Obituaries

Kathleen ‘Katie’ Freeman

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Kathleen “Katie” Honora Freeman, age 95, who lived in Pacific Palisades and Rustic Canyon for much of her life, died March 27, 2017 in Seattle, WA.

Katie was born March 21, 1922 in Leeds, England. Katie married Arthur “Mickey” Jesse Freeman in 1945 in Leeds after meeting at the “Stage Door Canteen” during WWII.

Katie was part of the Corpus Christi community and “The Christines.” Katie graduated from the University of California Los Angeles with a bachelor of arts.

She did bookkeeping for the Weathervane in the Palisades and Santa Monica. She also volunteered for Head Start and was a docent for Los Angeles Museum of Art.

She was preceded in death by her parents John and Catherine Walsh, along with her siblings: Mary, Norbert, Stephen, Pauline and Peggy.

She is survived by her adult children and their spouses: Sean and Kathy Jo, Paddy and Susan, Brendan, Maura and Laura; three grandchildren: Sophie, Sarah, Zack and his wife Darci; and loving nieces and nephews in England, Norway and Australia.

Cremation arrangements are under the care of Neptune Society-Private Service. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to White Center Food Bank 10829 8th Ave. SW, Seattle, WA 98146, by calling 206-762-2848 or visiting whitecenterfoodbank.org.

Marion Riffel: Sept. 30, 1923 – March 31, 2017

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Marion Ruth Utterback Riffel, beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, died in El Cajon after living for 48 years in Pacific Palisades. Born in Paducah, Kentucky, she grew up in nearby Cairo, Illinois, before moving with her mother, two brothers and stepfather to Beverly Hills, where she graduated from Beverly Hills High School in 1942.

She met the love of her life, Jon B. Riffel, shortly after the end of World War II.  Married in 1950, they resided in Alexandria, Virginia, Columbus, Ohio, and Menlo Park, California, before settling in the Palisades. She was a loving mother to three children and an active member of Calvary Church of Pacific Palisades, where she served as a Deaconess from 1994-97. Marion’s strong Christian faith was noteworthy, even in the final moments of her life.

Marion was and will be remembered for her generous heart and fun-loving spirit. She made good friends at all stops in her life, including knowing the names of employees (and their children) at the local supermarket, who often greeted her with hugs. Her very closest friends were members of her Bible study and Calvary Church social groups.

She was preceded in death by her husband Jon and two brothers. She is survived by her daughter, Susan (Robert) Graby of Bothell, Washington; sons Jon B. “Bran” Riffel Jr. of Pacific Palisades and James R. (Meredith) Riffel of El Cajon; five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A memorial service is scheduled at Holy Cross Cemetery, located at 5835 W. Slauson Ave. Please contact the family for details.    

Lorraine Marie Sodaro

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Lorraine Marie Sodaro was born on March 3, 1919 and passed away on April 5, 2017.  She was a loving mother to her daughter, Gina Ladinsky, and her son, Stephen Sodaro. She was also a cherished grandmother and great-grandmother.

Lorraine was born in Toronto, Canada. She was raised by Liberatore D’Orazio and Amalia Mancinelli D’Orazio, both from Villeta Barrea, Abruzzo, Italy. The family lived in Toronto, then Chicago and finally settled in west Los Angeles, where she met her lifelong love, Joseph F. Sodaro, whom she married in the fall of 1941.

Lorraine had a fun and adventurous sprit. She traveled extensively, including two around-the-world cruises with her husband. She purchased many properties, including a vacation home in Maui, Hawaii. Lorraine enjoyed shopping, interior decorating and was a gourmet cook. She also enjoyed sweets and loved chocolates, especially See’s candy, which she indulged in often.

Lorraine’s main focus in life was spending time with and looking after her family. She was a great listener and always had time for the ones she loved. In her spare time, Lorraine enjoyed reading detective novels and was a diehard Dodgers fan. She loved socializing with friends and family and was an avid bridge player.

Lorraine lived a full and exceptional life. She was deeply loved by all who knew her. She faced many adversities in her life and survived them by shear strength and true grit. Lorraine always said, “Just roll with the punches,” and that’s how she lived 98 incredible years.

James Wyllie

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James Wyllie, beloved local equestrian educator, father and grandfather, passed away March 16, 2017 in Agoura Hills. He was 98. Born March 2, 1919 in Lincoln, R.I., Jim’s remarkable teaching career spanned six decades and 65,000 students.

He was firm but kind, principled but fun, and never stopped being curious about life.

As an Air National Guard pilot during WWII, Jim flew hundreds of reconnaissance missions. He married his high school sweetheart Helen (now deceased) and attended Michigan State College. After stints as a pilot to Havana and Washington, D.C. as an air traffic controller, the Wyllies moved to Los Angeles.

At the Hollywood Arts Center, he earned a degree in industrial design, taught by members of the Germany’s prestigious Bauhaus Group. An early project was the re-design of Brentwood’s Crestwood Stables, the popular riding hub of David Niven, Robert Taylor, Barbara Stanwyck and Ray Milland. Researching all he could find on horses and their role in society, his intense interest turned into a devoted equestrian life.

Jim owned Paramount Ranch in its heyday, where Michael Landon gifted him with his “Bonanza” pinto, Cochise. His late-1950s Palisades riders included local Girl Scout troops, who proudly strutted their horses in local parades. He taught courses at UCLA, Cal Lutheran and Malibu’s Pepperdine University for 30 years, plus ongoing at Santa Monica College.

“Jim was not only a great equestrian and stable master, he was a life coach,” Pepperdine’s President Andy Benton said. “He was a teacher to so many students, and surrogate father to many young boys and girls. When they rode with him in those hills, he made them better people.”

Jim’s popular courses were accented with student trips abroad to ride. History, art, music and literature accompanied his horse management studies.

“He understood his craft at a deep, deep level,” Benton said. Jim and his daughter Cheryl trained four of his horses for the 1984 Olympics Pentathlon, and he taught old friend and ranch neighbor Ronald Reagan’s Secret Service to ride.

At age 65, he completed the one-day, 100-mile Tavis Cup Race. The subject of Malibu filmmakers Jennie and Neel Muller’s 2010 documentary “Legendary Horseman,” it showcases his eclectic life.

Jim blazed trails throughout the Santa Monica Mountains, embodying the Western ideal of horsemanship. His program continues at Malibu’s Saddlerock Ranch. He is survived by daughter Cheryl Wyllie, son Robert Wyllie, daughter-in-law Kathy, grandson Jimmy, sister Jessie Higginson and her husband Bill of Rhode Island.

A memorial will be held April 15 at 4 p.m. at Pepperdine’s Stauffer Chapel; a reception will follow in the Fireside Room.

Margery S. Posner

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Longtime Palisades resident Margery S. Posner passed away peacefully on March 11, 2017 after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease and congestive heart failure. Margery had been living at Belmont Village in Westwood for the past four years.

The daughter of Margery Cohn Snowden and George I. Snowden, Margery was born on April 28, 1924 in Washington, D.C., where she was raised. Margery married David L. Posner in 1946. They moved to Pacific Palisades in 1959, along with their three children, Laurie, Charles and Dustin, when David went to work as an aeronautical engineer at North American Aviation. David died of a heart attack in 1968.

In 1944, Margery graduated from the University of Michigan. Subsequently, she earned a master’s degree in economics from American University. Margery went on to earn teaching degree from UCLA in 1968 and taught government at Santa Monica High School for 18 years. While in her late 50s, Margery enrolled as a part-time student at Whittier Law School and earned a J.D. degree in 1986 at the age of 62. After passing the California Bar, Margery used her law degree to provide volunteer legal services to seniors and others who could not afford legal assistance.

Margery was an avid and accomplished tennis player, and she was a regular presence on the courts at Palisades Park. She also enjoyed golf, bridge, and biking and hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains. She loved art and music and was a long-time subscriber to the LA Philharmonic concert series and many theater series. She also loved reading and participated in a local book club for many years. She was very interested in politics and was an active member of the Pacific Palisades Democratic Club.

As much as she loved the Palisades, Margery was an insatiable traveler who visited numerous countries around the world and all of the continents. She enjoyed spending summers in Aspen, Colorado and Maui, attending activities involving the arts, music and current events, as well as enjoying the outdoors.

Margery is survived by her three children: Laurie Mutalipassi of Westminster, California, Dustin Posner of Portland, Oregon, and Charles Posner of Chevy Chase, Maryland. She has five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. A celebration of Margery’s life will be held at a later date.

Barbara Hooten

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Barbara Hooten (aka Barbara Ann Bills) passed away at the age of 69 on March 17, 2017 at St. Johns Providence Hospital in Santa Monica in the presence of her close family, following a brief, but fierce battle with lung cancer.

She is survived by her loving husband of 50 years, Richard Hooten; her daughters Dana Kaller (and husband, Adam), Amber O’Donnell and Brooke Akana (and husband, Matt); siblings Roslyn Koelle, Bart Bills and Crystal Formby; her grandchildren Jessica, Emily, Max, Audrey, Ella, Cole, Skylar and Cooper; nieces and nephews Karri Lynn, Brad, Alisha, Heath, Destiny and Stephanie; her great-grandchild, Noah; best friends since middle school, Mike and Donna LeCuyer; and many other relatives and friends.

She is preceded by her beloved older brother, Richard Bills.

Barbara was born on December 4, 1947 to Leroy and Stella Bills in Vandergriff, PA. She grew up with her two sisters and two brothers in Stockton, CA, spending her youth chasing boys and loading up the convertible Impala with friends for joyrides and surfing in Santa Cruz in the ’60s. After graduating Lincoln High School, she began her career at Sharp Army Depot where she met her husband, Rick, who, with the encouragement of friends, joined her on an infamous picnic trip with army buddies that landed her a cozy room for the night in the jailhouse hotel.

After two years with Sharp Army Depot, she was transferred to Fort MacArthur in San Pedro. Eventually, she moved to the Retail Clerks Union (now known as the United Food and Commercial Workers Union) where she stayed in an executive position for 34 years before retiring in 2003.

Through the people named above and those that encountered and grew close to Barbara, her imprint here continues to be a source of light, laughter and strength. Her name is carried sweetly on the tongues of loved ones who unanimously proclaim “she was the finest woman to walk this earth.”

A memorial in celebration of Barbara Hooten’s life was scheduled for 11 a.m. on March 26 at the residence of her daughter and son-in-law, Dana and Adam Kaller.

Please consider a memorial gift to The Angeles Clinic & Research Institute (theangelesclinicfoundation.org) or Cakes for Cancer (cakesforcancer.org).

The family would like to thank Dr. Lawrence Piro, Joyce, Robert, Celia, the entire Angeles Clinic team, and the doctors, nurses and therapists at Saint John’s Providence Hospital for their efforts, care and dedication.

Michael Brian Mac Ban

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Michael Brian Mac Ban, 71, passed away March 9, 2017.

Mike was born June 4, 1945 in Vallajo, California, and raised in Pacific Palisades where he was affectionately known as Brian. He was a 50-year resident of Las Vegas, and a veteran of the U.S. Navy Seabee Corps and the Vietnam War.

In 1969, Mike was hired on to the North Las Vegas Police Department, first serving as a police officer and later as a detective. He was also awarded with the NLVPD Medal of Valor. He retired from the NLVPD after 27 years of service.

Mike was a friend to many and a personal mentor to others. He was also an avid game bird hunter and traveled to South Dakota every fall to hunt with his friends. Mike was a devoted husband, father, brother, grandfather and great-grandfather.

Mike was preceded in death by his parents, Michael F.B. and Donna Mac Ban; sister, Cathy Mac Ban; and his close friend and hunting partner, Dick Maurer.

He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Susan; his brother, Barry Mac Ban (Laura); five nephews; his daughter, Carrie Mac Ban Comrie; three grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

We owe a debt of gratitude for the foundation that Mike was instrumental in laying for those who follow. Many people say that it is not the honor that you take with you, but the heritage you leave behind.

Theodore Roosevelt said it best: “The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.” This quote describes what kind of man Mike Mac Ban was, and he was good at that. Guess that’s why it was hard to stay angry with Mike.

His “Brothers in Blue” wish him a full plate of peace, for he will not be forgotten.

It was Mike’s wishes that there be no service, however, there will be a celebration of Mike’s life scheduled in the coming months. In lieu of flowers, Mike requested that donations be given to the Injured Police Officer’s Fund (IPOF) of Las Vegas. Send your check made out to IPOF, c/o NLVPOA, 3425 W. Craig Road, North Las Vegas, NV, 89032.

Donald Benagh McNelley

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“Don” Benagh McNelley,
83 years of age, went to be with God in the early morning of February 16, 2017.

His devotion to his family and his firm belief in God supported him in his struggle with Parkinson’s disease, and ultimately gave him peace.

Don is preceded in death by his parents, William and Dorothy, and his brother, Wert.

Don is survived by his loving wife of 62 years, Lovelace, his three children, eight grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial gift may be made to his favorite organization, Rock Steady Boxing of Southern California, at rocksteadyboxingsc.com.

For a more complete obituary, please visit arnmortuary.com.

Patricia Jane Vining

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Patricia “Pati” Jane Vining, 57, passed away on Monday, February 27, 2017 at her home in Pacific Palisades.

She is survived by her husband, Steven Vining, and her children. Kaitlin, Colin and Alison.

Pati was born on June 25, 1959 in Harmony, Minnesota to James and Florence Netland. She was the third of their four children, Cindy, Kathy and Mark. In 1983 she met Steven Vining and in June 1984 they were married in Minneapolis. Together they raised their children as they moved to Georgia in 1989, Connecticut in 1991 and finally to California in 1996.

An incredibly kind and giving person, Pati made many lasting friendships and left her mark in each home they made. She was known as a volunteering dynamo, involving herself in civic, educational and church groups everywhere she lived.

In California she was involved in the Marquez Elementary Parents Group, AYSO Youth Soccer, Palisades High School Parent Booster Club, Palisades High School College Center, Women Helping Youth Organization, Girl Scouts, Palisades Lutheran Church and the Palisades Lutheran Preschool. She will be greatly missed and all those who met her will remember her laugh and infectious spirit.

She was buried on Sunday, March 5, surrounded by her family at the East Norway Lake Church in New London, Minnesota.

A memorial will be held on Saturday, April 8 at the Palisades Lutheran Church at 1 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Pati’s name to her two favorite charities: the Heifer Organization and the Los Angeles-based Women Helping Youth.

Fred Weintraub

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Born April 27, 1928, in The Bronx, Fred Weintraub was the son of Anne and Izzie Weintraub. His mother’s no-nonsense approach shaped Fred’s can-do spirit. His father, eager to utilize his Wharton Business School graduate son, allowed Fred to transform their mom-and-pop toy store into a chain of 80 stores.

But it was showbiz that was Fred’s true calling. Fred started in a jazz club in Cuba, but his career really began in a chess game in which he won a piece of real estate. 147 Bleeker St. was fitted with used church pews and a stage, transforming into The Bitter End, a Greenwich Village open mic coffee shop that attracted up-and-coming talent. Here, Fred discovered many artists, including Peter, Paul and Mary, Neil Diamond, Judy Collins, Bob Dylan, Joan Rivers, Richard Pryor, Woody Allen, Bill Cosby, Billy Crystal, Linda Rondstadt, and Frankie Vallie.

Bequeathing The Bitter End to an employee, Fred moved west. In 1970, Weintraub became vice president of Creative Services at Warner Brothers and joined their board. His first business was the production of Woodstock. Initially, the deal was falling through, but, according to Artie Kornfeld, promoter of Woodstock ’69, “Freddie … told the guys of the board he would quit if he didn’t close the deal.” Woodstock won the 1971 Oscar for best documentary. Roger Ebert later wrote, “It was the film that gave a generation a voice. And made Woodstock a part of American myth.”

Fred continued to shape careers and film, producing 40 films, including “Rage” starring George C. Scott, “High Road to China” starring Tom Selleck, “Tom Horn” starring Steve McQueen, and the iconic “Enter the Dragon” starring Bruce Lee, the latter, introducing the world to the martial arts craze and named to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2007. He created, wrote and produced 50 television episodes.

In 2011, Fred published his memoirs, “Bruce Lee, Woodstock and Me.” Fred’s greatest production was his own life, richly imbued with long-lasting friendships, great humor and a tremendous passion for the business of entertainment.

Fred passed away March 5 in Pacific Palisades due to complications with Parkinsons. He was 88. He is survived by his wife, Jackie; his children, Sandra, Barbara, Max and Zachary; and four grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Jewish Women’s Theater, The Discovery Cube Los Angeles or Kehillat Israel.

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