Union Democrat staff

Johnnie Elizabeth 'Betty' England

Jan. 31, 1923 - Dec. 17, 2012

Johnnie Elizabeth "Betty" England, 89, of Sonora, died Dec. 17 at Skyline Place in Sonora.

She was born in Athens, Ga., to Lavelle and Hattie Cephus Moorehead, and grew up there. She was awarded the title of Miss Athens Personality in 1937 by the Elks Club. She attended Athens High School and served as president of the Junior Girl Reserves and YWCA. Her family said she was known for her smile.

She owned and operated Betty's Truck Stop, an Athens landmark, for 30 years before it was destroyed by a tornado in 1971. She was a member of Beech Haven Baptist Church in Athens.

Her family said she loved her pets, reading, studying the Bible and meditating.

She and her husband of 37 years, Larry England, moved to Sonora in 2001.

In addition to her husband, Mrs. England is survived by her son and daughter-in-law, Godfrey L. and Debbie Channell, of Athens; a daughter, Renee Padgett, of Athens; three granddaughters and one grandson; and three great-grandsons.

Funeral services were held at Bernsteins Chapel in Athens, with Dr. Stewart Simms officiating.

Memorial donations may be made to Beech Haven Baptist Church, 2390 W. Broad St. Athens, GA 30606.

Terzich and Wilson Funeral Home handled arrangements.

John Richard LaTorre

April 9, 1935 - Dec. 14, 2012

John LaTorre, a resident of Sonora and Twain Harte for 53 years, died Dec. 14 at his office. He was 77.

Mr. LaTorre was born in San Francisco. He graduated from Bellarmine High School, a Catholic preparatory school, in 1953.

After school, he became business partners with his father at LaTorre Restaurant in downtown San Francisco.

His family owned a vacation cabin in Twain Harte, which brought him to the area.

One of his first jobs in Tuolumne County was working for the County Road Department. He began working on road crews and eventually moved to the engineering department, and was involved in designing many local roads.

In 1966, he began his lifelong career as a licensed land surveyor.

Mr. LaTorre was a volunteer fireman in Twain Harte in the 1960s. He also was active in Cub Scouts and coached Little League and softball.

He enjoyed cooking, traveling, gardening, carpentry, photography, spending time outdoors and listening to music, especially opera. He enjoyed reading and was a fan of the San Francisco Giants baseball and 49ers football teams.

Mr. LaTorre was preceded in death by his mother, Gertrude Louise Merril LaTorre, in 1988; his father, John LaTorre Sr., in 2000; and his brother, Thomas LaTorre.

He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Marsha LaTorre, of Sonora; four children and their spouses, Karen LaTorre and and Avelino Santella, of Santa Maria, John LaTorre Jr. and Kris Kestley, of Tuolumne, Bob and Renee LaTorre of Manzanita, Ore., and Monica and Hawks, of Sonora; his former wife, Dale LaTorre Elliott, of Groveland; two brothers, Terry LaTorre and Wynn LaTorre, both of Sonora; six grandchildren and spouses, Michael LaTorre, and his wife, Elizabeth, of Portland, Ore., Sophia Avelina Lair, and her husband, Justin, of Orange County, Sara LaTorre of Columbia, and Natalie, Alec, and Evan Hawks, of Sonora; and three great-grandchildren.

A celebration of life will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Sonora Elks Lodge, 100 Elk Drive, Sonora.

Terzich and Wilson Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

Ethel Threlkeld

Jan. 15, 1920 - Dec. 14, 2012

Former Tuolumne County resident Ethel Threlkeld, of Gold River in Sacramento County, died Dec. 14 at Clementine Home Care in Orangevale. She was 92.

Mrs. Threlkeld lived in Tuolumne County from 1968 to 1989.

She was born Jan. 15, 1920, in Finley, Okla.

A homemaker for 72 years, she was a member of Church of Christ in Rancho Cordova, and her interests included gardening, sewing, singing, playing Yahtzee and spending time with grandchildren.

She is survived by three children, Richard Threlkeld, of Cordova, Tenn., Carla Edwards, of Jacksonville, Ill., and Cynthia Silver, of Gold River; four grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.

Private family services were planned. Burial was held Mountain Shadow Cemetery in Sonora.

Heuton Memorial Chapel handled arrangements.


DESHAIES - James Deshaies, age unspecified, died Sunday at his home in Groveland. Terzich and Wilson Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

JIRKA - A celebration of life will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Bret Harte Union High School Theater for Stanley Leonard Jirka, of Angels Camp, who died Dec. 14 at Mark Twain St. Joseph's Hospital in San Andreas.

STEVENS - Former Groveland resident Gordon Stevens Sr., 73, died Dec. 19 at his home in Cameron Park. Heuton Memorial Chapel is handling arrangements.