Union Democrat staff

Thomas Edward Duke

Sept. 3, 1925 - Jan. 1, 2014

Valley Springs resident Thomas Edward Duke died Jan. 1 at Mark Twain Medical Center in San Andreas. He was 88.

He was born in Phoenix, Ariz., the son of Thomas Brennan and Emma Green Duke.

His family moved to Calaveras County when he was 2 years old, because of his father's work with the Calaveras Cement Plant.

After graduating from Calaveras High School in 1943, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy where he served as a machinist mate on the USS Terror in the South Pacific during World War ll.

After the war ended, he was employed by Calaveras Tire and later Doherty Tire Corp. and Duke's Tire Service, where he sold and serviced tires for Calaveras Unified School District, Calaveras County offices, logging companies and county residents for more than 40 years.

He married Guilda Gillick on Sept. 16, 1948. They were married for 44 years until her death in 1992.

Mr. Duke enjoyed spending time with family and was a member of American Legion Post 0102.

He was featured in a Stockton Record Veterans Day article in 2012 and was awarded the first Pioneer Award by the Society for the Preservation of West Calaveras History.

He was a member of the Community United Methodist Church in Valley Springs for more than 75 years.

He served on the water sewer and boards for the Valley Springs Utility District until seven years ago.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Duke was preceded in death by his parents; and brothers, Donald and Mickey Duke.

He is survived by his children and their spouses, Christine and Ron Hollingshead, of San Andreas, Debra and Bob Burkhardt, of Valley Springs, and Jeffrey and Pam Duke, of Valley Springs, eight grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.

A graveside service will he held at 1 p.m. Saturday at Double Springs Cemetery in Valley Springs.

Donations in his memory can be made to American Legion Post 0102, Jenny Lind Veterans Memorial District, or Community United Methodist Church, 135 Laurel St., Valley Springs.

San Andreas Memorial Chapel is handling arrangements.

Robert 'Bob' Hyer

Aug. 8, 1938 - Jan. 1, 2014

Former Twain Harte resident Robert Hyer died Jan. 1 in Modesto. He was 75.

Mr. Hyer was born and raised in Modesto. He graduated from Ceres High School and attended Modesto Junior College.

He was an avid private pilot who flew any chance he got, his family said. He was a member of Flying Farmers of America and devoted many years flying missionaries for "Doctors Without Borders."

He was also a charter member of the Westport Volunteer Fire Department from 1962 to 1967.

Mr. Hyer moved his family to Fresno in 1967, as he started employment with Eli Lilly and Co., part of the Dow-Elanco Corp., where he worked for more than 40 years.

As a Dow employee, he was the field applicator for all the test chemicals and designed and built sprayer equipment that he used in the field.

He lived in Twain Harte for five years before moving to Modesto two years ago.

He enjoyed building computers for family members and missionaries in his retirement.

Mr. Hyer was preceded in death by his parents and one grandchild.

He is survived by his children and their spouses, Andy and Sophia Hyer, of Cloverdale, Carol and Tim Whitaker, of Brea, Debbie and Bill Bailey, of Granite Bay, Loren and Eileen Watts, of Littleton, Colo., Lynette and Mike Mosinski, of Clovis, Michelle and Martine Borges, of Clovis, and Lance and Valerie Watts, of Clovis; his siblings, Norman and Wilda Hyer, of Modesto, Lester Hyer, of Modesto, Janet and Bill Patton, of Missouri, Nadean Oliver, of Washington, and Christine Brown, of Oregon; 21 grandchildren, one great-grandchild; and several nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Franklin and Downs McHenry Chapel, 1050 McHenry Ave., Modesto.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Art & Becki Melli, in care of Youth for Christ, P.O. Box 4478, Englewood, CO 80155.

Franklin and Downs Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

Henk Ryzinga

June 1, 1929 - Jan. 4, 2014

Sonora resident Henk Ryzinga died Jan. 4 at his home. He was 84.

Mr. Ryzinga was born in Holland and lived in Canada and the San Francisco Bay Area before settling in Sonora in 2000.

He enjoyed spending time with his family and friends, and traveling by cruise ship.

Mr. Ryzinga is survived by his wife of 60 years, Diane Ryzinga, of Sonora; his children and their spouses, John and Karen Ryzinga, of South San Francisco, and Rich and Susie Ryzinga, of San Jose; his grandchildren, Joshua and Jacob Ryzinga, Angela Randall and Audrey Solon.

A private family service will be held at a later date.

The Neptune Society is handling arrangements.

Paul Howard Riggs

Oct. 11, 1932 - Dec. 30, 2013

Groveland resident Paul Howard Riggs died Dec. 30 at his home in Pine Mountain Lake. He was 81.

Mr. Riggs was born in Santa Monica and lived in Groveland for nine years. He previously lived in Oahu, Hawaii, for six years on a large sailboat, and logged more than 30,000 miles traveling the Pacific Ocean from the Bering Sea in Alaska to Australia and New Zealand.

Mr. Riggs enjoyed visiting remote islands and helping the natives repair car and boat engines. He worked as a hydrographer doing water and snow surveys for Southern California Edison Co. and then for PG&E. He spent those years traveling the High Sierra east of Fresno on snowshoes and by snowcat in the winter and on horseback and helicopter in the summer.

He also lived in Daniel, Wyo., for 15 years and enjoyed hunting and fishing.

He served in the U.S. Navy for four years based at Barber's Point, Oahu.

Mr. Riggs is survived by his wife, Louise Riggs, of Groveland; children and their spouses, Ronald Riggs, of Bowling Green, Ky., Janet and Steve Gillett, of Auberry, Fresno County, Marcia Riggs, of Flagstaff, Ariz., Denise Anderson, of Groveland; adopted children, John Riggs, and Ruth and her husband, Dave Moline, of Highland Park, Colo.; grandchildren and their spouses, Tyrell and Tara Gillett, and Kelly Gillett, of Auberry, Eric Anderson, of Knoxville, Tenn., Amanda Riggs, of Fresno, and Nicholas Quayle, of Flagstaff; two great-grandchildren; and his sister, Elizabeth Briley, of Antioch.

Private services will be held at a later date.

A donation in his name can be made to Hospice of the Sierra, 20100 Cedar Road North, Sonora, CA 95370.

Heuton Memorial Chapel is handling arrangements.


BOWCUTT - A memorial service for Alberta Bowcutt, 81, of Sonora, who died Jan. 2 at Sonora Regional Medical Center, will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at Heuton Memorial Chapel, 400 S. Stewart St., Sonora. Heuton Memorial Chapel is handling arrangements.

DANIEL - A celebration of life for James "Leonard" Daniel, 83, of Sonora, who died Dec. 20, at his home, will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Patrick's Catholic Church, 127 W. Jackson St., Sonora. A reception will follow at the Parish Hall. Terzich and Wilson Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

WOHLER - A memorial service for Rhoda C. Wohler, 88, of Crystal Falls, who died Dec. 31, will be held at noon Saturday at the Crystal Falls Clubhouse. The Neptune Society is handling arrangements.