Legacy and Memorials

Ruthanne Sheehy Tompkins

With sadness, nostalgia and enormous gratitude for the life she shared with us, the family of Ruthanne Sheehy Tompkins announces her death at the age of ninety-four on Saturday April 14, 2018. Surrounded by her children and caregivers, including Rosa Vargas and Heather Hazelton, who made it possible for her to spend her final days at home, Ruthanne died on the Casmalia ranch where she had lived for sixty-eight years, the last twenty absent her devoted husband, David Tompkins. In her long, rich and inspiring life, she was sustained by the love she shared with her spouse and family, by the depth and vitality of her faith and by her magnanimous commitment to improve the lot of anyone she met who was less fortunate.

Ruthanne was born on August 27 1923 to Dan and Lizzy Sheehy, and raised, along with her brother “Dinny' and sister Mary (Baxter), in Nipomo. Her mother was a proud descendant of the David Dana family, pioneering Nipomo residents and ranchers; Ruthanne took great pleasure in the heritage she shared with so many of her relatives. She was also proud of her father's Irish ancestry, of his gregarious good nature and his success as a pitcher for the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League, and later in ranching, farming and, briefly, in politics. Ruthanne undoubtedly derived her lifelong enthusiasm for sports under his tutelage. She was educated in Nipomo's two-room primary schoolhouse and then at Arroyo Grande High School, where she graduated as president of the Class of 1941. The experience of losing, in the darkest days of WWII, almost half of her senior class to Japanese internment camps would profoundly shape her later political interests and viewpoints.

After spending three semesters at Santa Maria Junior College (later Allan Hancock College), where she was editor of its campus newspaper, Ruthanne turned down a full scholarship to Columbia University to attend UC Berkeley. She majored in history and political science (and played on the university's tennis team), and spurned an invitation to join a sorority so that she could experience the diversity of life offered at Berkeley's International House. Her fondest college memory was of a class she took with numerous war refugees that was taught by one of the constitutional architects of the Weimar Republic. Upon graduating with honors, she became one of a handful of women to take up legal studies at Boalt Hall, UC Berkeley's College of Law.

Ruthanne worked briefly after that as a journalist in Fall River Mills CA before moving to Washington DC. After compiling entries for the Encyclopedia Britannica, she landed a job with US government intelligence agencies, a period in which the wartime Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was being absorbed by its successor, the CIA. While in the nation's capital, she was befriended by Fr. Charles Corriston, a brilliant and convivial Benedictine abbot. Along with several other ambitious young women who would grow into lasting friends, she became a lifelong Benedictine oblate.

To her parents' relief, Ruthanne finally abandoned her peripatetic life and career, earned a teachers' credential and began teaching English and history at Santa Maria High School. Even in her extreme old age, former students remembered with affection her practiced delivery and the tough demands she placed on them in the classroom. And her teaching skills followed her forever: a frequent substitute teacher in her children's schools, she taught countless local children to sew as a leader for fifteen years of the Bonita 4-H. She also instructed generations of young Casmalia inhabitants in catechism classes. In her later years, she taught religion to young residents at the Juvenile Hall in Santa Maria, and helped many others to improve their English, their writing, and their embrace of the Catholic faith.

On a blind date arranged by mutual friends in the late 1940s, Ruthanne met a handsome young rancher who would become her partner and the love of her life. They were married on August 5, 1950, and nine months and three days later (the math always mattered to her), they welcomed Elizabeth, the first of their five children, to their home in Casmalia. From the beginning of their marriage, and in addition to raising four other children, Ruthanne was involved with Dave in their cattle and real estate businesses. After his death in 1998, she continued to run a cow-calf operation for almost a decade, and to oversee the small collection of rental properties that had carried them through the toughest times. It was impossible for anyone who knew them, and especially their children, to miss the value they attached to a strong work ethic.

After their children had grown, Ruthanne and Dave found time to travel frequently to Europe, to take college classes, to attend professional conferences, and to become involved in numerous community groups. Ruthanne was a member for years of the Catholic Daughters of America, of St. Mary's Church Altar Society, of a local women's investment group known as the Stockettes, of a Thursday luncheon circle at Little Jocko's in Nipomo, and of a bible class at St. Louis de Montfort Church which, until the very last months of her life, fed her insatiable intellectual curiosity.

Ruthanne, who was predeceased by husband and her youngest grandson, Jack Ready, is survived by her five children: Elizabeth Tompkins Bilich, Mary Tompkins Lewis, Nick Tompkins, Bridget Tompkins Ready and Nora Tompkins Comee, twelve grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. They will forever cherish her memory, honor her indefatigable spirit, and bask in the glow of the love, faith and constant good humor that shapes her legacy.

Memorial services include a rosary at Magner-Maloney Funeral Home in Santa Maria at 6 p.m. on Monday April 23, and a funeral mass on Tuesday April 24 at 10 a.m. at St. Louis de Montfort Church. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Jack's Helping Hand, a non-profit charitable foundation established in memory of Ruthanne's late grandchild.

Sympathy notes and words of support may be expressed at www.magnermaloney.com.








Ray Allen, Jr.

Ray Allen, Jr. of Paso Robles died at home on his ranch on March 23, 2018, surrounded by his children. He was 86. Ray Allen, Jr. was born in Idaho during the Great Depression, and raised by hardworking, loving Christian parents. He says he fondly remembers attending a one-room school with his mom for his teacher. Ray Jr. and all the kids rode horses to school and to visit each other at neighboring ranches, in all kinds of weather; he says he wanted to be a cowboy from the time he was small. Ray got his wish; he was a working cowboy and horseman for life. At the age of 14, Ray helped run his older brother's ranch while that brother was flying fighter planes in Europe during WWII. After a year of college, Ray volunteered to serve his country in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean war. It was while home on leave that he met his wife, Marabel "Mike" Clements, to whom he was married for 60 years until her death in 2015. Ray and Mike worked on ranches throughout Nevada and California during their lifetime, while raising three children and contributing to both the Thoroughbred Industry and the Cattle Industry. In his very accomplished life, Ray always made time to participate in his kid's sports events, be it rodeo, baseball, softball or basketball. He was absolutely devoted to his wife and children, and later to the grandkids and great-grand- kids who came along, teaching them all how to ride and how to conduct themselves. He always contributed to his community as well, and never failed to help a neighbor. Throughout his life, Ray modeled selflessness, service, and gratitude. As a life-long Christian believer, Ray always sought to follow the "Golden Rule" as taught by Jesus: "Do to others what you want them to do to you." Ray was named 2010 Cattleman of the Year for San Luis Obispo County, 2004 Santa Barbara Fiesta Honorary Vaquero, and he was inducted into the California Mid-State Fair Hall of Fame (along with Mike) in 2016. He was a long-time member of Rancheros Visitadores, and a member of the Creston Community Church. Ray is survived by his three children: Terri Allen Woods, Vicki Allen Penwell (and husband Scott) and Craig Allen (and wife Katy); six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, all who hope to carry on his legacy and follow the example he set for an exemplary life well lived. A memorial service will be held at 5:30 pm, Friday, March 30, 2018, at the Paso Robles Fairgrounds / Event Center in the Frontier Pavilion, 2198 Riverside Ave., Paso Robles, CA 93446, with a barbecue to follow hosted by SLO Cattlemen's Association. In lieu of flowers, Ray wanted contributions to go to his favorite family charity, Mercy In Action (online at: www.mercyinaction.org or by mail to: Mercy In Action, 3018 W. Overland Road, Boise, Idaho 83705).

Published in San Luis Obispo County Tribune on Mar. 27, 2018

Clarence Donati 

Clarence Albert Donati 1926 - 2018 On March 15, 2018, Clarence Albert Donati passed away at the age of 92. Clarence was born in Santa Maria on January 26, 1926, at the Lucas Sanitarium. He was the youngest of seven children born to Louis Clorindo and Lillian Becwar Donati. Clarence lived and worked in the Santa Maria Valley his entire life. After graduating from Santa Maria High School with the class of 1944, he entered the U.S. Army in April of 1945. Clarence was stationed in Inchon, South Korea with the 762nd Engineer Light Equipment Company as a construction equipment repair foreman. He supervised the work of six enlisted mechanics in the repair and maintenance of cranes, bulldozers, and road graders, and was honorably discharged in November 1946 as a Technical Sergeant. Clarence met Nancy Boden in 1944 while they were attending Santa Maria High School. They were married in 1947 and were blessed with a family of six children. His family and friends were extremely important to him. Clarence farmed for over 40 years, first with The Donati Family Farm on Donovan Road, and later he started his own farming operation near the town of Garey, CA. He also co-owned and managed Romar Carrot Company in Guadalupe, and managed Santa Maria Chili from 1980 until his retirement in 1988. Clarence embraced his retirement years. Nancy and he toured the United States, Mexico and Alaska in their RV. He enjoyed gardening, woodworking, winemaking, projects around the house, helping other family members with projects, as well as being a weekly regular on the golf course. Clarence was a member and a volunteer of the Santa Maria Valley Pioneer Association for many years and served as president from 1987-1989. When a new Pioneer Park was needed Clarence was the driving force in getting the park built from the ground up. Clarence recruited donations of equipment, materials, money and the help of many volunteers. Clarence and his team of volunteers transformed 15 acres of bare land into what is known today as Pioneer Park. Clarence was a longtime member of the Santa Maria Elks Lodge, a member and volunteer for the Santa Maria Valley Historical Society Museum, a member of the City of Santa Maria Landmark Committee, and a proud member of the Men's ROMEO Club. Clarence was preceded in death by his father and mother and his six siblings: Samuel Donati, Clifford Donati, Margaret (Donati) Corcoran, Edith (Donati) Handel, Evelyn (Donati) Liebert, and Louis C. Donati Jr. Clarence is survived by his wife of 70 years, Nancy Boden Donati; and his six children: Jane (Herschel) Rouse, Leslie (Will) Webb, George (Kristi) Donati, Jim (Chrissy) Donati, John (Carole) Donati and Tricia (Mike) Bouquet; 14 grand- children; 14 great-grand- children; one great-great grandchild; and numerous nieces and nephews. Visitation will begin at 5:00 pm, Wednesday, March 21, 2018, followed by the Recitation of the Holy Rosary at 6:00 pm in the Chapel of Magner-Maloney Funeral Home. Mass of Christian Burial was 10:00 am, Thursday, March 22, 2018, at St. Louis deMontfort Church. Interment will be private. Memorial contributions can be made to the Clarence Donati Family Scholarship Fund at St. Joseph High School, 4210 S. Bradley Rd., Santa Maria, CA 93455 or to St. Mary of the Assumption School, 424 E. Cypress St., Santa Maria, CA 93454. Sympathy notes and words of support may be expressed at www.magnermaloney.com

Albert Alden Lewis

Albert Alden Lewis passed away peacefully at home on March 4, 2018. He was born to Robert "Bob" George Lewis and Alberta Stone Lewis in San Luis Obispo, California on July 16, 1952. His childhood was spent on the family ranch in Carrisa Plains, California. Albert always enjoyed a good calf branding and was an avid team roper from childhood. Leasing his first ranch right out of high school, he continued a lifetime of ranching. Long hours were spent farming through the seventies. He built and operated ready mix, masonry block manufacturing and sand and gravel businesses throughout his life. Albert's first love, the cattle business, was the backbone of his livelihood. Seeing a good load of Mexican steers through to their finish at the feed yard gave him great satisfaction of a job well done. Albert was an avid member of Rancheros Visitadores, past president of the Paso Robles Trail Ride and an active board member of Creston Classic Rodeo. He enjoyed traveling the western United States team roping at the Reno Invitational, World Series Finale, Arizona winter ropings and any small jackpot in between with his family. Albert is survived by his wife, Judy Lewis; daughter, Elizabeth Shadle; son, Alden Lewis; son-in-law, Jon Shadle; daughter-in-law, Magali Lewis; grandchildren: Ella Shadle and Lucas Lewis; mother, Alberta Lewis; sisters: Susan Cochrane and husband Bill, Georgia Prossick and husband Jim; and brother, Robert Lewis; one nephew and seven nieces. His father, Robert Lewis; and niece, Savannah Lewis preceded him in death. A Celebration of Life will be held March thirty first at Navajo Ranch in his memory.

Published in San Luis Obispo County Tribune on Mar. 13, 20

Gene Mehlschau

Peter Gene Mehlschau, 83, resident of Nipomo, CA passed away March 25, 2018. Gene was an important part of the farming community for his entire life. He served Farm Bureau and other organizations well. In 2017, he was honored with a San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau Heritage Award. He served with distinction on the Farm Supply Board of Directors, which was fitting since his family was a found member of the Farm Supply Cooperative.

Arrangements are under the direction of Dudley-Hoffman Mortuary, Crematory and Memory Gardens. www.dudleyhoffmanmortuary.com.


Martin Shiffrar

Martin Leopold Shiffrar, a long-time resident of Santa Maria, California passed away on Sunday, March 18th, 2018 in Bend, Oregon at the age of 97 years old.

Martin was born on April 10, 1920 in Nipomo, California to parents Joseph and Mary Shiffrar. He was the third of twelve children. He attended Arroyo Grande High School and went on to Alan Hancock College to learn the trade of welding. After working as a ship builder and a ranch hand on the John Wineman Ranch, he was drafted into the Army in 1945. Martin was sent to Europe to work as a Counter Intelligence Corps Agent. While serving his country, Martin met Rosemarie Neuhauser, who he married in 1947. They were married for 69 years. After returning to America, Martin resumed his work at the Wineman Ranch. In 1957, he went to work for Jake Will at Coast Rock Products in Garey as an Operations Manager. He worked there for 28 years until his retirement in 1985. As a special retirement gift, he was presented with a new Ford Pickup and a once in a lifetime elk hunting trip. With his life-long friend, Steve Wineman, they packed into the wilderness of Idaho and came back with a beautiful 6 point bull and countless pictures and stories. He never left the rock crushing business far behind though remaining a consultant for many years following retirement for Union Asphalt.

His retirement years found him most days back in Nipomo. In partnership with his daughter and son-in-law, he was active leasing ranches to run a cow-calf operation. His granddaughters also kept him busy building livestock equipment for their 4H projects and going to the County fair to watch all of the 4Hers show their animals. One could find him busy hauling tack boxes, display boards and equipment to and from the fair. His favorite place for lunch was Jockos. He could eat the Jocko's salsa faster than the waitresses could put it on the table. As a member of Farm Bureau, Rosemarie and Martin were able to go on many trips throughout the States. They were able to travel back to Rosemarie's home in Germany to visit with her family and see the sites that he had left behind so long ago. After Rosemarie's death in March 2016, he went to live at the Hermreck Ranch in Central Oregon. Even at the age of 97, he still enjoyed riding in the Polaris to check cows and seeing the deer and the elk.

He will always be remembered as loving to spend time with his family, socializing with friends at the Elks Club, riding horses, reading a good novel and hunting. A good meal with apricot pie for dessert was his favorite.

Martin was preceded in death by his wife, Rosemarie Shiffrar and his siblings: Joe Shiffrar, Mary Shiffrar, Arthur Shiffrar and Donald Shiffrar. He is survived by his daughter, Susie Hermreck, his son-in-law, Andrew Hermreck, his two granddaughters, Jill Layton and Anne Jenks, his grandson-in-laws, Derek Layton and Elliot Jenks, and his four great grandchildren, Jack Goodwin, Avery Layton and Walker and Mason Jenks. He is also survived by siblings Louise Walsh, George Shiffrar, Dolores Brum, Betty Tremper, Barbara Faulkner, Richard Shiffrar and Harold Shiffrar.

Donations may be made to San Ramon Chapel c/o St Louis de Montfort Church, 5075 Harp Rd, Santa Maria, CA 93455 or a youth organization of your choice.

The Recitation of the Holy Rosary will be at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27th in the Chapel of Magner-Maloney Funeral Home. Mass of Christian Burial will be 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 28th, 2018 at St. Joseph's Church in Nipomo. Interment will follow in the original section of the Santa Maria Cemetery.

Arrangements are in the care of Magner-Maloney Funeral Home and Crematory. Sympathy notes and words of support may be expressed at www.magnermaloney.com.