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Gary Griggs, age 82, of Goodyear, Ariz., left this mortal realm on May 16, 2022. He is survived by his wife of almost 58 years, Bev; their son Michael (Shelly) Griggs; daughter, Kim Guerin; granddaughters, McKenna King and Rooney Jane Guerin; brother, Dan Griggs; brother-in-law, Mark (Sandra) Haner; nephew Matthew and niece Alison Haner; and two step-grandsons, Collin (Laura) Owen and Ryan Owen. Gary was preceded in death by his parents Otto and Kittie Griggs of Las Cruces, N.M.
Gary was born in Wichita Falls, Texas, then grew up in Las Cruces, N.M. He attended Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and UNM prior to enlisting in the United States Marine Corps where he served for eight years and was a Vietnam combat veteran. He met the love of his life while on Christmas leave in 1962; they wed in 1965 and they were married for almost 58 years.
Gary enjoyed everything life had to offer, but family was his first and foremost love. He loved them from the first moment he held them in his arms. It was watching his children grow and learn, set and achieve goals, become adults and have their own families that brought smiles to his face. Then it was the granddaughters who brought a new dimension of love to Gary’s life. How he adored those girls and was truly their proud Papa.
Tremendous and heartfelt thanks go to the exceptional doctors and nurses at St. Joseph Hospital Neuro Intensive Care Unit and also to Encompass Health and Acute Rehab in Glendale who provided a compassionate environment while carrying out their incredible nursing duties. An extra special thank you is extended to Hospice of the Valley during Gary’s transition from rehab to home, then from this life to the next. Their care and support of both Gary and our family was the best anyone could have and much appreciated.
A Celebration of Life will be held at the Church at Litchfield Park in June. A date has not been set at this time. Internment will take place at the Phoenix Veterans Memorial Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial donations be made in Gary’s name to The Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, The Church of Litchfield Park, or Hospice of the Valley.
John Donald Spooler, age 90, of Goodyear, Ariz., passed away peacefully at home on Friday, May 13, 2022.
John was born Sept. 13, 1931, to William and Mary Spooler in Wiley Ford, W.Va. The second of six children, John grew up surrounded by his grandparents’ love and knowing the value of hard work. He was an avid football player, basketball player, bowler, and golfer who always enjoyed a game with friends.
John enlisted in the Army in 1951 and began a highly decorated, 27-year career, initially as a Combat Engineer. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam and was stationed in Europe on multiple occasions. John retired from the Army in 1977 as a Command Sergeant Major from his last duty station at the Sergeants Major Academy in Fort Bliss, Texas. John met his wife Christine during his last tour of duty in Germany. They were married in 1970, and enjoyed 52 years of marriage together.
After the Army, John enjoyed a 15-year career with Academy Life Insurance, ultimately retiring as SVP of Sales. They moved to Goodyear, Ariz., in 1997 and John was elected twice to the HOA Board of Directors where he served his neighbors for more than 10 years.
John cared deeply about the welfare of military families and children, and he dedicated significant time to non-profit organizations including the Rotary Club, Shriners International, Arizona Homeless Youth Connection, and many others.
John is survived by his wife Christine, daughter Sharon, son-in-law James O’Brien, grandchildren Kevin and Lauren O’Brien, sisters Melba Knotts and Jane Kitzmiller, sister-in-law Virginia Martz, and 10 nieces and nephews.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, June 11, at 11 a.m. at the Tuscany Falls Clubhouse in Goodyear. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Goodyear Rotary Club John Spooler Memorial Fund at www.goodyearrotary.org.
May his memory be a blessing to all who knew and loved him.
(Mary) Patricia Shields Milich
Mary Patricia (Pat) Shields Milich, 76, of Goodyear, Ariz., (formerly of Hainesport, Medford, and Southampton, N.J.) died on April 13, 2022, at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix. She grew up in Pemberton Borough, N.J., the daughter of the late Margaret Kemp and Joseph Hager Shields. Widow of Stephen D. Milich, she is survived by her three children, Mary Meehan of Leiden, The Netherlands; Anne Stagliano of Litchfield Park, Ariz.; and Peter Milich of Newport Beach, Calif. She also is survived by her beloved grandchildren, Sophia and Stephen Stagliano and Mira Meehan.
The oldest of seven children, Mrs. Milich leaves behind three sisters and three brothers as well as dear members of her late husband’s family. She is also survived by a host of nieces, nephews, and many friends.
Mrs. Milich graduated from Holy Cross High School in Delran, N.J., Class of 1963. She attended Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J., taking courses at night while working fulltime as a reporter, columnist, and ultimately editor of The Burlington County Times Advertiser in Pemberton, N.J. During that time, Pat won numerous awards for her writing and editing from both the Burlington County and New Jersey Press Associations.
From 1991 until her retirement in 2007, she served as Director of Public Information for the Mount Laurel and Lenape Regional public school districts in New Jersey. Mrs. Milich was a member of the Hainesport Township Board of Education for 10 years, serving two years as the board president.
She was a member of St. Mary of the Lakes Catholic Church in Medford, N.J., prior to moving to Arizona in 2012, at which time she joined St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Goodyear.
While in Goodyear, Mrs. Milich served on the board of directors of the PebbleCreek Singles Club and the PebbleCreek Bocce Association. Her primary “job” during those years was that of a fulltime “Grammy.” She often would tell people it was the best job she ever had, and the most rewarding.
Here is her farewell, in her own words:
“I have been shown in so many ways throughout my life the love, kindness and collegiality of my loving family members and dear friends. I am now entering into eternal life with so many wonderful memories of and deep appreciation for all the people in my life who made it so worth living. Take care of one another and please remember, no matter what happens in life, ‘don’t let the flowers die.’”
A celebration of life will be held this summer in New Jersey. Condolences may be offered at 4200 W. Village Parkway, Unit 2129, Litchfield Park, AZ 85340.
Janice “Jan” Hilliker Fowler
With heavy hearts, we are letting Jan’s many loved ones know that Jan passed away on April 8, 2022, at her home in Goodyear, Ariz.
She so dearly loved her family. Her three children, Chuck, Dianne, and John, have all been able to be together with Aubrey in Arizona to share both tears and laughs, which is exactly what she would have wanted.
“Grammy” was an adoring and proud grandma to Aaron, Megan, Keely, Macie, John, and Christen, and a great-grandma to Matthew and Elena. Her incredible generosity and endless creativity were certainly her trademarks. Not a holiday went by without a special arrival and often a quick-witted personalized poem for each of them, which was much anticipated by all!
She was incredibly talented with her needlework and quilting. She learned from many of you and others she has taught, as well. She spent countless hours creating very special and thoughtfully designed quilts, but the best part for her was when the time came to give the finished product to her loved ones.
Jan and Aubrey were married for 62 years. It was seldom they weren’t side by side, and it was inspiring to observe their love for each other. They were best friends through life, and Aubrey was right by the love of his life when she passed peacefully in her sleep.
They lived their dream retirement and truly traveled the world. They experienced almost every continent (don’t count Aubrey out for Antarctica yet), and it’s not easy to win the game of “name a country that Mom and Dad haven’t been to.” They worked very hard to make this well-deserved dream come true.
She was so grateful for the many friends she had made along her path in life from Denver to Omaha, then to her peaceful retirement retreat in Arizona. Thank you all for your gifts of love and friendship, she will stay with us all in spirit forever.
A very small family service will be held in Denver at a future date.
We are saddened to announce the passing of Perry Jackson, 85, on April 1, 2022. Perry is survived by his wife, Margaret Sue; sons, Russell (Kelly), Roger, and Neal (Nicole); and granddaughters Abigail, Jordan, and Olivia. Perry was born and raised in Farmington, N.M., where he lived until he moved his family to Albuquerque to continue his career with the telephone company where he retired after a long career. Later, he and Sue moved to Arizona to be closer to their granddaughters. Perry was an avid wood carver and an active member of the PebbleCreek Woodcarvers Group. In lieu of flowers, please share a favorite memory, photo, or a message of condolence on Legacy.com. No services will be held; memories will be shared at a gathering of immediate family in early June.
Barbara “Barb” Irene Van Trump
On March 31, 2022, Barbara “Barb” Irene Van Trump, beloved wife, mother, and friend, passed away at her home in Goodyear, Ariz. The youngest of three daughters to Roger “Pete” and Mary Hebdon Peterson, Barb was born on Dec. 11, 1954, in Caldwell, Idaho. Pete wanted a boy to take over the farm, but with three girls, he decided Barbara would have to do. As a result, duty and the hard work of running a dairy farm dominated Barb’s childhood. This upbringing may have explained her indomitable spirit and work ethic. Barb could not be deterred once she set her mind to something. A proud member of the “Iron Butt Association,” she had no trouble handling a Harley or trekking all over the country behind the wheel of a 41-foot bus.
Barb had a nomad’s spirit that drove her from her rural environs in Idaho, first to the Air Force and then to the side of her husband, William “Bill” Van Trump. Bill was a railroad man who lived on the rail and traveled wherever the work was needed, which suited Barb, and they made their first home together in a boxcar. Soon enough, Barb gave birth to Angela, whose first crib was a dresser drawer, as Bill and Barb’s travels took them from Grand Island to Omaha to St. Louis to just about every city and town in the Midwest and West.
Tragedy and trial were sometimes companions on Barb’s travels. She lost her first son, Andrew, after five challenging years of life. But Barb’s dauntless countenance carried her through the tough times.
Eventually, Barb settled down for a time in Salt Lake City. There she traded her geographic restlessness for an equally varied set of occupations. From housekeeping to real estate to running a crafts and hobby shop, she did a little bit of everything. Barb resumed her travels in retirement, living at times in Colorado, Nebraska, Washington, and Arizona. Never still for long, Barb was a voracious quilter, a proud member (and board member) of the PebbleCreek Rovin’ Pebbles RV Club, and avid mah jongg and Hand and Foot player.
Finally, at the end of her travels, Barb is survived by her husband, two children, Angela Fontes and Will “Buddy” Van Trump, and one granddaughter, Morgan Fontes. Barb’s Happy Hour was held in Sunrise Park on April 21, where neighbors and friends bid farewell to a great lady. Services will be held in Omaha, Neb., on May 23, 2022.
William Carl Brown (Bill)
William Carl Brown (Bill), 88, son of Wesley Carl and Donie Brown, passed away on March 10, 2022. Bill grew up in Kansas City, Mo., where he participated in the Boy Scouts, earning the rank of Life Scout. He graduated from Southeast High School and moved to Flint, Mich., to attend General Motors Institute, where he earned an industrial engineering degree and met his future wife, Nancy.
Following graduation, Bill and Nancy married and moved to Edgewood, Md., where Bill served in the United States Army Chemical Corps. Later he served in the Army reserve.
After going to work for General Motors, Bill continued his education, earning a master’s in engineering from University of Michigan, and a doctorate in business administration from Indiana Northern University.
His long career with GM both in the United States and in Strasbourg, France, let him work where his passion lay: cars (both new and classic). When he was manager of the Hydramatic plant in Ypsilanti, Mich., he established the first programs to help inner city workers stay on the job, to enable those with addictions to turn their lives around, and to develop women’s managerial skills and advancement potential.
In addition to work, Bill gave to the community by serving as president of the library board in Northville, Mich., as a leader at St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Livonia, Mich., as chairperson of United Way campaigns, and as president of the school board (where he worked to make sure girls had equal access to all classes, especially in the sciences).
When his daughters were young, he was an energetic, enthusiastic parent: a nurturer, changer, feeder, bather, and super teller of bedtime stories. When the girls were older, he supported them in their pursuit of engineering at Michigan State University and was even able to say, “Go green” when watching college football.
After retiring from General Motors, Bill pursued one of his other passions, flying. He became a licensed private pilot, and he and Nancy logged many flight miles in their Piper Archer. After they bought their home in PebbleCreek in 1998, Bill joined weekly poker groups, played tennis and golf, and met with friends for breakfast every Tuesday.
Bill is survived by his loving wife of 67 years, his daughters Sheri Allen (Don Boucher) and Caralyn Brown, and grandsons Wesley Cashman (Olivia Mast) and Ian Faulkner.
A Celebration of Life will be held May 21, 2022, in the Chianti Room at 11 a.m.
Elizabeth “Betty” Fetzer
Elizabeth “Betty” Fetzer, 94, of Spearfish, S.D., passed away on March 9, 2022, at Spearfish Canyon Healthcare.
Betty lived a very full 94 years of life. The most treasured things in her life were her family, friends, and the game of golf. She played her last game of golf at the age of 90!
She is survived by her sons Ed and Leslie Sewell, Scott Sewell; granddaughter Ann Sewell; and brother Bob Sinclair and his family.
A Celebration of Life will take place in the spring. A memorial has been established.
Arrangements are under the care of Fidler-Isburg Funeral Chapels and Isburg Crematory of Spearfish. Online condolences may be written at www.fidler-isburgfuneralchapels.com or sent to 601 Meier Ave., Spearfish, SD 57783.
Richard “Dick” E. Jacka
After being surrounded by family who shared their love with him, our husband, father, and grandfather peacefully passed away on March 9, 2022. Dick was born on Sept. 15, 1932, in San Jose, Calif., to Ellard and Eugenia Jacka and later moved to Crockett, Calif. After graduating high school, Dick joined the Navy and served for two years. He continued his education at Sacramento State College, graduating in 1958 with a degree in Political Science. He initially worked for the state of California as a Property Disposal Officer before transferring to the General Services Administration as an Area Utilization Officer, retiring in 1993.
He married his wife, Georgia Feiling, in 1957 and together they raised two children, Pamela and Bradley. Dick enjoyed traveling and listening to all kinds of music. He was an avid golfer. He was famous for scoring two holes-in-one in a three-day period at the Championship Course at Incline Village, Nev. Dick will be remembered as always having a smile on his face and reminding all that “every day is a beautiful day.” He never met a stranger—only someone he saw as a new friend.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Ellard and Eugenia Jacka, and his grandson, Tyler Walsh. He leaves behind his wife of 64 years, Georgia Jacka; daughter and son-in-law, Pam and Kevin Walsh; son and daughter-in-law, Brad and Karen Jacka; and three grandchildren, Coreen Walsh Grey and husband Nigel Grey, Emily Jacka, and Collin Jacka.
The family is grateful for the care Dick received from his caregivers, Debbie Sparks and Sandy Parker, as well as the staff at Rock Creek Memory Care Facility.
A celebration of life will be held this summer at the Jacka home at Lake Tahoe.
Yvette Deleyer Nelson
Yvette Deleyer Nelson died March 7, 2022, after suffering a stroke. Yvette was 92 years old. She was preceded in death by her husband, Donald E. Nelson, age 94, 11 months earlier. Yvette was a retired elementary first grade teacher in Mankato, Minn. Yvette had recently celebrated her 67th wedding anniversary.
Mrs. Nelson is survived by three remaining sons, Kraig, K. David, and Scott, all who are living in the Valley, along with a grandson, Rylan, and her younger sister, Thama Knudson, from Omaha, Neb. Yvette was loved by all with her strong Christian faith. Her body was donated to Southwest Institute for Bio-Advancement through whole body organ and tissue donation for medical education and research. Services will be private.
Luis “Lou” J. Escajeda
Luis “Lou” J. Escajeda, beloved husband of Carole Escajeda, passed away on Sunday, March 6, 2022, in Goodyear, Ariz., at the age of 81. He was an original member of the Sandbaggers and 26-year PebbleCreek resident who loved being part of the PebbleCreek community. He is predeceased by his brothers Ruben Jr. and John, and survived by his sister, Rosemary.
Lou was born in El Paso, Texas, in 1940, the son of Ruben and Leonor Escajeda. He loved his family and friends, and was always known to be an outgoing group member. He joined the Air Force in 1958 and loved military service from the start. While stationed in Gander, Newfoundland, he met his first wife, Margaret, with whom he had three children: Annette, age 59; Yvonne, age 57; and Karina, age 46. He graduated from Florida State in 1969 with a B.S. in Meteorology, and completed Officer Training School in Illinois in 1970. Of all his posts, he most loved his time in Germany at Ansbach AFB with the Weather Squadron. His favorite activities were sightseeing with his family and collecting beer steins from biergartens. After his divorce, he retired from the Air Force as a Captain in 1981. His last assignment was at Onizuka AFB in Sunnyvale, Calif. Among his many commendations, he received a small arms expert marksmanship ribbon. As much as he loved the military, retirement allowed him to grow a beard—one that he had for the rest of his life.
After active duty, Lou joined General Electric as a computer programmer. There he met his wife Carole through lunchtime runs together while she trained for the San Francisco Bay to Breakers 10K. This led to nine Bay to Breakers runs together and over 40 years of togetherness. Lou loved sports and activities, going out often with Carole and many friends to GE group events. He loved to cheer on the SF Giants and Oakland A’s after tailgating. Lou was also a diehard Dallas Cowboys fan, and loved his household rivalry with Carole’s beloved Philadelphia Eagles. Before full retirement, he missed the ‘weatherman life,’ and was a meteorologist for the U.S. Weather Service at the San Francisco airport (SFO). He enjoyed work with purpose and with a sense of exactitude.
After moving to PebbleCreek in 1996, Lou became a founding member of the Sandbaggers. He regularly volunteered with the Red Cross in their records department at Luke AFB. He contributed to many charities and philanthropic initiatives, as evidenced by the many requests for donations that arrive on a daily basis. In later years, Lou was often found laughing along with Big Bang Theory and Friends. Lou is survived by three children: Annette Koziol of Brunswick, Maine; Yvonne Fox of San Jose, Calif.; and Karina Escajeda of Kents Hill, Maine; plus two stepchildren: Beverly White of Eagleville, Penn.; and Christopher Walker, of El Dorado Hills, Calif.; in addition to 10 grandchildren, and 22 great-grandchildren.