Aviator Smith, 67, dies
Longtime aviator and former Modesto Airport manager Richard C. "R.C." Smith died Monday at University of California, San Francisco Medical Center. The 67-year-old Modesto resident had suffered from oral cancer.
Mr. Smith began flying at the age of 14 in Syracuse, N.Y. After joining the Air Force in 1949, he flew combat missions in the Korean War, earning an Air Medal.
While stationed at Castle Air Force Base in Atwater, Mr. Smith served as a private flight instructor in the area. He also passed on his love of aeronautics to students in his classes at Merced Evening High School and Modesto Junior College.
After retiring from the Air Force in 1969, Mr. Smith began his 20-year career as Modesto City-County Airport manager.
Ross Campbell, Modesto's former public works director, hired and supervised Mr. Smith for many years.
"With all the aviation background and training he had," Campbell said, "he came with great recommendations."
He was credited with bringing the airport federal grants to renovate its commercial air terminal, a $2 million project completed in 1991, Campbell said.
As president of the California Association of Airports and the American Association of Airport Executives, Mr. Smith advocated federal support of small airports like Modesto's, Campbell said.
Mr. Smith was responsible for the expansion of the airport's hangar for private planes, Campbell said. About 200 planes used the hangar during general aviation's heyday in Modesto, about 20 years ago.
Current airport manager Howard Cook also lauded Mr. Smith for helping Modesto weather the confusion that followed airline deregulation in 1978 -- when commercial airliners entered and left Modesto through seemingly a revolving door, Cook said.
"(Mr. Smith) was trying to build a new terminal at the same time. It had to have caused frustration," he said. "Even still he had the optimism to see that project finished to where it was a reality by the time he left."
Mr. Smith retired in 1989 to work for Shutt-Moen Aviation Consultants of Santa Rosa.
He continued to fly his family's Piper Cub and Comanche 6 airplanes.
His happiest moments
"(Flying) made him free, and that was when we was happiest -- except when he was with his family," said younger daughter Carol Thomas of Modesto.
"He was such a great father," she continued. "He wanted us to have the best childhood."
The family enjoyed camping and golfing vacations to Hawaii.
Mr. Smith was born March 2, 1932, in Syracuse. He left his family when he was 12 to live with a foster family, and at the age of 16 moved on to live with the late Wilmer and Olive Leopold of Syracuse. He married the couple's granddaughter, Shirley Leopold in 1951.
One of Mr. Smith's three children, son Bob Smith of Atwater, earned his pilot's license as well.
"Whenever I could talk him out of (flying), I stayed in the hangar and played," daughter Laurie Roberts of Modesto said. "(Flying) was his dream, but he never forced his dream on us."
Mr. Smith took his last flight about a month ago, said Bob Smith. The two, with the son at the controls, surveyed the area where the University of California at Merced will be built, then landed at Castle.
"I remember I made a particularly good landing," Bob Smith said.
He's proud his father got to see it.
Mr. Smith was a member and past president of the Spring Creek Golf & Country Club in Ripon. He also belonged to Modesto Engineers Club; the Modesto Rotary Club; St. John's No. 1 Masonic Lodge of Portsmouth, N.H.; Aahmes Shrine Temple of Oakland; San Jose Scottish Rite Bodies; Modesto Shrine Club; and First Baptist Church in Modesto.
Mr. Smith is survived by his wife, Shirley L. Smith of Modesto; children Robert Smith of Atwater, and Laurie A. Roberts and Carol L. Thomas, both of Modesto; a sister, Patricia A. Bailey of Chicago; and five grandchildren and two step-grandchildren.
A memorial service for Mr. Smith is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at the Pavilion, Garden Level at First Baptist Church, 1325 12th St., Modesto.
Remembrances may be made to the American Cancer Society, 1604 Ford Ave., Modesto 95350; or the Shriners Hospital for Children, 2425 Stockton Blvd., Sacramento 95817.
Leland C. Wilbur
Aug. 11, 1920 -- Feb. 28, 2000
Leland Clarence Wilbur, 79, of Modesto died Monday at Vintage Faire Convalescent Hospital.
Mr. Wilbur was a native of Modesto. He lived in the Stanislaus County area all his life. He was a heavy-equipment operator for 60 years. And he was a dairyman and orchard farmer. He was a past president of the Waterford Lions Club. He was a former member of Elks Lodge 1282. He was a member of Community Baptist Church, Waterford. He was a Navy veteran; he belonged to Veterans of Foreign Wars, Waterford.
He is survived by his wife, Dorothy B. Wilbur of Modesto; children, Pete Herbert Wilbur of Davis and Linda Strangio of Los Altos; brother, Albert Ray Wilbur of Modesto; sisters, Ruth Abbott of Denver and Laura Fletcher of Fiddletown; and four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
A funeral will be at 1 p.m. Friday at Salas Brothers Funeral Chapel. Burial will follow at Lakewood Memorial Park, Hughson. Visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at the chapel.
Remembrances may be made to Community Baptist Church, 328 D St., Waterford 95386, or the Modesto Union Gospel Mission, 1400 Yosemite Blvd., Modesto 95354.
Turlock philanthropist, surgeon Patel, 58, dies
TURLOCK -- Dr. Chandrakant C. Patel, an orthopedic surgeon and generous donor to education, died of a heart attack on Sunday. He was 58.
"He had a huge patient load and was an excellent surgeon," said Pennie Rorex, spokeswoman for Emanuel Medical Center. "His specialty was in hands, and he was considered to be one of the best."
Dr. Patel was an avid supporter of the nonprofit hospital, Rorex said.
"The untimely death of Dr. Patel was a major loss to the Turlock community and medical profession," said Robert A. Moen, chief executive officer of Emanuel. "His demonstration of progressive knowledge in orthopedics significantly contributed to the acquisition of equipment and additions to the operating room that were essential to the development and maintenance of a level of care to benefit his patients, the community and the medical center."
Dr. Patel was known for philanthropy in the United States and his native India, donating to youth, education and arts programs, said Gretchen Lema, his office manager for 22 years.
"He never wanted any attention for what he did, and he discreetly donated to everything," she said. "He gave to countless scholarships."
He was a founding member of the India Cultural Society and held a longtime interest in trying to bridge the cultural gap between India and the United States, said Paul Saini, a local businessman, friend and patient.
Recently, Dr. Patel finished a multimedia CD-ROM featuring artwork and photos from India.
Dr. Patel was born Oct. 6, 1941, in Mumbai, India. He put himself through medical school in Bombay, enrolling in 1961 at the Topewala National Medical College. He completed his internship and residency in 1971 in Great Britain and moved his family to the United States to continue training at the Brookdale Hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y.
While in Brooklyn, he completed a general surgical internship and chief residency in orthopedics. He moved to Turlock as an orthopedic surgeon, joining the practice of Dr. L.C. Folkes in 1978. He also founded the Turlock Orthopedic Center.
He lived in Turlock for 22 years. He died Sunday evening at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto. He had suffered a heart attack on a January trip to India, friends said. He had no previous heart problems.
Dr. Patel is survived by his wife, Nirmala C. Patel of Turlock; children, Bhavesh C. Patel of Sunnyvale and Rupal C. Patel of Campbell; brothers, Lalit C. Patel, Pankaj C. Patel and Dinesh C. Patel, all of Mumbai, India; and two grandchildren.
A funeral will be 1 p.m. Friday at Lakewood Funeral Home, Hughson. Visitation will be 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at Whitehurst, Norton & Dias Funeral Home. Lakewood Funeral Home in charge of arrangements.
Sheryl Lynn Lindsley
Sheryl Lynn Lindsley, an assistant professor at California State University, Stanislaus, gave assignments that encouraged students to appreciate one another and their heritages.
Her students say they will always remember Lindsley and the lessons she taught. She died Sunday at her Modesto home after battling bile duct cancer for a year. She was 44.
Teaching students to embrace who they are was not only important, it also was something she was good at, said her husband, Gary Pickell.
"Sheryl's life was devoted to helping students, friends and family to understand themselves and one another better, to communicate more effectively, and to more fully appreciate and love themselves, thereby enjoying more rewarding lives," said Pickell, who lost his wife a day after their one-year wedding anniversary.
Anne Harris, a Stanislaus State graduate, said of her former teacher: "She was inspiring to all of her students."
She made sure students interacted and practiced the communication skills they studied, Harris said. "The students really got to know one another. You walked away from her class having a bond both with Dr. Lind- sley and the other students."
As someone who changed career paths later in life, she inspired older students to continue their educations and pursue higher degrees, Harris said.
Sheryl Lindsley, born July 27, 1944, in Santa Ana, was a bank manager before she returned to school. She received a master's degree from San Francisco State University and a doctorate from Arizona State University.
She joined the Stanislaus State communication studies department in the fall of 1995. She taught intercultural communication classes.
Margorie Jaasma, also a professor in intercultural communication, said she remembers Lind- sley as dedicated to ridding the world of prejudice, by improving communication between cultures, age groups and genders.
Lindsley had traveled to 44 countries, in almost every part of the world. She researched Native American cultures in South Dakota, and she also studied the Mexican culture.
Monday, the Western States Communication Association awarded Lindsley with this year's outstanding award for communication for an article on trust between workers and managers in American factories in Mexico.
Lindsley was very involved in university activities, participating on numerous committees and attending various events.
Dolla Elsumeri, a university senior and station manager at KCSS radio, often turned to Lindsley for advice.
"She was a professor, and it seemed like she was a friend too," Elsumeri said of Lindsley, who was the faculty adviser for the radio station.
Lindsley is survived by her husband, Gary Pickell, and a stepson, Berkeley.
A memorial service will be at 1 p.m. Saturday at Unity Church of Modesto.
Remembrances may be made to the Dr. Sheryl Lindsley Scholarship Fund at California State University, Stanislaus, 801 W. Monte Vista Ave., Turlock 95382.
June 6, 1927 -- Feb. 26, 2000
Alberta Anderson, 72, of Modesto died Saturday at Doctors Medical Center.
Mrs. Anderson was a native of Beaumont, Texas. She lived in Modesto five months. She was a self-employed domestic worker for 40 years.
She is survived by her children, Marilyn Prescott of Modesto and Anthony Williams of Houston; brothers, Joe Nobles of Richmond, Robert Nobles and Walter Nobles, both of Houston, and Steve Nobles of Beaumont; sisters, Jonnie Owens and Mary Nobles, both of Beaumont, and Ruth Dalco and Faye Williams, both of Houston; and seven grandchildren and 10 great- grandchildren.
A graveside service will be at 11 a.m. Friday at Ceres Memorial Park, Ceres. Visitation will be from 5 p.m to 8 p.m. Thursday at Evins Funeral Home.
Jan. 6, 1930 -- Feb. 27, 2000
William "Bill" Bennett, 70, of Manteca died Sunday at his home.
Mr. Bennett was a native of Santa Cruz. He lived in the Manteca-Ripon area 25 years. He was an almond farmer; he belonged to the Blue Diamond Almond Growers Association and the Farm Bureau. He belonged to Lake Don Pedro Golf Course. He was a member of St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Escalon.
He is survived by his wife, Marie Bennett of Manteca; children, Gayle Wood of San Jose and William "Butch" Bennett Jr. of Gilroy; and six grandchildren.
A vigil will be at 7:30 p.m. today at at P.L. Fry & Son Chapel. A funeral will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Escalon. Burial will be at St. John's Catholic Cemetery, Escalon. Visitation will be from 1 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. today at the chapel.
Remembrances may be made to Hospice of San Joaquin, 2609 E. Hammer Lane, Stockton 95210.