Beatrice Jane Conrad
Beatrice Jane Conrad, an eight-year resident of El Granada, died Nov. 21 at Seton Medical Center in Daly City following a short illness. She was 86.
Mrs. Conrad lived for much of her life in New Jersey. She was born April 15, 1917 to Ethel and William Miller North Plainfield, N.J. She graduated from North Plainfield High School and served as Madame President of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Auxiliary, North Plainfield Aerie, in 1974-75.
She worked as a clerk/typist for Liberty Mutual Insurance Company for about 15 years. In 1995, she moved to El Granada to live with her daughter, Pat Levenduski.
Mrs. Conrad is preceded in death by her husband, Maurice A. Conrad. She is survived by her three children, Judith A. D'Amico of Benson, Vt., Charles W. Conrad of Cranbury, N.J., and Patti J. Levenduski of El Granada, and eight grandchildren, two foster grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
She is also survived by a brother, William Miller of Dubary, Fla. and a half-sister, Linda Bellone of Ringoes, N.J.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, Nov. 29, in New Jersey.
Season ticket holders, patrons, actors and crew with This Side of the Hill Players (now Coastal Repertory Theatre) remember Betty Ralphs.
She was the one whom season ticket-holders called with questions or last-minute changes. She helped give the theater a hometown intimacy, said longtime associate Margaret Harris: She knew each subscription holder and where their seats were.
"She could answer their questions and solve their problems right away," said Harris of Ms. Ralphs, a 27-year Coastsider she described as being like a sister.
Ms. Ralphs died peacefully at her Half Moon Bay home on Nov. 20, at age 76, due to heart failure.
"I was so close to her," Harris said. "We had special things we shared, where we came from, where we were."
Longtime theater-goers also recall Ms. Ralphs for her spicy roles in plays staged by the troupe since its mid-1980s inception.
Her sudden death left shock reverberating through the local thespian community.
"It's a huge loss for the theater," said Coastal Repertory Theatre actor and director Michael Lederman.
"She was one of the grand dames of this theater."
Ms. Ralphs' involvement in theater came later in a busy life.
She was born Aug. 8, 1927 in Pennsylvania, and came to Southern California with her sister while both were in their teens.
She gravitated to Northern California and attended San Francisco State University, graduating with a degree in social work.
Ms. Ralphs went to work in juvenile probation in San Francisco. She also worked in Marin County for a time, but spent most of her career in San Mateo County juvenile probation, working principally with girls. She retired around 1980.
By 1976, she and longtime partner Myra Kelley had settled on the Coastside. "We just happened to like the beach," said Kelley.
Barely a decade later, Ms. Ralphs read about the formation of a new theater group, This Side of the Hill Players. She helped with props in the troupe's first play, "The Torchbearers," in 1986.
Entranced, she landed her first role in the second TSOTHP venture, "Exit the Body," in 1987.
Harris recalls Ms. Ralphs saying at the time, "'I like this stuff. I really like this acting.' It really, really, really hooked her," Harris said. "She was a good comedienne."
From that point on, Ms. Ralphs built something of a second career that reads like a history of the local theater.
She became regularly involved in acting, directing and backstage work in its venues over time: Farallone View Elementary School, Montara Gardens and its present home, the Mel Mello Center for the Performing Arts.
Her first lead role was as Mrs. Savage in the 1988 comedy "The Curious Savage." She made her directorial debut in 1990 with "On Tidy Endings," a one-act drama about AIDS that marked the troupe's segue into presenting more serious material.
In 1989 she appeared in "California Suite" and "Bell, Book and Candle" in the troupe's flirtation with dinner theater, in the former Pepper's Grill in Shoreline Station. She also appeared in "Outward Bound" (1992), "To Grandmother's House We Go" (1993) as the grandmother, "Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean" (1994) and "Talk Radio" (1995).
In 1995 and 1996 she directed "Love Letters," with television star June Lockhart in 1996. They "really hit it off," said Harris.
She also appeared in the courtroom drama "Nuts" (1997) and "Middle-Aged White Guys" (1998), in a small but memorable role Harris said she loved.
Her last role was as the embittered neighbor in "To Kill a Mockingbird" in 2001.
"She really liked to be active. She hated to sit around," said Harris. "If she wasn't cast, she wanted to be working on a play. This was her second family."
Ms. Ralphs distinguished herself offstage as well.
"She was the most hip, over-70 woman I've ever met," Lederman said. "Just very forward-thinking. Very open to stuff that was different and challenging."
Ms. Ralphs is survived by her partner of 35 years, Myra Kelley of Half Moon Bay, and her sister Shirley Thatcher of Garden Grove, Calif.
The theater troupe is planning a memorial service and celebration of Ms. Ralphs' life on a Saturday in January, but the date has not yet been announced.
Takeshi (Tom) Kuwahara
Takeshi "Tom" Kuwahara died peacefully at age 80 at his Pescadero home on Dec. 5.
A lifelong resident of Pescadero, Mr. Kuwahara was born Oct. 13, 1923 to Yuku and Tsunematsu Kuwahara.
He was a third-generation farmer in Pescadero who "loved the land, and fishing, with a passion," said his daughter, Joyce Randolph of Stockton. Even after retirement, he grew fruits and vegetables to share with friends, she added.
She described her father as a simple man who loved to tinker and come up with useful items around the home. "He liked to make things work," she said. "He was always devising new ways to manufacture products. We'd see his handiwork all over the house."
"He will be deeply missed by his family," she continued.
He was also a member of the Judo Black Belt Federation of America, and a Hokka Yudanshakai second-degree black belt. He was a member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local No. 85.
Mr. Kuwahara is preceded in death by a sister, Hisaye Higaki. He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Fusaye (Hamada) Kuwahara of Pescadero, his two daughters and their husbands, Irene and Elwood Agasid of South San Fran-cisco and Joyce and Lindsey Randolph of Stockton, and grandchildren Mark and Thomas Agasid and Brooks, Whitney and Bryce Randolph.
He is survived by sisters Hatsuye Nakagaki of Pinole and Michie Kuwahara of San Mateo, and brother Isamu Kuwahara of Pescadero.
He is also survived by many nieces and nephews.
Memorial services will be held Tuesday, Dec. 16 at 10 a.m. at Sneider and Sullivan Funeral Home at 977 South El Camino Real in San Mateo, followed by burial at the Skylawn Memorial Park.
In remembrance, donations may be sent to Mission Hospice at 151 West 20th Ave., San Mateo, CA 94403, or to the American Cancer Society at 1650 S. Amphlett Blvd., San Mateo, CA 94402.