin, of Soulsbyville; grandchildren, Lars and Melanie Ronten, both of Rocklin, and Kyle, Eli and Ethan McLaurin, all of Soulsbyville; sister and brother-in-law, Sandra and John McKernan, of Tuolumne; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his mother and father-in-law, Ronald and Hazel Egger.

A celebration of life is scheduled for 1 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Summerville High School Gym, 17555 Tuolumne Road, Tuolumne.

Donations can be made to the Marlen Ronten Memorial Fund, in care of the Summerville High School Foundation, P.O. Box 1646, Tuolumne, CA 95379.

Terzich and Wilson Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

Holly Anne Smith

Jan. 9, 1951 - Oct. 27, 2011

Former Sonora resident Holly Anne Smith died Thursday at Wagner Heights Nursing Home in Stockton. She was 60.

Born in Oakland to Hugh E. and Carol Smith, she lived at Sierra Foothills Residential Care for 10 years before moving to Lodi, then Stockton.

She worked at Hope Rehabilitation Services in San Jose and for the WATCH Resources program in Sonora.

She enjoyed being around people, especially babies, participating in the Special Olympics in many different sections in San Jose and in bowling in Sonora, going on boat rides in the Delta with her family, and taking rides with her father on his motorcycle.

She is survived by her mother, Carol Smith, of Groveland; siblings and their spouses, Margie and Rick Versen, of Castle Rock, Colo., Tim and Ginger Smith, of Livermore, and Mike and Linda Smith, of Bedford, Texas; two nephews; and one niece.

She was preceded in death by her father, Hugh E. Smith.

A memorial celebration of life will be held at 11 a.m. today at the Mountain Lutheran Church, 13000 Down to Earth Court, Groveland.

Donations can be made to the Sierra Foothills Residential Care, Building Fund, 20470 Bay Meadow Drive, Sonora, CA 95370.

Cherokee Memorial Funeral Home in Lodi is handling arrangements.


Junior Throne

Aug. 15, 1925 - Oct. 28, 2011

Sonora resident Leonard Junior Throne died Friday at his home. He was 86.

Born in Illinois, he worked as an auto body and frame repairman for 52 years.

He lived in Sonora for 24 years.

His nickname was Lucky and he enjoyed helping others.

Mr. Throne is survived by his wife of 67 years, Theomae Thomas Throne, of Sonora; son, Tommy Throne, of Modesto; and numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his son, Darrell Throne.

No service is scheduled.

The Neptune Society of Central California in Modesto is handling arrangements.


HERON - Dorothy Heron, 89, of Jamestown, died Sunday at Avalon Care Center in Sonora. Terzich and Wilson Funeral Home of Sonora is handling arrangements.

LINDSEY - Mary Jane Lindsey, 72, of Tuttletown, died Sunday at Sonora Regional Medical Center. Terzich and Wilson Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

TIMM - Mary Timm, 79, of Sonora, died Sunday at her home. Terzich and Wilson Funeral Home is handling arrangements.