Union Democrat staff


Obituaries, including photos, are published at a pre-paid fee based on size. The deadline is 5 p.m. two business days prior to publication. Call 532-7151, fax 532-5139 or send to obits@uniondemocrat.com.

Memorial ads are published at a pre-paid fee based on size. The deadline is noon two business days prior to publication. Please call 588-4555 for complete information.

John D. DeCoster

May 24, 1938 - May 27, 2014

John D. DeCoster passed away on May 27, 2014. He was born on May 24, 1938 in Detroit, Mich., and moved to Tuolumne County in the early 1950s.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Violet and William DeCoster; brothers, Bill and Ken DeCoster, and sisters, Barbara Rountree, Betty Underwood and Patricia Atholder.

John is survived by his children and their spouses, Tammy and Billy Johnson, Cindy DeCoster and John L. DeCoster; his siblings, Franklin DeCoster and Gerrie Houlstine; grandchildren, Jessie Gunn, Hannah Johnson, Trey DeCoster and Kayla Rolfe, and several nieces and nephews.

John attended Summerville Elementary and Summerville High schools. He was a musician who loved playing the drums. John served in the U.S. Army during the '60s, where he was stationed in Germany, qualifying in marksmanship. He spent most of his career as a logger working for many local logging companies.

After retiring in the early '80s, John moved to Modesto and became very active in AA. He was a sponsor to many in recovery and was very proud to be 25-plus years sober.

A celebration of life potluck luncheon will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 2, in Tuolumne at River Ranch.

R. John Pratt

Oct. 29, 1931 - July 28, 2014

John Pratt, of San Diego, Calif., passed away on July 28, 2014, surrounded by his loving family.

John was born in Hollywood, grew up in Oakland and attended Piedmont High School, where he lettered in football, basketball and baseball. Following high school, John served his country with distinction in the Korean War and then married his high school sweetheart Margot Marie Thomson. They celebrated 56 years of marriage, before her passing in 2008 and received a Proclamation from the California State Assembly, honoring their 50th anniversary. They traveled the world together, including their last adventure to Machu Picchu and the Amazon River.

They raised a family of four children, Bill (Sherry), Terry (Mark), Steve (Laura) and Tom (Kimberly). John was blessed with nine grandchildren, Rochelle, Casey, Shawna, Lindsey, Christopher, Mark, Nicholas, Thomson and Hutton; and six great grandchildren, Vincenzo, Giovanni, Shadrach, Moriah, Harper and Charlie.

John was an accomplished businessman, rising to executive vice president and west region head of the global insurance broker, Aon. Notably, he established the first physician-owned insurance company in California, the Southern California Physicians Insurance Exchange. John left a lasting mark on all who knew him and was a man of many interests, including community theater. He appeared in commercials and TV shows and was the co-star of the "Ron and John Show" on Calaveras County Community Television. John held leadership positions with numerous civic, charitable and religious organizations.

John will always be known for his unrelenting optimism, his sense of humor and quick wit, his uncanny ability to be the life of the party, his incredible ballroom dancing skills and, most of all, for being a loving father and grandfather. He had an incredible gift of sharing kindness and concern, which he exhibited throughout his life and demonstrated up to the end, touching the lives of his caregivers.

A rosary service at St. Patrick's Church in Murphys, Calif., will be held on at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 2, and a celebration of his life will follow there at 10 a.m. Monday, Aug. 4. The family asks that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Scripps Health Foundation, P.O. Box 2669, La Jolla, CA 92038. Please make sure to indicate the donation is in memory of Ralph John Pratt for Scripps Hospice.


Death Notices in The Union Democrat are published free of charge. They include the name, age and hometown of the deceased, the date of death; service information; and memorial contribution information. The deadline is 2 p.m. the day before publication.