Union Democrat staff

Charlotte 'Lottie'(Berger) Lawton

Aug. 11, 1926 - June 17, 2013

Sonora resident Charlotte "Lottie" (Berger) Lawton died Monday at Skyline Place in Sonora. She was 86.

Mrs. Lawton was born in Duisburg, Germany, to Herman and Chana Berger.

During the Holocaust, she was encamped at the Riga Ghetto in Poland in 1941.

There she met her future husband, Harry Lawton, who protected her and her mother while in Riga.

She was liberated by American forces in 1945. She weighed only 70 pounds after she left the camp and spent several months recuperating in Sweden before joining her sister in England.

Unable to immigrate the United States without a sponsor, Harry Lawton moved to La Paz, Bolivia. Charlotte joined in him La Paz and they wed in 1947.

They moved the San Francisco Bay Area in 1949. There Mrs. Lawton worked as a payroll manager in the trucking industry for 20 years.

After her experience in Riga, Mrs. Lawton was invested in Holocaust education and advocacy for the rest of her life. She was the subject of a historical documentary made by her nephew, called "Lottie's Story."

She and her husband also recorded oral histories which are in Holocaust memorial museums in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.

She settled in Sonora 14 months ago to be closer to family.

Mrs. Lawton was preceded in death by her husband, Harry Lawton, in 1992.

She is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Jeanne (Lawton) and Tim Gisi, of Twain Harte; grandchildren, Timmy Gisi Jr., of Fairfield, and Michael Gisi and his wife, Ginger, of Tampa, Fla.

A graveside service will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at Dambacher Mountain Memorial Cemetery in Sonora.

Terzich and Wilson Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

Ruth Elma (Pennell) Steen

April 3, 1919 - June 15, 2013

Sonora resident Ruth Elma (Pennell) Steen died Sunday at Avalon Care Center of Sonora. She was 94.

Mrs. Steen was born in Pennsylvania and raised by her aunt, Helena Pennell.

She married Peter Steen and they lived on a dairy farm in Ohio for many years before moving to Modesto 35 years ago to be closer to family.

She worked as an inspector in plastics manufacturing in Modesto for 15 years from 1965 to 1980.

Mrs. Steen settled in Sonora two years ago. She enjoyed horses and was a member of the Prescott Bible Church in Modesto.

Mrs. Steen was preceded in death by her husband, Peter Steen, in 1987.

She is survived by her son, Richard Steen, of Modesto; and grandchildren, Michael, Jeffrey and Karen Phillips, of Modesto.

Visitation will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Friday at Heuton Memorial Chapel, 400 S. Stewart St., Sonora. A funeral service will follow at 1 p.m. at the chapel. Burial will be held at Mountain Shadow Cemetery in Sonora.


BERTEL - Otto Bertel, 95, of Soulsbyville, died Tuesday at his home. Heuton Memorial Chapel is handling arrangements.

BYER - Donald Byer, 78, of Sonora, died Monday at Sonora Regional Medical Center. Terzich and Wilson Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

MARTIN - Patricia Ann Martin, 76, of Sonora, died Tuesday at Sonora Regional Medical Center long-term care unit. Terzich and Wilson Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

SEEMAN - Clyde Seeman, 78, of Angels Camp, died Sunday in Stockton. Angels Memorial Chapel is handling arrangements.

WHITSED - A celebration of life for Norman Whitsed, 77, of Copperopolis, who died June 9, will be held at 11 a.m. June 28 at the Sonora Elks Lodge. Donations in his memory can be made to the Sonora Elks Lodge, 100 Elk Drive, Sonora, CA 95370, or Hospice of the Sierra, 20100 Cedar Road North, Sonora, CA 95370. Heuton Memorial Chapel is handling arrangements.