Class Notes | Obituaries
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Sharon Louise Knopf J.D. ’82, MBA ’82, a resident of San Jose, passed away suddenly of a heart attack. Sharon L. Knopf was born February 10, 1956 in Munich, Germany to Arthur and Alice Knopf. Sharon graduated from Willow Glen High, UC Davis (BS) and Santa Clara University (MBA, JD). She was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. After graduation she formed a law practice, Sasaki and Knopf, with Dale Sasaki in 1984. Sharon served on the Board of Directors of the San Jose Quilt Museum, helping to propel it to prominent status. She was passionate about plants, animals and preservation of historic buildings supporting the Nature Conservancy and National Trust for Historic Preservation. Sharon is survived by her husband Richard Johns of San Jose, Calif., father Arthur Knopf of San Jose, sister Susan Crase and husband Dietrich Crase of Mountain View, brother Jeff Knopf and wife Stacie Knopf of San Jose, and several nieces, nephews, god-children and many cherished pets. She was preceded in death by her mother Alice in 2005 and recently by her beloved German Wire Haired Pointer, Gus (Gustav Runciter Von Wee). Sharon was a tour de force whose favorite activities centered on restoring her vintage home. A consummate shopper, she delighted in filling her home with her collected treasures. Overflowing with knowledge and creativity, Sharon had ideas and plans and invited friends to come along for the ride. Sharon has touched lives from the West Coast to the East Coast. All those touched by Sharon feel an immeasurable loss. We will miss her energy, enthusiasm, companionship and presence.
Paul Dennis Jr. M.A., Nov. 1, 2008.
Kathryn Lisa Garcia ’82, Jan. 30, 2012. A resident of San Jose, she was born June 25, 1960. Kathryn leaves to cherish her parents, Ismael and Angie Florez, and her husband of 27 years, Jay Garcia, and her two beautiful children, Jason and Veronica '12. Kathryn lived a full and admirable life while she was with us. Kathryn graced many stages with her beautiful dancing but is most known by her students with the teaching of dance, and of life. Kathryn was most proud of her family, who will remain strong and together, living up to her every expectation. She will be missed by all whom she touched. Kat, we love you.
Joan Marie Banich '82 passed away peacefully at home on Friday May 2, 2014, in Campbell, Calif. surrounded by many loved ones. Joan personified a life well-lived and touched many lives worldwide in her short time. While battling the bone marrow disease MDS for the past 11 years, she continued working at Cisco Systems while also being involved in GWLN (Women Leaders of the World) and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Team in Training. Joan was a graduate of Blanchet High School and Santa Clara University, a loving daughter and great mom and partner, an Aaron Gordon fan, a mentor, a hiker, an entrepeneur. She will be missed by all! Born in France on November 14, 1960, she is survived by parents Al and Lorraine Banich of Magnolia, sisters Peggy Hughes (Bill), Mary Clipsham (Barry), all of the Seattle area. Sister Cathy Bates (James) of Reno, as well as her husband Dave and daughter Atley Keller of Campbell, Calif. She is pre-deceased by her brother Steven.
Daniel "Danny" P. Lawless ’82—our beloved father, son and brother—left this life and entered eternal life on Friday, February 22, 2013. Danny was born in Phoenix on August 7, 1960. He attended Brophy College Prep and graduated from the University of Santa Clara in 1982. Danny worked his entire career as a financial consultant. Danny is survived by his beautiful children, Dylan and Megan, his former wife and mother of their children, Hallie Lawless, his parents David and Ellen Lawless and siblings, Tom Lawless '77, J.D. '82 and Cathy Gaudreau (Bill). Danny was a great golfer and two time winner of The Men's Club Championship at Arizona Country Club. He was also a life member of the Phoenix Thunderbirds. Danny loved life, his family and his many friends. He will be sorely missed but never forgotten. Our family appreciates the enormous outpouring of love for Danny. Rest in peace our beloved Danny!
William Carroll “Bill” Mitchell '83 was born February 19, 1961, in Tulsa, Okla., to Thomas J. and Marilyn J. (Donovan) Mitchell. He passed from this life peacefully at his home Wednesday, July 7, 2010, at the age of 49. Bill was a life-long Tulsan and graduated from Cascia Hall Preparatory School in 1979. He received his Bachelor’s degree in finance from Santa Clara University in 1983. He returned to Tulsa where he received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Tulsa in 1986 and ran a successful private law practice for nearly 25 years. Bill was preceded in death by his father and his brother, Thomas J. Mitchell, Jr. He is survived by his daughter, Amanda; two sons, William, II and Brendan, all of the home; his mother, Marilyn Dock; and, his sister, Debbie, both of Tulsa.
Stephen Gibbs J.D. ’83 retired Resident of San Jose Died September 20, 2011, in his Naglee Park home. He was 56 years old. Judge Gibbs was born on April 3, 1955 in San Francisco, California to Joan Nellis and Robert Gibbs. He attended Port Jefferson High School in Port Jefferson, New York. He continued his education at the State University of New Paltz in New Paltz, New York, graduating in 1977 with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Geography. (On October 13, 1978, he was in a car accident and became a quadriplegic.(Realizing that his degree in geography would not support the financial needs of a quadriplegic, he packed up his van and drove out to California to attend Law School at the University of Santa Clara. As he was fond of saying, he made good use of his geography degree by making sure he moved to the kind of climate that would best suit his physical condition. He graduated cum laude from Santa Clara in three years and was an Articles Editor on the Law Review. He has had two articles published in the Santa Clara Law Review. Despite his achievements, he was unable to find a law firm willing to hire a quadriplegic, so he worked as a solo practitioner for 18 years. After receiving the top score on the written and oral examinations for a position as an Administrative Law Judge, Mr. Gibbs became Judge Gibbs when he was made an Administrative Law Judge with the California Unemployment Board of Appeals in 2001. Judge Gibbs retired from that position in 2008. As a lawyer, judge and ordinary citizen, Judge Gibbs always worked passionately to make sure that people who were disadvantaged did not suffer adverse consequences because of their disadvantage, whether the disadvantage stemmed from disability, economic condition, gender, race, color, religion or age. At the same time, he encouraged everyone he met to meet life's challenges head on but to always meet those challenges with their sense of humor intact. He has left behind many friends, loved ones and admirers. Judge Gibbs is survived by his loving partner of 22 years, Elizabeth Johnson; his mother Joan Fox; his Fox brothers Tom, Andrew, Jerry, Kevin, Michael and Steve and his sister, Bernadette Christie, along with many nieces and nephews. One brother, Dan Fox, predeceased him.
Roger A. Parshall J.D. ’83, passed away on Feb. 8, 2013, in Arcata Calif. After his graduation, he practiced law in Humboldt County, originally as a public defender. In recent years, he came to support the Occupy Movement locally. A native of Detroit, Mich., he is survived by his younger sister, Nanci Parshall. He is remembered as a good friend by all his law school classmates.
Philip Chike Nchekwube '83, MBA '86 on March 8, 2010. A native of Aguleri in Anambra State, Nigeria, Chike was born in Lagos to Georgina Nchekwube and the late Matthias Nchekwube. He returned to Aguleri at the onset of the Nigerian civil war and completed his secondary school studies at All Hallows Seminary in Onitsha. Chike then moved to the United States in 1979 and subsequently obtained his undergraduate degree in accounting and an MBA from Santa Clara University in California where he graduated with distinction as the class valedictorian. He also held a law degree from the University of California at Berkeley and worked at various times as an accountant at Xerox, an attorney at the global law firm of Jones Day in Washington DC, a business owner of three GNC stores in northern California, a deputy prosecutor in Lake County, Indiana and a professor of Business Law and Accounting at St. Francis University in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Left to mourn Chike are his wife, Miranda Nchekwube sons, Ikenna and Nnamdi Nchekwube; mother; brothers, Emeka and Chiedu Nchekwube; sisters, Angelina Ivenso, Uju Nchekwube, Victoria Nchekwube; in-laws, along with countless other friends and family members who were blessed to have known him. Chike had a good wit and enjoyed long conversations with friends and kin, championing the aspirations of the Aguleri people in the diaspora, and being with his family. He touched the lives of many people with his smile and generosity, and maintained his trademark sense of wit and stubborn integrity all the way to the end.
Lauralee Sorenson M.A. '83 on Jan. 1, 2009. A native of Salinas, she served on Cupertino's Planning Commission and City Council and was mayor in 1991-1992. She attended Mills College for two years, graduated from Stanford University School of Nursing, worked for a year for a Modesto pediatrician, and then returned to the Bay Area to work for the San Mateo County Health Department as a public health nurse. She had a 23-year career as school nurse for the Cupertino Union School District and continued after retirement to consult on truancy and attendance issues. She was involved with numerous organizations and boards of directors and was recognized as Cupertino's Woman Citizen of the Year in 2007. She is survived by her husband of 49 years, Martin; and five children.
Roger Gillis, S.J., M.A. '83 died Friday, December 3, 2010 at Mount St. Vincent's Nursing Care at the age of 63. He had taught and advised students at Seattle University since 1987. "Father Rog" entered the Society of Jesus in 1969 and was ordained a priest in 1978. He had an immense influence on students and alums, who abundantly poured out their affection on him during these last three months of his illness.
Donna L. Hasbrouck MBA ’83, June 13, 1956 to July 12, 2012 Resident of Los Gatos. Donna L. Hasbrouck passed on after a courageous journey with cancer. Donna achieved a business degree from UC Berkeley and an MBA from Santa Clara University. She retired from Intel after 25 years working in both finance and human resources. Donna is survived by her father and his wife, Leo and Louise Hasbrouck, her sister and husband, Lisa and Jerry Roth, her sister Terri McLennan, her brother and his wife, Steven and Veronica Hasbrouck and her aunt Judy. Theresa, her mother, passed on in 1995.
David F. Escover '83, resident of Hollister, passed away on Saturday May 24, 2014 at the age of 54. He was born on May 20, 1960 to Anthony Escover '55 and Pat Escover. Dave is survived by his wife Denise (Labrucherie) of 29 years, who loved him with her whole heart and soul, his son David and his daughter Danielle. Dave was the proud brother of five sisters: Cathy Warshawsky '81 (Randy), Loraine Otis (Brian), Janette Johnson (Steve), Joan Escover '86, J.D. '90, and Yvonne O'Connor (John). He also was a great uncle for his nieces and nephews: Krickey-poo-Bear (KC), Lady Lo (Lauren), Brandon, Eric, Brian, Rachel, Nate the Great (Nathan), Chris, Kevin, Swami (Dominic), Doug, Julie, and Joe.
Dave graduated from Saint Francis High School Mt. View, in 1978. He went on to finish his education at Santa Clara University in Mechanical Engineering. While in school, Dave also was the loving caregiver of his paternal grandfather, Anthony; who he loved and admired dearly. Grandpa Escover instilled in Dave his love and knowledge of ranching and mechanical abilities.
Upon graduation, Dave worked for a short time in the agricultural industry. In 1990, Dave co-founded All Chemical Disposal, a hazardous waste company. In 1995, Dave established a new family business, D-4 Excavation. Upon closing his company Dave began working closely with his cousin, Steve Pessagno at Pessagno Winery. Upon his death he was the winery manager.
Antoinette "Toni" (Chaix) McCabe M.A. '83 passed away on February 23, 2011. Toni was born on November 29, 1946, in Los Angeles to Dana and Joseph E. Chaix. She earned her Bachelor's Degree in Sociology in 1970 and her teaching credential in 1972 from Dominican University of California. She has provided for a Scholarship Fund at the University. Toni taught for five years before marrying her husband Wayne McCabe. She was an avid golfer and a member of the Senior Golfers of America. She also enjoyed opera and the theatre. Toni was a contributor to Lamb's Players Theatre in Coronado where she had been living since 1988. She is also a contributor to the San Diego Museum of Art, the San Diego Symphony and various other organizations. Toni is survived by an aunt, Iris; and cousins, Robert and Melinda. She was preceded in death by her husband Wayne in 1993.
Abby Sobrato '83 died on May 27, 2010. She was the wife of John M. Sobrato '83, mother of John A. Sobrato '10 and Jeff M. Sobrato '11, and daughter-in-law of John M. Sobrato '60. The following obituary appeared in the San Jose Mercury News on May 28.
Abby Sobrato, member of philanthropic family in Santa Clara Valley, dies of pancreatic cancer
By Sandra Gonzales
Abby Sobrato, a member of an influential philanthropic family with deep Santa Clara Valley roots, died Thursday after an eight-month battle with pancreatic cancer.
She was 49.
Mrs. Sobrato was the wife of John M. Sobrato and daughter-in-law of John A. Sobrato, a prominent developer and founder of the Sobrato Family Foundation, which has donated millions to nonprofit organizations.
Beyond being a devoted wife and mother, Mrs. Sobrato was a philanthropist in her own right - a woman with many charitable passions. On the top of that list was the Walden West Science Center, a nonprofit that encourages young students to learn the sciences.
She was not just the president of the Walden West Foundation in name, she led the building campaign for its science classrooms, said Margaret Nanda, a fellow board member.
"She was the most giving, loving, wonderful person," Nanda said. "She was the most sincere, genuinely kind person. A great light has been extinguished. I am just so sad. It's a great loss for the whole valley."
Mrs. Sobrato also was the co-founder of the Princess Project Silicon Valley, a charitable mission that provides prom dresses and accessories for girls who can't afford it, Nanda said.
Active in St. Mary's Catholic Church in Los Gatos, Mrs. Sobrato graduated from Saratoga High. She met her husband at Santa Clara University - an account she lovingly recalls in a blog documenting her illness.
"This time in March always holds a special place in my heart. March 11, 1983, is the day that I met my husband," she wrote last March. Her husband was bartending at the university's happy hour. "John poured me a beer and we noticed each other for the first time."
They married and had two sons, Jeff and John. Both now attend Santa Clara University.
"I was lucky to have the kids and all the 'specials' home for Thanksgiving. The 'specials' are the kids that have literally grown up with my kids," she wrote in December.
Throughout her illness, Mrs. Sobrato displayed high spirit and good cheer - traits she showed all her life.
"She was a very creative person and loved to socialize," Nanda said. "There are so many that can call her a friend."
She also was a great photographer, Nanda said.
Just months before her diagnosis, she was avidly snapping pictures at an open house for the Sobrato Center for Nonprofits, said Carole Leigh Hutton, president of United Way Silicon Valley. The foundation opened the center as a home for valley nonprofits.
"The whole Sobrato family and the family foundation are just extraordinary people," Hutton said.
Hutton met her for the first time in September 2008, when Mrs. Sobrato and her husband accepted a "Philanthropist of the Year" United Way award on behalf of the Sobrato Family Foundation.
"I found her quite remarkable. I think of her as just an incredibly vivacious, dynamic energetic person," Hutton said. "It's just so tragic to see this happen to someone so young and so giving."
A funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Mary's Catholic Church, 219 Bean Ave., Los Gatos at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Mrs. Sobrato's memory to the Walden West Foundation, 15555 Sanborn Road, Saratoga, CA 95070-9709.
Victor Valdez ’84, M.A. ’94 51, lay ecclesial minister and long-time catechetical leader who achieved Master Catechist status last year, died on July 17, 2013. He had suffered for many years from the effects of recurring brain tumors.
Wendy Scherbart, Director of Catechetical Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, said, “Over the 30 years I have known Victor, he has shown me how to put my trust in God. He lived with integrity and hope while carrying recurring health challenges.
“Victor chose to discern the will of God each day. He strived to do the will of God and now is fully united with God. I thank him for inspiring us with his courage and deep faith.”
Scherbart said that Victor had just made his second trip to Lourdes in May with the Knights of Malta and that he was seeking peace. “He told me that the day he went to the baths he didn’t want to hurry, but to be fully present to the experience.
“As he stepped through the waters, he felt sensations, the temperature, the placement of each foot, and he emerged feeling a deep peace,” Scherbart said.
At Valdez’s funeral Mass, July 24, at Santa Teresa Church, San Jose, Father Jose Antonio Rubio M.A. ’95, STD ’06 gave the homily, noting the Gospel reading, John 6: 37-40, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
Father Rubio said Victor “had recurring benign brain tumors and had 12 surgeries — some 13 hours — until they couldn’t operate anymore. He had the tumors for more than half his life, but he did a lot in a life.
“Even as a boy Victor carried his cross. When he was born, an ear was partially developed and he endured a number of surgeries. When he was in grammar school, he was hit by a car, broke his hip and was in a cast for six months.”
“Victor had a strong faith,” Father Rubio said. “From his Mexican heritage he had great faith in Our Lady of Guadalupe, and he got strength from the writings and spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola. After he was diagnosed with the tumors, he dedicated his life to God, working for the Church. He always paid attention to how God was working in his life.”
Valdez worked at St. John Vianney, St. Athanasius, St. Denis (Menlo Park) as Director of Religious Education, at the University of Santa Clara as a resident minister in the dorms and with the alumni association. He planned retreats, gave talks and workshops at faith formation conferences in San Francisco, Santa Clara and Ariz.
Father Rubio said, “Victor carried his cross behind Jesus, but he carried his cross like Jesus. The cross of Jesus changed the universe and lead to resurrection, his resurrection, Victor’s resurrection, our resurrection.
“Victor saw life as a pilgrimage. He liked to travel and went to Lourdes twice, to Fatima, and to Madrid for World Youth Day in 2011. He had
been looking forward to WYD Brazil this year.
“When he returned from Madrid he wrote an article for The Valley Catholic recalling standing in rain all night and sleeping on cement. He quoted the very text that was tonight’s Gospel reading, and he concluded: If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
Victor wrote, “I know the call of Jesus calls for total commitment requiring great sacrifice. What we experienced at World Youth Day was an opportunity to trust in the Lord who never abandons us. In an exhibit along a Madrid parkway, we saw life-size reproductions of the Stations of the Cross. It is through the cross that we are led to freedom.”
“Free at last, Victor, free at last!” Father Rubio concluded.
Sharon Ann Fierro 84' on Thursday, December 4, 2008. A native of San Jose, she was 62 years old and lived in San Jose all of her 62 years. Loving mother of Michael (Liliana) Fierro and Stephanie (Denis) Eastwood. She was the cherished grandmother of Gabriela and David with another grandchild on the way, and beloved daughter of Billie Watts.
Ram-Mohan Savkoor MBA '84 passed away on November 7, 2009.
Gary Skinner MBA '84 passed away on March 16, 2011. He was from Chico, Calif., and a graduate of Chico High School and U.C. Davis. His obituary appeared in The Herald newspaper in Monterey County, where he lived for the last 28 years of his life. It also appeared in the Chico Enterprise-Record.
Elizabeth Julie Powers ’84, affectionately named "Missy" by friends and family, passed away from complications endured during a more than a two-year struggle with breast cancer.
Missy is survived by her sons, Joey Powers (18) and Matt Powers (15), and husband, John Powers ’83 all of Watsonville; mother Susan Scurich of Watsonville; brothers Tony Scurich ’81 and Mike Scurich ’84 of Watsonville and sister Mimi Scurich ’89 of San Jose. Missy was blessed to have the love of a large and supportive family including nieces Casey and Megan; nephews Jeff, Scott, Luke, and Zach; as well as sisters-in-law Julie ’82 and Jennifer ’83. She joined her father, Luke “Bud” A. Scurich ’54, in heaven who passed away nearly two years ago.
Chris F. Merryman MA '84 passed away May 20, 2010, Sunnyvale, Calif., age 69. A long-time teacher, administrator, and counselor in the Bay Area, he earned an MFT degree from University of Santa Clara. Chris enjoyed travel, cars, movies, games, jokes, and dinners with friends. Even after being slowed by the onset of Parkinson's disease later in life, he was a strong advocate for community youth programs, stressing leadership, communication, and support services.