Morro Bay’s John Weiss Governs California’s Rotary District 5240

Early in June 40,000 Rotarians converged on Atlanta, Georgia for the annual Rotary International (RI) Convention to celebrate and introduce the new leadership for RI zones, regions and districts worldwide. Onsite and digital networking introduced over 1.2 million members to current hot topics: world peace, the scourge of human trafficking, and a celebration noting polio impending eradication.

Encompassing China Lake to Westlake to Cambria, District 5240 has 74 clubs with 3,285 members. Approximately 170 members explored the Atlanta Zoo welcoming its newest District Governor (DG), Morro Bay’s John Weiss. San Luis Obispo County Rotary Clubs have produced at least seven DGs: Brenda Cressey, Paso Robles (2001-02), Frank Ortiz, Santa Maria (2012-13), Loretta Butts, Atascadero (2014-15) and from Morro Bay: Mac Little (1978-79), Walt Milburn (1983-84), who proudly promoted voting to bring women into Rotary his year, and Chungsam Doh (1998-99), a transferred member to Morro Bay from Bakersfield by way of South Korea.

Professionally, Weiss has owned and operated Coast Electronics, a consumer electronics retailer focused on customer service in Morro Bay for 39 years expanding recently to San Luis Obispo and Buellton. “I joined Morro Bay Rotary in 2001, which led me to serve on the Chamber of Commerce board in 2003.” Weiss was Chamber board president 2006-7-8 and 2011. “When you give back to your community your business, family and community will benefit.”

A three-year training program prepares DG’s to provide leadership, motivation, and guidance to Rotary clubs under the general supervision of the RI Board of Directors, but first they’re trained to serve as club presidents before consideration to serve at the district level. Weiss was club president in Morro Bay 2009-10. A few highlights of his year were creating the ongoing Public Heroes program recognizing non-Rotarians serving Morro Bay, reinvigorating a golf tournament to include high school golfers, establishing Eco Rotary Clubs in Morro Bay and Pismo, and chartering a college Rotaract and a high school Interact club. His focus on youth and membership services was noticed by District Governor Deepa Wellingham, who invited him to serve on her team in 2010-11.

Based on a record of service, a district governor candidate must be invited. Campaigning will disqualify a nominee. After serving at the club level, then four years at the district level, Weiss was nominated by Morro Bay Rotarian Jeff Jones. He was interviewed by a panel of twelve, RI’s parliamentarian and two past DGs. Once selected training intensified. Weiss explained 535 global DG nominees convened at an International Assembly in San Diego. “It was five days nine to five and they take roll daily.” He has also participated in district training sessions for the 74 club president nominees for the past two years. His team plans the training meetings for 2017-18.

By the end of his DG year he will have presented at all 74 district clubs, chaired an October celebratory District Conference and inaugurated an Interact Conference as well as attend numerous club socials and fund raising events logging untold miles and time away from business and home. “Most DGs have completed their club visits by November,” said Weiss. “With an active business I’m a working district governor so I’m scheduling them out through the year. Luckily I have a scheduler, Deb Linden, to get me where I need to be, who I’ll see and what to wear.”

The good news is a DG selects a staff of 50 to help plan, executive and support district activities. Weiss’ SLO team members include Deb Linden, Michael Boyer, Connie Henley, Jeanne Potter, Mike Pond, and Melinda Thomas. “Assessing the president nominees, it was huge that 75% wanted to focus our year on Youth Services, which has been my passion for two years.” The better news is “My staff is amazing.” Their goals include networking millennials and baby-boomers to refine ideas and future action plans.

The best news is the support Weiss has from his wife Christine McDonald Weiss, “You need the support of your partner before going down this road. Christine has been at my side during all the training while running her successful realty company. She’s picked up so much, which is a testament to Rotary’s training for leaders and their partners.”

Now ready to serve, Weiss advocates, “The business of Rotary is to bring smiles in our community – our world — and that’s all the payment we need.”



Celebrating Love Connection in Cayucos

In 1997 Doug and Diane Pankey were first time visitors to the annual 4th of July celebration in Cayucos. She had no idea Doug had planned something she would remember for a lifetime. They had only been a couple for six months, but their January first date proved they had much in common. And while busy in their San Joaquin Valley careers – she a polymer chemist and he a flooring contractor — Doug knew he was thinking marriage to Diane.

He shared their story and his upcoming plans for a return visit to Cayucos 20 years later. “I found myself falling in love with Diane but I wasn’t sure if she felt the same until Diane’s sister Brenda and best friend Lori spilled the beans that Diane was also in love. To be truthful,” he admitted, “the idea of marriage scared me in the past but felt natural after meeting Diane.”

Once he figured out how he might afford to buy her engagement ring by selling his “prized” jet ski and working extra jobs, he puzzled about how he might pop the question. Diane had graduated from Cal Poly and they regularly visited her parents, Jerome and Marilyn Dowling, who lived in Paso Robles. “They often talked about the great fireworks show in Cayucos. It seemed logical to me that July 4th should be the day I pop the question, but how?” he wondered. “Finally, I came up with the idea of declaring my love for Diane to everyone at the fireworks show that would include her sister, parents and a few close friends by integrating the question into the fireworks show.”

Doug contacted the Cayucos Chamber of Commerce and run my idea past them. “They loved the idea and referred me to Mark Sylvara of Pyro Spectacular. Mark and I came up with the plan to create multiple six-feet tall letters on the end of the pier so that when ignited, it would be visible to all attendees of the show. The letters were created to ignite one at a time and continue to burn until all letters were burning at once revealing my proposal – “Marry Me Diane.”

He admits to being nervous not because he was worried about her answer to his marriage proposal, but because he wanted the entire plan to go perfectly without Diane being tipped off. His only confidante except the entire Cayucos Chamber of Commerce board and the staff of Pyro Spectacular was Diane’s sister, Brenda. He described his biggest challenge, “Just before they were ready to ignite the sign, a guy decided to stand directly in front of Diane. I asked him to move so Diane could see the display. At first, he was reluctant to move but I remember ‘persuading him’ in short order. At the time, Diane was kneeling on the beach and wasn’t really paying attention to the fireworks. Finally, I picked her up and said, ‘Look at that!’ pointing to the pier. As the letters ignited, it started to sink in.”

“Everyone on the beach was going crazy and cheering as the question was revealed,” he recalled. “I also remember the look in Diane’s face as she turned around to look at me to see if the display was for her. I was down and one knee with the ring and said ‘Well……will you?’ And SHE SAID ‘YES!’”

Today the couple lives in Ripon, CA. Diane has been a Real Estate Appraiser since 1998 and Doug has “had many job changes all in the real estate field…currently Realtor and Real Estate Investor.” They have two children, Daniel, 16, a “computer whiz who is on the Ripon High golf team and already has a few colleges lined up” and Kayla, their busy 7th grader who “cheers for the Ripon Chiefs, plays soccer, softball and has multiple hobbies.”


The family returned to celebrate during the 2017 Cayucos 4th Independence Day festivities with both their parents and siblings. Doug contacted Bill Shea, currently serving on the Cayucos California Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and discovered Mark Sylvara and Pyro Spectacular is still providing the fireworks off the Cayucos pier. “It will be 20 years ago this July 4th when I asked the love of my life, Diane Dowling, to marry me at the Grand Finale of the Cayucos show in 1997,” said Doug. “Twenty years and two kids later, I have not been back to Cayucos beach, but thought it would be pretty cool to re-celebrate that moment 20 years later.”

The community agreed as thousands and thousands meet in the California Beach town on the Pacific Highway 1 coastline to make their family memories during the Cayucos 4th Celebration. For 2018 details check out the Cayucos Lions Club, Cayucos Lioness Club, http://www.cayucos, and the Cayucos Chamber of Commerce



Tribute: Arley Robinson, Cayucos, CA

Cayucos lost a crusader and best friend April 27. After a brief illness Arley Robinson peacefully said goodbye at his Cayucos home to friends and attending family members, including daughters Lorraine Mackewich, Charlene Underbrink and grandson Jeremiah Hobbs.

Like clockwork dressed in his signature black capped ensemble, Arley made his community rounds collaborating on untold projects to benefit and beautify Cayucos. Friends and associates appreciated his get-it-done spirit, work ethic, fiscally responsible management, and entrepreneurial vision. Locals knew if you wanted to get something done in Cayucos, Arley Robinson was the go-to guy to join the team.

San Luis Obispo Supervisor Bruce Gibson said, “Arley was a wonderful friend and a quiet, constant presence in the community life of Cayucos. He spoke softly and was always willing to help support people, ideas and projects. That spirit has a lot to do with the strong sense of community evident in Cayucos today.” Gibson lauded Arley for his longtime efforts representing the Cayucos Lions Club managing the Veteran’s Hall operations and scheduling – successfully while turning a profit.


Thanks to Tom Jasper, Cayucos Senior Club and Cayucos Lions, for photo of Arley Robinson on the Cayucos, CA pier.

Arley was born in Mountainair, New Mexico in 1936. “While growing up on a small farm,” he said, “people pampered anything green.” Once he saw the beautiful green hills surrounding his new retirement community, he wanted to get involved in its preservation. In 1999 he too was inspired by Roger Lyon. He helped charter the Cayucos Land Conservancy, which has preserved lands from the Cayucos to Piedras Blancas. For 20 years he served as CLC’s Director of Finance and recently was designated Director Emeritus, the only member ever to receive such a distinction.

Used to working hard while owning restaurants in New Mexico, Bakersfield and Kingsburg, he remarked, “Whenever we find something we have a passion for, we’re never tired.”

The Cayucos Seniors Club might have been his foremost community passion. “My wife Edith signed me up. She knew I always needed something to stay busy.” He’d just completed a successful fund raising campaign working with Allyn and Lee Arnold on the Cayucos Pier Plaza & Dale Evers Sculpture so he volunteered to help the “ladies” with the annual rummage sale to help pay off the mortgage on the group’s Ocean Avenue properties. Arley realized an opportunity to fulfill a community need for a retail thrift store that would generate revenue for senior services all year long and provide opportunities for retired Seniors to utilize their talents.

Since 1990 Arley has served as President or VP for the group, including designee to serve on the replacement committees for the playground equipment at the park and beach and the Cayucos Pier Reconstruction Committee. While the club’s representative on the Commission on Aging, he said, “We’d tour numerous senior centers throughout the county and I was always proud our center was operated entirely by volunteers, members took care of business and watched out for each other. Active minds and bodies had purpose — contributing to their community and the quality of their own lives.”

Soon after he moved to Cayucos he was elected to serve on the Cayucos Citizens Advisory Council. Current chairman John Carsel said, “Arley was our institutional knowledge.  If there was an issue that involved Cayucos, Arley had background and inside information about it. His wisdom, polished manners and respect for others set a standard for all members of the CCAC to emulate.  He is so sorely missed already.”

Gregg and Mary Bettencourt told how Arley understood kids needed positive outlets to release their energies so fought a prolonged struggle to develop then keep the Skate Park next to the Veterans Hall. Always a patron of the arts, he was helpful establishing the Cayucos Art Gallery and regular community art classes inside the Vets Hall offered by his friend Al Musso. The sea-life mural on the pier’s public bathrooms, a permanent home for the Lost at Sea Memorial, clustering the Sea Glass Festival in and around the Veteran’s Hall and becoming a Charter Member of the Morro Bay Maritime Museum were more of his projects. He was honored as one of the Cayucos Education Foundation’s Men of the Year and loved planning his Grand Marshal “ride” in the 2014 Lion’s Club Independence Day parade.

Arley recognized hidden talents in people and gave them the chance to bloom just like the flowers he loved to grow. He recognized my mom, Pat McKaye, was primed with skills to manage the volunteer staffing to help him run the Cayucos Senior Center. From age 81 until she passed away at 92 he encouraged her passion, which gave her purpose, friends and the respect of a community called Cayucos. I’ll love and miss Arley forever for being her best friend in her later years. As will his friends in Cayucos, CA.

“At the Hop” Songwriter & Performer John Madara Living Large in Cambria, CA

A life well lived and still going strong at 80, Cambrian John Madara continues to build his legacy. “At the Hop” not only earned him a gold record, but is the title of the movie he plans to produce about Philly’s musical heyday. Why not? He lived the dream before he conquered La La Land.


“I grew up in the projects. Billy Jackson (future Columbia Record producer) was my best buddy,” he said. “We were ‘po’ not poor. I’d walk to the store and offer to carry groceries home for folks for tips. Seventy-five cents would buy ingredients for Grandma’s pasta Faggioli.” His Italian parents stressed a strong work ethic using one’s best talents. “My voice was my best instrument.”

The first-born of six, Madara had three jobs by age 17 – messenger for the Philadelphia Inquirer, gas station attendant and at a record shop. “My friends were my neighbors. I never knew color. Everybody’s colored. I marched with them in DC and Mississippi in the fifties and met Martin Luther King and John Lewis.” He’ll meet up with Lewis again this May in Philadelphia.

“I never planned a career in music,” he admitted, but when his first record “Be My Girl” reached national charts, his path showed potential. Madara’s R&B and Gospel roots struck “gold” in 1957. “That same year I co-wrote “Be The Bop” with Dave White. American Bandstand with Dick Clark had just gone national. He suggested bop was out and “At the Hop” was a better title.” Clark was right. Performed by Madara’s group Danny and the Juniors, the song went “gold” and was #1 for 7 weeks. A classic today, it was the first record to achieve that level of success. “I bought a record shop and met distributors picking up records. When I added a piano, the kids would play and ask about the gold record on the wall.” For many of those kids he would launch their careers – including Carl & the Commanders (“I Need Your Love”) and Maureen Gray (“Today’s the Day”). Madara co-wrote and/or produced mega hits like “Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay” for Danny and the Juniors, “The Fly” for Chubby Checker, “1-2-3” for Len Barry and “You Don’t Own Me” for Leslie Gore.  (

Madara also discovered future talents. Leon Huff was performing with The Lavenders in a nightclub. Huff later teamed with Kenny Gamble to become one of the most prolific songwriting teams in Rock ‘n Roll history. Madara and White co-produced many of their songs, including “Western Union Man.” The Spokesmen formed by Madara released the controversial answer song to Barry McGuire’s “Eve of Destruction” titled “The Dawn of Correction” – both featured in Time Magazine.  

Madara’s publishing company created in 1965 signed talents like Hall & Oates until he sold it to Michael Jackson in 1984. “Everything you learn you keep up here,” Madara said pointing to his brain.” He anticipated technology would change the sound of music – provide options never heard before. He’s been called an industry futurist. Certainly, his 60-year tenure is testimony Madara’s musical offerings are contemporary – “speaking clearly of given eras, but have equal impact on all eras.”

When Hollywood was where the record industry was growing, he moved his company west. Instantly, he launched into movies producing the soundtrack for “Cinderella Liberty” and accomplished prolific projects in television including music supervisor for the “Sid and Marty Kroft Comedy Hour.” With Quincy Jones, he arranged “You Don’t Own Me.” Still a classic, the song has sold over 400 million records internationally, been used in television shows, commercials, covered by multiple recording artists and was the theme of the movie “First Wives Club.”

Madara worked with greats like Wayne Newton in Las Vegas, John Williams, and the Beatles. While dating Joey Heatherton he toured as Bob Hope entertained the troops. His songs and productions have appeared on some of the biggest grossing soundtracks of all time, including “Hairspray,” and “Dirty Dancing.” More than 60 television shows have featured his songs, including “Donny and Marie,” “Laverne and Shirley,” “Sonny and Cher,” and most of Dick Clark’s productions.

“At the Hop” was voted into the top 100 songs of the century by the Recording Industry Association of America and in 2013 Madara was inducted into the Philadelphia Walk of Fame.

Madara’s youngest of three sons, San Francisco-based photographer Jason Madara suggested he and Christy relocate to Cambria fourteen years ago. He practices and touts healthy living for keeping him young.

Besides producing his movie “At the Hop” what else is on John Madara’s bucket list? “I’ve never done a CD of my own voice,” he said. “I have six new songs. If Tony Bennett can do it at 90, I can do it at 80.”

The Van Beurden Family: An Immigrant Success Story


Coming to America They Saw the Statue of Liberty — Her Plaque Reads: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Between 1940 and 1959 Cornelius and Maria van Beurden raised nine children. Sixty years ago, they sailed to America penniless yet optimistic, eager to begin again in Fresno and San Luis Obispo County. Approximately 70 van Beurdens — three generations — will celebrate this week at the Dutchman in Morro Bay.

“We’re immigrants,” said Bill about their arrival at Hoboken, NJ in 1957. “Americans born here have no idea what a big deal that was.” With humility and humor, pride and passion, he recounted their story.

“With no work in the Netherlands, our father lived in Indonesia. In 1940 Uncle Harry stood as proxy before Mother took a steamboat to join her husband. Cle was born first.” Bill explained. In 1917 Dutch law conscripted male residents living in Indonesia to serve the KNIL, the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army Air Force, created in 1830 to expand Dutch colonial rule. Until World War II, the KNIL was rarely challenged to protect the Dutch East Indies against foreign invasion.

“The year after I was born (1942) the Dutch were all but wiped out by the Japanese. They’d rotate us from one internment camp to the next — walking up to 50 miles. Father was taken from us to Sumatra to work on the railroad. We’d sleep on cots. There was no medicine, little food — soup, and open trenches for bathrooms. We were guarded by the Indonesians and Koreans who hated us. Mother’s work detail was taking care of the dead. The kids had to march by their caskets to honor them. Mother would sew jewelry into her hem, which she’d trade for food. She was caught a couple times and beat up.

“In August 1945 the war end, but I’m alive today because the smaller islands didn’t get the message. Orders were to kill all the POWs. The Japanese gave their guns to the Indonesians. They’d invade camps, kidnap and cut up the Dutch and float body parts down the river. One night our British-Indian Gupta guards heard the Indonesians were coming and woke us up and took us to a beach in a truck. I still have nightmares getting in a boat with sides and taken to another camp.

“By 1946 Mother didn’t know if her husband was alive, but they reunited and six weeks later we were transported on a refugee freighter back in Holland. I remember stuffing food in my pockets until the captain assured us we’d receive three meals a day while aboard. Uncle Harry greeted us in Rotterdam. He took us to a warehouse where the Salvation Army gave us clothes and shoes. I still donate back to them.

“At first Father was sick. Father had background in accounting so got a school job. The Americans were recruiting – showed us movies of California and palm trees. Even back then the vetting process was tough and long. The whole family had to be in perfect health. We were held up when they thought Cle had a spot on his lung. The X-ray was wrong. I was told I needed to make good grades or we couldn’t go so I studied hard. We sailed January 21, 1957, on the Southern Cross, a troop transporter, for nine days.

“Catholic Charities sponsored us. I still donate to them. We took a train to Fresno. Father had no money so we ate peanut butter sandwiches. Cle and I kept watching for Indians like we saw in the movies. Our first impression of California was the orange trees in Sacramento. In Fresno, it was the antennas and telephone poles like a place still under construction.

“Father was quickly hired and fired in real estate because he didn’t know English. Dropped off at school Cle and I didn’t know where to go. We didn’t know English, but quickly learned to smile and say yes.

“Father was so happy to be In America he took history, English and piano at Fresno City College. He created the choir where he worked at Our Lady of Victory Church. As soon as five years was up he applied for citizenship.

“In 1959 the whole family worked restaurants in Yosemite. It was hard work, but by 1968 we bought the Frasier Motel in Morro Bay for $115,000. Mother lived until 1989 and Father until 1999.”

Eventually the van Beurdens owned seven restaurants in San Luis Obispo County, including Friar Tucks in SLO and Dutchman and Hofbrau of Morro Bay. Bill developed a nationwide insurance company, Van Beurden Insurance Services and Leon developed Bay Osos Brokers. All the siblings and many of the children and great grandchildren have worked for their companies.



Estero Bay Community Foundation

Note: Since this story was first printed in October, 2016 in Tolosa Press for my column Then & Now, the group was able to secure a partnership agreement with the City of Morro Bay Recreation Department to continue to work collaboratively for recreation scholarships for the entire Estero Bay.

When Sarah Ketchum was a Central Coast elementary schoolgirl, she longed to play softball. “I was told over and over ‘girls need to keep their heads in the books.’ What my mom really meant was that we just couldn’t afford for me to play softball,” said Ketchum, today the mother of two recreationally sports-active children, who also serves on the board of the Community Foundation of Estero Bay (CFEB). “As a kid we grew up in poverty. We had all our needs met, but luxuries like eating out, cable and playing sports were not in the budget.”

Ketchum’s childhood story matches many children growing up in Cayucos, Morro Bay, and Los Osos. Thus, back in 1993 in order to address an obvious community need and help more children participate in youth recreational activities, the Morro Bay Recreation Department established the nonprofit Morro Bay Community Foundation, a public/private partnership dedicated to raising funds to award recreational scholarships. For years an annual spaghetti feed and auction in Morro Bay benefited hundreds of children throughout the Estero Bay communities who wished they too could play basketball, become a Junior Life Guard, attend Kids Camp or join a cadre of programs available to children who couldn’t afford the fees charged to operate the programs.

In January, 2016, a few changes have officially occurred, but the mission to provide youth program scholarships continues to be the foundation’s core mission. CFEB is now fully incorporated as a private nonprofit board of directors led by President Ron Reisner. “Janice Fong Wolf of the SLO County Community Foundation helped guide our board to reorganize our operations,” said Homer Alexander, Treasurer. “We have always served youth in Cayucos, Morro Bay and Los Osos. Our name change reflects who we serve as we reach out to help youth in organized programs already serving Estero Bay and develop financial funding support beyond Morro Bay.”

Estero Bay Youth recreation program leaders have been alerted a grant application is available on the website for children throughout the Estero Bay area that qualify for the public school free-lunch program. The grant process is already working. For example, South Bay Soccer led by Stuart Fryer received a grant; the Bay Area Football and Cheer grant will allow boys and girls more involvement in youth sports; and Central Coast Little League, gymnastics and other programs offered by Morro Bay Recreation Services all have expanded scholarship opportunities.

Morro Bay Recreation Services Supervisor Karen Sweeny wrote in an October 5 Letter to the Editor, “Because of CFEB’s contribution of $5,965.00, 38 children attended Kids Camp last summer, 48 participated in Estero Bay Youth Soccer and five play flag football.”

Alexander also noted, “Last spring we helped a boy from Los Osos attend a soccer camp hosted by one of the top English professional teams. He wrote us a very nice thank you.”

Saturday October 29, 2016 the group will presented their 8th Annual Morro Bay Sings, a major funding source for youth scholarships. Dave Peter chairs the event as a new board member interested in supporting the program – one his mother Marlene Peter has been actively supporting as a board chairman and member since its formation. “Morro Bay Sings was the idea of one of my employees, Mitch Barnett. He continues to be the music director,” said Peter, co-owner in the Galley Seafood Grill & Bar. “Each year we’ve selected the top fifteen or sixteen hits from a well known performer and area bands perform their renditions. This year we’ll feature Billy Joel. In the past it has been Joni Mitchell, Elvis, Paul Simon, Elton John, a country medley, and MoTown.

Ketchum said, “The foundation has covered over $42,000 in enrollment fees for approximately 350 children. Sports can teach children team work, tenacity and work ethic. Morro Bay Sings is a fun night out enjoying the tunes of Billy Joel for a good cause.”  Call Mitch for ticket at 805-234-2980 or and for more CFEB information check or Facebook.





Moving Forward in 2017


Readers regularly ask where I get my stories? Generally, I prefer to write your personal stories.

We’ve all had a journey and typically I’ll find we are more alike than not. Yet the mystery is why we often fail to communicate cooperative solutions to achieve similar desired outcomes.

I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes from the baseball movie For the Love of the Game, when Jane and Billy are baffled by their diverse interpretation of his liaison with his masseuse. Jane says, “It’s never quite how you play it in your head.”

For several year’s my weekly inspiration to “be a better person” has come from Father Ed Holterhoff of St. Timothy’s Catholic Church in Morro Bay. His ecumenical message reminds us to be kind, forgiving, tolerant and generous to those we encounter, especially those with so much less than we might have.

Certainly words to live by, but he nailed it for me in his first 2017 bulletin article titled “Expressions.” (see: He wrote, “The future doesn’t just happen; it must be invited. Each year is like a sampler of different candies. We have to try them in order to discover what they are. Change is usually invigorating, even if it is sometimes forced on us.”

I was thus inspired to ask a few former interviewees their thoughts moving forward in 2017.

Reflecting on 2016’s contentious election cycle nationally, regionally, and locally while looking forward to a proactive agenda in 2017, Morro Bay Mayor Jaime Irons said, “I hope our residents will continue to be passionate about what they believe is best for Morro Bay. I also hope we will express our concerns and recommendations with compassion and respect for each other’s ideals, always thinking first of the ultimate benefit for our city.”

Taylor Newton of the Guerrilla Gardening Club, a youth advocacy program that recently expanded to Southern California and Italy, wrote, “Change depends on you. I wish we would learn from history. I see the solution is for people to want to work harder to change themselves before they try to change the world. Change is you being better — that is your job.”

Sherry Peckhoon Sim of Sim Real Estate in Cayucos wrote, “An Old Chinese saying is, ‘When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.’ Despite rising mortgage interest rates, 2017 bodes well for the housing market. As more tech tools are employed, it is more important than ever for real estate practitioners to stay educated and observe strong ethical and professional standards.”

After 25-plus years anticipating action, Morro Bay Maritime Museum president, Larry Newland, is excited about 2017. “What a wonderful year 2016 was for the maritime museum project. In fact, hosting the San Salvador in partnership with the City of Morro Bay and the San Diego Maritime Museum was so successful that enough funds were raised to break ground on the museum building in 2017!

“This would not have been possible without the continued support and enthusiasm of the community and [Morro Bay] City leadership.” Newland also invited all to find out more about the group’s progress from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14 when the three vessels located at 1210 Embarcadero will be open for public tours. Rain cancels.
Rick Grantham, former Morro Bay City Councilmember and over-the-top L.A. Rams fan since 1959 when his grandfather took him to his first game at the Coliseum, wrote, “As a fan for life, I am wishing for a new coach who will bring energy, excitement and a great offense to the LA Rams!”

Teri Bayus, Simply Clear Marketing & Media’s restaurant and movie columnist, and director of the Central Coast Writers Conference, said, “Did you know that 98% of people say their only regret was not writing their story? Most writers don’t finish [or start] because of lack of confidence. For the 2017 Central Coast Writer’s Conference (see:, we are going to focus on writer’s self-confidence and getting the writer’s journey accessible to every pen jockey. What is the story you want to tell?”

Having alluded to my love for sports movies, I was hoping for an Oakland Raiders Super Bowl “hail Mary” led by a healthy Derek Carr from my former hometown of Bakersfield, but will probably have to wait for 2018. My future is obviously anticipating the California Chrome/Art Sherman story to be written and screened before another inspired NFL feel-good movie. Who will write that script?


Generations Remembering Generations

First Published December 15, 2016 in Judy Salamacha’s Then & Now column in Simply Clear Marketing & Media, formerly Central Coast Life, Tolosa Press – Title is “Caring Is A Most Precious Gift.” I hope to post more regularly in this blog and when appropriate I plan to add behind the scenes comments — triggers that brought the concept of the stories to print. People ask where do I get my ideas for the column – from others often, but mostly I see something/someone that is interesting to me and decide to share.

The picture above is of Hank Hall and a service friend that may or may not still join Hank and his military buddies at the French Cafe every Saturday morning at 9am. They meet for coffee and whatever and talk about their experiences in the service 80-90-plus years ago. Their memories of the times are sharp and their tales are animated. I saw them in October and will try and find the column I wrote about them. It was a glorious day for me to share their memories. Hank was the photographer from the Cayucos Seniors when I first met him. He also came from my hometown of Bakersfield. He couldn’t always be there so wanted me to take over – but he was the professional photographer – I was the point and shoot photog!!

But today’s column is different. I meet with Meredith Bates, now retired after years of providing Senior Services through her own company. I now see her at St. Timothy’s and told her I wanted to revive this column. She was willing but since she was retired and I was facing a deadline, I decided to talk to Kasey Watson, owner/operator or Garden House of Morro Bay – also from Bakersfield. In fact, we worked together at KGET-TV (NBC) years ago. Both women know all the signs of aging and understand the respectful loving care a senior might need – maybe not how to move around from here to there, but to move around within their aging lifestyle with dignity. That’s all we all want as we age – to keep on with the little creaks in our arthritic bones independently doing as much as we can. The lucky one’s have family to help, but help comes in many packages all year round.

Hope you enjoy – and heed.

During the Christmas season I wish everyone health, happiness, and safe travels plus peace and prosperity in 2017.

Nevertheless, the holidays can be as stressful as they are joyful. Routines are exchanged for a flurry of activities that include gifting and gorging. It is also the most likely time of the year for extended family and forever friends to make time for each other. I suggest we pause the chaos to take a closer look at how our loved ones are doing, including our parents who typically say they are just fine.

Kasey Watson is the owner/operator of Garden House of Morro Bay, an award-winning home for seniors, including those with Alzheimer’s and dementias. “By the time a family investigates bringing their loved one to Garden House, they are usually in crisis. We have to help the caregiver or family member as much as the resident who needs our fulltime care.” By having discussions before a crisis demands immediate action, she concluded, families would become better managers of whatever happens. And with decisions mutually agreed upon, resources can be investigated in advance to implement plans as needed.

Watson cited an example of a spouse insistent on taking care of his wife. For better or worse was their vow and although an admiral effort, both failed to thrive. When he passed away the adult children found Garden House. With an extended team of caregivers to help provide monitored nutrition, medications, socialization and regular sleep patterns, their mother re-gained physical and cognitive strength. Quality of life could have been better for both of them if action had been taken sooner.

“Everyone at every age and circumstance has a purpose,” said Watson. “Our goal at Garden House is to provide quality of life for families as we manage our residents’ predictable decline. I hope someday we recognize aging is a process of living and dementias are diseases. We wouldn’t ignore finding the best treatment for a broken hip or cancer diagnosis.”

Thus, the greatest gift within a multi-generational family spending the holidays together might be a non-intrusive assessment of changes in our loved ones and a discussion of a future plan to deal with the inevitable toll age could exact. It could mean celebration our loved ones are purposefully engaged and doing “just fine.” On the other hand, there might be “red flags” we need to address with a more immediate action plan before a crisis.

Watson recommends the Alzheimer’s Association to discover information and area resources regarding aging — its potential issues and opportunities. Who hasn’t laughed over our own stress-caused confusions and forgetfulness, which can happen at any age, but rather than toss the behaviors off as simply the normal aging process, look more carefully.

“Seniors living away from family learn to hide issues,” Watson said. “Is one partner answering for the other? Do they still engage in family activities and enjoy the grandchildren? Or are they spending more time at home alone – retreating and uninterested?” The “red flag” list goes on: Granny was always stylish. Is she now neglecting her appearance? Does Papa seem angry or make inappropriate or unfiltered comments? Are they taking more medications, but don’t know what for? Does Papa need to follow a sequence to accomplish simple tasks then get frustrated. Must he start over or abandon the task? Is Granny’s sweet tooth a new eating habit? Are there unexplained dents in the car? Do you see unusual bruises or wounds yet they can’t tell you how they got there?

Watson suggests positive actions that will have long term benefits. “Mom has spent her whole life cooking and cleaning. Why not gift her a housekeeper simply for the deep cleaning? Maybe Papa could use a helpmate to clean the garage or weed the garden. “There are legitimate people out there to help with tasks like paying bills, shopping or driving to appointments,” Watson said. “We are raised to be independent, but by introducing help into the home before there’s a crisis makes it easier to accept later if or when they really need help.”

The greatest gifts don’t always come neatly wrapped in holiday gift bags. Caring enough to pay attention and have that conversation about the quality of our lives as we age might be the ultimate gift we’ll prize long after 2016 moves us to the next phase of our lives.

PS….I made my kids read this!! Happy New Year, 2017



Dr. Don Morris, A Central Coast Living Treasure

Where does Dr. Don M. Morris get his zest? It might be his passionate interest in people and his quest to stay healthy and make things happen.

At 85 years young he recently won three gold medals at the California State Senior Games Championships held in Pasadena, CA. Competing in his age group (85-89), the Shell Beach resident, made 23 of 25 basketball free throws, including 11 of 18 from the three point line. He also won the hot-shot shooting contest. He’s won over 100 medals in the past 33 years competing in track and field and basketball Senior Olympic competitions in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and Oregon.

Tolosa Don Morris Senior Olympian & More

In 2009 when honored as the Mt. San Antonio College Alumnus of the Year, the 1950 graduate was said to have “…excelled academically and athletically.” He placed second in the nation in the 400m hurdles in the National AAU Junior Track & Field Championships and third in the 120-yard high hurdles and 220-yard low hurdles at the National Community College Championships. Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo noticed and offered Morris an athletic scholarship where he ultimately earned induction into Cal Poly’s Hall of Fame.

Sports is simply part of Morris’ DNA. As his Elks Club coffee buddies debated who was the greatest Central Coast athlete, Morris decided to ask what the general population thought. He’s gathered 108 nominations. “Many of the men and women athletes have gone on to compete professionally in sports,” said Morris. For example San Luis Obispo High School’s Chuck Estrada signed with the Milwaukee Braves as a free agent in 1956, pitched from 1960-67 playing for the Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Club and New York Mets then retired as a pitching coach for the majors.

Morris admits he struggles with ranking the athletes and encourages continued debate, but discovered the value of his quest has been to document the athletes’ history and their connection to the Central Coast. Nominations should be sent to Many sports are represented including San Luis Obispo High School’s football player, Ed Brown and golfer, Loren Roberts; Mission Prep’s runner Jordan Hasay; Santa Maria High basketball player Steve Patterson; and Righetti High baseball player Robin Ventura.

Education was Dr. Morris’ career choice. He earned a master’s degree in education at Cal Poly and an education doctorate at UCLA. He was a teacher and principal in San Luis Obispo and Simi Valley, a founding administrator for Moorpark College, and professor at the University of California Santa Barbara. He retired from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo as Dean of Extended Education and Professor in the College of Education.

However, retirement simply meant transferring his energy to community organizations – and sports. As program director for the San Luis Obispo Monday Rotary Club and the founder of the Retired Active Men’s (RAMS) Coffee Cabinet, he realized it wasn’t always easy to fill his eleven year tenure of weekly programs with credible speakers. About ten years ago Morris started a web-list of free speakers available on sundry topics. Morris reported, “My website has 250 speakers with programs that are used by over 82 local organizations.” The list is available at He added the website has had over 6,000 hits and potential speakers are invited to send in their topical resumes.

Morris believes his most important achievements, however, are related to family and service to his country. “My greatest legacy would have to be being married to Jean, a wonderful San Luis Obispo women, for over 63 years and our having three bright and happy children that are now going through life as productive adults.” They treasure their seven grandchildren.

Morris volunteered for service in the U.S. Navy after graduating from Cal Poly in 1952. He became a naval aviator piloting both carrier-based aircraft and airships. “One of my proudest moments would have to be overcoming my fear and making my landings on the Navy Carrier USS Monterey back in 1953.” He served active duty and Navy reserves for 42 years and by his 1990 retirement he’d been promoted to the rank of Commander USN.

Is it possible the 85-year old is ready to rest on his laurels having achieved numerous accolades, including honored as the 2009 Distinguished Alumni of the Community College League of California? With his never give in or give up philosophy for living, Morris said, “In the next couple of months Jean and I are scheduled to go to the Nevada State Senior Olympic Championships and hopefully we can to to the World Senior Olympics up in Utah.”

We probably don’t need to wish him luck, but we can congratulate him – and Jean — for lives lived well.