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The Wileys Say Thanks

Dear Editor,

For our dear and wonderful friends and neighbors! The Wiley and Sanders families, respectively, wish to express their sincerest gratitude and heartfelt thanks to the people who contributed so generously to the David Wiley Memorial Trust Funds, and same to the memorial services that were held in the memory of David C. Wiley.

Both families wish everyone God's blessing and good tidings through the holidays.




Bruno Hicklin, Old-timer, Dies

Bruno Frederick Hicklin died Thursday, December 21, 2000, at his home in Reseda. Mr. Hicklin was born March 9, 1920 in San Diego, California. He was an Army veteran who served in Europe during World War II. He participated in the D-Day Invasion, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, and helped to liberate Germany.

He moved to Topanga soon after release from the army where he bought a small parcel of land off Topanga Canyon Boulevard. In 1951 he bought a house on North Oakwood Drive, where he lived until 1998. Many Topanga residents will remember Bruno from his days as a lifeguard at Stewart's Pool at Camp Wildwood in the late 1950's. He worked for the Beverly Hills Fire Department until he retired in 1975 after 27 years of service. Following his retirement Mr. Hicklin spent a good deal of time traveling the United States, mostly by bicycle, including a journey with friend Bill McGray, also a Topanga resident, traveling from the Canadian border to the Mexican border, along the Pacific coastline.

Bruno is survived by his sister Francis Carr Downing, a former Topanga resident now living in Waterford, California, his four children, Suzan Hicklin-Northstar, F. Mallory Hicklin, Pamela Hicklin (Carson Rogers-Jansen), Reynold F. Hicklin, and his five grandchildren, Paige, Jeremey, Mercedes, Lara and Cameron. A private service will be held in the near future. In lieu of flowers please send a gift to the charity of your choice in his name.


Bait Shop Friend Passes

Bob Wylie stands in the bait shop he and Ginny ran for almost 50 years.

By Penny Taylor

Bob and Ginny have run Wylie's Bait Shop on PCH for almost 50 years, befriending and serving three generations of customers. So it was a blow to everyone when Bob passed away on December 15th, suffering heart failure after a short battle with cancer.

Born in Missouri in 1927, Bob's family also lived in Oklahoma before crossing the plains when he was 8 or 9 and settling in Culver City.

He served in the Navy in World War II and came to the bait shop shortly thereafter in 1946. The bait shop became his life.

A fisherman's day begins early so Bob had to be there even earlier. He'd often stand on Topanga Beach and watch dawn awakening over the ocean he loved so much before opening the bait shop at 5 a.m., 7 days a week.

Grandfathers brought their grandchildren and the grandchildren, now grown, brought their children.
There is a comfortable steadfastness to be found there among the fishing pictures on the wall, the tackle and lures, the bait freezer and funny, buck-toothed coconut heads hanging from the ceiling.
He was an institution. The crusty, straight-forward man who took guff from no man and showed the patience of Job if a young child was willing to learn. He taught many a young person to tie their hooks and said, "You have to have an educated thumb."

Status and fame weren't measuring sticks in his book. He served the Malibu/Hollywood elite the same as a poor man out fishing for his dinner. Everyone got a big chuckle when he refused to take a check from Goldie Hawn. He had no idea who she wasand he just didn't take checks.

Bob loved the desert as much as he did the ocean and would go out rock collecting and panning for gold. His other get away place was Alaska. He made two fishing trips up north with Bill Rhodes and friends. On one trip they stayed at a duck camp. The area was marshy and they had to cross a small, deep creek and be extremely careful about where they walked. Bill's eyes twinkled with laughter as he told about how they heard a splash and turned around to see Bob. Only his eyes and the top of his head were still showing in the muck.

But even when he was away, he was always thinking about the store. It's the only bait shop that has survived along the coast between Santa Monica and Ventura. Gone are the days when they could go out and dig clams right off Topanga Beach.

Memorial services were held on Saturday, January 6. Bob will be greatly missed and probably had no idea how many lives he touched. Ginny still runs the store and there are still echoes of Bob amidst the netting, old wood floors and fishermen who will swap tales of Bob in the years to come.


Remembering Frank Sass

By Michele Johnson

Frank Sass, 62, an auto body "artist" and Topanga resident for most of the last 30 years, recently died of natural causes. He moved here from New Jersey in the 1960s, and though he died at his residence in Glendora, his friend Rick Provisor said he spent more than half the time living on Provisor's property in Topanga. "He was a sweet, crotchety old guy," Provisor said.
His life wasn't always easy. An only child, his parents died when he was young, and he was raised by his grandparents. Frank was born with a spinal problem, aggravated by a later bicycle accident that, after a series of surgeries, left him partially crippled.

After settling in Topanga, he opened a car restoration business below the American Legion post (now Froggy's). His old friend Rose Wiley, who chuckled and called him "independent, irascible," said that he numbered the rich and famous among his clients, and was even once brought to Hawaii to restore a boat. Ron Denend found him "cantankerous," but "a wonderful guy. He had lots of friends."

And, he agreed, "He was an excellent artist. He could do the most incredible paint job." He eventually closed his Topanga shop, and began working out of a series of body shops. In recent years, he worked for Richard Sherman, restoring his old trucks. Still a very sociable guy, he'd often drop by Mark and Becky Nygard's place in Topanga to talk. "He was really sweet," remembered Becky.

Frank was an avid reader, recently most interested in Native American history and culture and Tony Hillerman novels. He loved '50s and '60s rock 'n' roll, and though he couldn't dance, was a follower of the scene at the old Corral rock club in Topanga. He'd recently been having chest pains, but had refused to go to the doctor, Rose believes, because "he related doctors to more pain." His friends see his passing as yet another sad loss of a "middle old-timer," said Denend.


John Espey: 1913-2000

By Clara Sturak

John Espey, novelist, scholar, professor of English, long-time Topangan, has died. Born in Shanghai in 1913 of missionary parents, he journeyed to California at the age of 18, graduated from Occidental College, and became a Rhodes Scholar (Merton College, Oxford, class of 1935).

John Epsey

John Espey full of joie de vivre--and his companion Carolyn See's daughter Clara Sturak.

He returned to Los Angeles during the depression to teach at Occidental, and early realized that his true literary material was his quirky childhood. He turned the clash of American and Chinese cultures into a series of witty, affectionate, sometimes scathing reminiscences of his own youth, printed first in The New Yorker, and later collected in three anthologies, Minor Heresies, Tales Out of School, and The Other City. He went on to write two classic California novels, The Anniversaries and An Observer. He became, as well, a ground-breaking scholar of the works of Ezra Pound, publishing the first academic work on Pound's poem Mauberley.

In the '40s, Espey left Occidental to teach at UCLA. He was the very antithesis of the "suffering artist of the twentieth century," delighting, in teaching his students to sing "Green Grow the Rushes, Oh!," collapsing them in improbable gales of laughter as he taught the most arcane facts about Eliot, Pound, and especially Yates. He was an academic father to his students, often lending them money, buying them chocolates and champagne to cheer them along their hard academic paths.

He was a true man of letters. His later years were given over to an astonishing array of learned projects. He collected and annotated (with his friend Charles Gullans) the decorated cloth bindings of artist Margaret Armstrong, and was working on a bibliography of American publishers Stone & Kimball at the time of his death.

While living in Topanga, he wrote a series of satiric haiku, complete with faux academic commentary-"The Empty Box Haiku"-which was later studied with perfect Germanic seriousness in European doctoral dissertations. He collaborated with Carolyn See and Lisa See under the name "Monica Highland," writing several historical novels (which they fondly thought of as "airplane literature for smart people"). He also published two early, darker works-which he had worried might offend his earnest Protestant parents-Strong Drink, Strong Language, and Winter Return. Stories from his first books were re-released in 1994 as Minor Heresies, Major Departures.

John lived in Topanga for 25 years. He loved the place, and especially the people in it. He could be seen almost daily at the post office catching up on news and gossip, driving locals home or to the beach, and dining on minestrone soup at Rocco's. He always had an ear and a kind word for his friends in the Canyon, and could be counted on to help out whenever help was needed. Over the years excerpts of many of his works were printed in the fiction issues of the Messenger. He was pleased to be part of the Topanga writing community. Mostly, though, he was proud to be a Topangan, and to be a good neighbor. Although he and Carolyn moved to the Palisades two years ago, his heart remained in the canyon, where he will be remembered by all who knew him as a kind, charming, and witty man who was as at home clearing brush as he was quoting Pound.

John's interests were wide, his mind amazing. But what made him unique was his giddy love of life, which approached heedlessness at times, and the high esteem in which he was held by his family, friends and students.

He is survived by his companion of 27 years, Carolyn See, his daughters Susan and Alice Espey, his son-in-law Ralph Heidsiek, See's daughters Lisa See and Clara Sturak and their families, and a grandson, Jordan Espey.

In Lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to The UCLA Foundation: John Espey Fund, c/o Victoria Steele, Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Library, UCLA, 415 Hilgard Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90095.

Remembering John Espey:
A Poem by Scott Wannberg

The heart is a dancefloor of words
and music, the heart is
a country of imagination, where
possibility is the tune that
we find ourselves moving our feet
to. John Espey created light and
tossed it whimsically across open mouthed
darkness. He broke bread with
Ezra Pound and sang bass with
poets of love. John Espey is
a verb and ongoing is the word that
drives us toward recuperation and
feeling. John played all the
instruments of now, built cities of
metaphor and called them
good morning and hello.
John Epsey sailed the jazz
progression and partied
verbally with animals of
hope. Feel his music in
the way the blood tosses its
hair back in the wind. Feel
his language in the attempt
of the Earth to learn
how to relax. Feel his
heart in the next song
that sings you.

Remembering John Epsey



 Tony McKissack: A Caring Man

By Penny Taylor


 Friends gathered at the Topanga Christian Fellowship Church in Topanga on Sunday, October 8 for a memorial service for Tony LaVernon McKissack who passed away from cancer on October 5th.

Tony's battle with cancer was a grueling ordeal, but his companion, Christine Adkins, says he faced it like a warrior, battling every step of the way.

Tony was born in Dextor, Missouri on March 20, 1958. His roots were in Missouri and Alabama and Mimi Smith described him as a "true Southern Gentleman."

He came to Topanga at the end of 1987 and went to work for local contractors. Ron Denend said, "He worked his ass for me." Others he worked for and worked with all remember him as a hard worker who was always willing to go the extra mile.

A young Amanda recalled his gift of a bike. Murphy told the story of when he broke his leg on a hillside. When he called for help Tony was one of those who showed up and got him to the hospital. The most common image of Tony was as a man who maintained a positive attitude and never reflected on the negative in someone. He was always willing to help someone who needed it and was appreciative of kindnesses people showed him.

Somewhat shy, it wasn't widely known that he sang and played the guitar. He had a soft, true, melodious voice. People also enjoyed his laugh. It was said that when Tony laughed, the whole room laughed.

Tony is survived by his father Robert Lester, his mother, Lucille Richardson of Oregon and his brother Bill.

Above all, people wanted Tony to be remembered as a caring man with a good soul whose warmth and compassion touched their lives. He will be missed.

Simon Taylor's caricature captures Tony's essence.


  Charlie Edmondson Passes

Charles (Charlie) Arthur Edmondson, 85, passed away peacefully at his home in Nipomo, California on Wednesday, September 27, 2000 with loving family members by his side. He was born in Bradford, Yorkshire, England, July 17, 1915. He emigrated to the United States in 1949 with his wife Betty (Skirrow) Edmondson (who preceded him in death in 1968), and three children. Charles became a United States citizen in 1958. He leaves behind his wife Barbara Ann Edmondson, two sons, Andrew John (Boulder, Colorado), Paul Robert (Santa Maria) and two daughters Pamela Mary Lettieri/Brown (California Valley) and Penny Hanstad (Chino Hills), ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He has four surviving sisters-Stella Morgan, Laura Pickels, Minnie Wilson, Margaret Pierce-Carey-and one brother, George Edmondson all living in England and one cousin, Jack Robinson (San Diego) as well as nieces and nephews in England, Australia and Dubai.

He received his Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Leeds, England, worked for the British Post Office Telephone Company from 1937 to 1949, General Telephone Company in Santa Monica from 1949 to 1959, ITT-Kellogg, FEC/ITT, SAMTO at Vandenberg Air Force Base from 1959 to 1972 where he was directly involved in engineering, design, installation and implementation of Communication Systems required to support the needs of the United States Air Force, Western Test Range. During his time at Vandenberg he received numerous accommodations for his work. After his departure from Vandenberg he worked in Spain and Jordan for ITT until 1979, then for The Aerospace Corporation until 1986. From 1986 to 1990 he was a private consultant in the communication world. He was never out of work from 1937 until his retirement in 1990. He and his first wife Betty owned and operated the Red Viking restaurant in Buellton from 1962 to 1968.

He served in the Royal Air Force in Great Britain from 1939 to 1941. He was the manager of the Irish National Greyhound (motorcycle racing) Team in 19 5 1. He was actively involved with the Boy Scouts of America in Topanga, Ca. from 1953 to 1958. He was Chairman of the North America Rugby Football League in 1959. He was a Trustee of the PTA in Topanga from 1959 to 1960. He was a member of the Board of Directors for the Missile Space Recreation Association on Vandenberg AFB from 1965 to 1970 and also served as President and Vice President of the MSRA from 1968 to 1970. He owned and operated The Cedars Lodge in Coffee Creek, California from 1987 to 1996. He was active in the Central Coast Salmon Enhancement Program in 1990, San Luis Obispo Railroad Centennial in 1990 and the Dana Adobe Restoration Project in Nipomo from 1999 to 2000.
Charles was a world traveler and to celebrate his final journey, at 12 noon on October 28, 2000, there will be a Barbecue Celebration for friends and family at the Los Alamos County Park in Santa Barbara County. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make contributions to your favorite charity in his name. Cremation was requested with the cremains to be scattered at sea.





Bobby Morris:

"Gonna see my baby again. Gonna be with some of my friends.
Maybe I'll feel better again On Blue Bayou"

- from Bobby Morris's favorite song, "Blue Bayou"

By Tony Morris

Robert "Bobby" Morris took his own life on August 25th. He was 54 years old. A friend to many Topangans, he moved here from Oklahoma with his parents in the 1950s and lived on Bonnell Drive. His father was a professional horse trainer and Bobby had always wanted to be a jockey but grew too tall. When his parents moved away from Topanga, Bobby was raised by the Marshburns and the Vetters.


Bobby Morris in Topanga.



Left to right, Yedvart Tchakerian, Ron (R.D.) Denend and Danny Tucker lead a toast to Bobby at his memorial service.

Early on Bobby made friends with the rock'n'rollers living in the Canyon. David Briggs, Neil Young's producer, asked him to come to Toronto to work on a studio for Young. He knew the Eagles and loved the songs of Gene Pitney and Roy Orbison. Ric Ryder recalled Bobby as "the best doorman the Corral ever had." Bobby worked at different times for Jonas Hardy, Dick Sherman and Ron Denend. Topangans referred affectionately to RD and Bobby as "Fric and Frac." He played for the Topanga Outlaws baseball team and was a master of sports statistics.

On Saturday, September 10, friends gathered at the California Trail (formerly Marco Polo's) to remember Bobby Morris. Many shared tales about Bobby and Jonas Hardy sang and played his guitar. All of those gathered toasted a friend who had left this planet too soon.


  Beverly Zinszer Dies of Cancer


 Beverly Ann (Avery) Zinszer, age 66, passed away on August 24 at the home of her daughter in Long Beach, California. Beverly had been fighting a battle with cancer for the last two years. Her husband, Harvey Zinszer; sister, Nancy Spunt; and children, Cynthia Desatoff, Ronald Zinszer, Pamela Pisano and Debra Kalamaro were at her bedside. A memorial service will be held at the Self-Realization Fellowship in Pacific Palisades on September 9 at 11:00 a.m. Beverly was a graduate of Hayes High School and attended Kansas State University in Fort Hayes.

Beverly lived in the family home at 20110 Observation Drive which she and her husband built 30 years ago, and where she was involved in an acting career. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to the Avon Breast Cancer Three-Day Walk. Her son, Ron, and his wife participated in this three-day, 60-mile walk from Santa Barbara to Malibu from October 27-29 in memory of Beverly. Money raised from the walk will go to fund breast cancer awareness, education and research.

Donations can be made out to Avon Breast Cancer Three-Day and sent to the Zinszer Del Rey residence at 14034 Marquesas Way, Unit C, Marina Del Rey, California 90292.


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