Saturday, 04 February 2023


Betty Lou Surber. Courtesy photo.

Betty Lou Surber
Nov. 21, 1931 – Jan. 22, 2023

LAKEPORT, Calif. — Betty Lou died peacefully on Jan. 22, 2023, at the age of 91.

She was born Nov. 21, 1931, in Porterville, California, the youngest daughter and next-to-youngest child of five in the family of Alfred and Margaret Rider.

As a child Betty Lou loved to dance, especially tap dancing. She met Floyd Surber at a folk dance when she was in high school and he was attending junior college after his discharge from the Navy where he served during World War II. They were married in November 1949 just before her 18th birthday.

They lived in Chico, California, where they welcomed their first child while Floyd attended college and graduated with a teaching credential.

They moved to Lakeport in 1953 where Floyd began his teaching career. They soon purchased a home where they raised their five children. Betty Lou lived in that house for the rest of her life.

Betty Lou had a busy life as a young mother, where she honed her domestic and organizational skills — cooking delicious meals, doing seemingly-endless household chores (without a dishwasher or a dryer), sewing clothes, knitting sweaters, baking bread and cookies, tending a big garden, canning fruits and vegetables — all while caring for her growing family.

In addition, Betty Lou did child care for many years, worked at the local Sears catalog store, sang with the Community Chorus and a women’s group the Triple Trio, helped start the local Sweet Adelines chorus, took college classes, and tried new things like stained glass art and macramé.

In the 1970s Betty Lou and Floyd started a family hand-craft business “The Fumble Finger Factory” selling daughter Cindy’s pottery, Floyd’s clay wind chimes and sculptures, metalwork and jewelry, and Betty Lou’s macramé plant hangers. They had a booth at the county fair, organized an annual Christmas craft fair, and traveled to craft shows on the weekends in their motor home.

Betty Lou was involved with the Lake County Arts Council for many years as a board member, treasurer and office manager where her organizational skills were valued. She volunteered at the Lakeport Senior Center where she served on the board and worked to set up and maintain their garden. She was also the treasurer for the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary for many years.

Dancing became part of Betty Lou’s life again in the 1980s when she joined a group called the Clear Lake Clikkers doing a form of tap dancing called clogging. She then began her long association with the Spring Dance Festival where she also choreographed and performed an annual tap dance solo for over 30 years. Her last Dance Festival performance was in 2018 at the age of 86.

Singing was an important part of Betty Lou’s life and she was a vital member of the Mendo-Lake Sweet Adelines chorus for over 40 years, serving as president, treasurer, choreographer and baritone section leader. She loved performing.

Betty Lou became known for her delicious varieties of zucchini bread as well as her jams and jellies, especially those made from her homegrown boysenberries and pomegranates. And her buttermilk brownies were always appreciated whenever she brought them to a party or a bake sale.

Betty Lou and Floyd were married for 58 years until his death in 2008. She continued to enjoy gardening, baking, singing and dancing until her health issues in the past couple of years made it difficult to continue.

She loved spending time with her family and keeping in touch by phone with those who lived too far away to visit often.

Betty Lou leaves behind a large and loving family: her children and their spouses, Pam and Marty Klier, Cindy Surber and Stan Ulrich, Bethany and Al Smith, Teresa Fred, Rod and Carla Surber; eight grandchildren and their spouses, Ian Klier, Emily Ulrich and Jen Howard, Alec Smith, Emeric Smith, Alexis and Viana Smith, Michael Fred, Vincent and Elley Fred, and Leon Fred; and 12 great-grandchildren, Nathan Fred-Massic, Eileen Fred, Edward Fred, Rachel Fred, Shayna Burrows-Jack, Isaiah Smith, TJ Smith, Sandra Shaw, Edward Shaw, Leilani Smith, Simona Ulrich and Helena Howard Ulrich.

Betty Lou will be remembered and greatly missed by all those who knew her and were touched by her kindness, her thoughtfulness and her sweet spirit.

Betty Lou’s family will host a gathering in her honor later this spring.

Josefina Austín Romero. Courtesy photo.

Josefina Austín Romero
April 15, 1925 - Jan. 7, 2023

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. — With heavy hearts, we announce the passing of Josefina A. Romero at the age of 97, who was surrounded by loved ones, on Jan. 7, 2023.

She was a beloved friend, sister, aunt, wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

Josefina was born on April 15, 1925, in Mexico City, Mexico to Consuelo Austín Vidaña and Jesus Austín.

She married Rogelio M. Romero in 1948. Together, in 1955 they immigrated from Mexico City to Los Angeles. Soon after, they laid down roots in La Mirada to raise their nine children.

Josefina's life was a testament to her power of determination and resilience. Born from humble beginnings, she never let her circumstances define her. Instead, she worked tirelessly to provide a better life for her family. Her passions in life were many, and none more important to her than her family.

Throughout her life, Josefina lived with a sense of adventure and relished the independence of being a free spirit. She welcomed new additions to the family with open arms and a caring heart.

Her playfulness, tenacity, sense of wit and exceptional cooking skills will forever be cherished. More than anything, Josefina will be remembered for being a constant source of love and support to her family.

Josefina was predeceased by her loving husband, Rogelio M. Romero; son, Jose Luis del Pozo; daughter, Sylvia Nett; and sister, Luz Vidaña Austín.

She is survived by her brother, Agustín Galicia; her children, Carmen Sahagun, Hank Romero, Rosa Hartzog, Georgina Goff, Dolores Smith, Martha Mezzanatto and Oscar Romero; her nieces, Carmen Lugo, Consuelo Granados, Josefina Pech and Georgina Pech; along with 27 grandchildren; and 37 great-grandchildren.

Josefina’s Going Home Celebration will be hosted at Chapel of the Lakes Mortuary on Saturday, Jan. 28 at 1 p.m.

Josefina’s final resting place will be at Olive Lawn Memorial Park in La Mirada, California.

Care entrusted to Chapel of the Lakes Mortuary FD1336,, Lakeport, telephone 707-263-0357.

Robert Cartwright. Courtesy photo.

Bob Cartwright passed away on Jan. 9, 2023. He was 85 years old.

Bob was born in Indiana, Pennsylvania in 1937. His family moved to Orange County, California, and at age 18 Bob enlisted into the U.S. Navy in October 1955.

He served on the USS Hornet and the USS Yorktown. During a shore leave in San Francisco Bob met his soon-to-be wife Louise Morrison.

In 1957 they married in Upper Lake, California, where they lived and raised a family of three.

Bob worked 37 years at Masonite Corp. in Ukiah and after he retired Bob and Louise spent their summers fishing and traveling.

Bob also had a passion for restoring old tractors, and if you have been to the Kelseyville Pear Festival or Wild West Day in Upper Lake you probably watched Bob on one of his tractors in the parade.

Bob is survived by his sister, Sue Crawley, and his three children, Gina Gibson of Phoenix, Arizona, Jim Cartwright of Santa Rosa, California, and Brenda Moran of Hidden Valley Lake, California.

He is also survived by two grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and a niece and nephew.

Bob will be interred in the family block next to Louise at the Upper Lake cemetery.

Michael A. Willoughby. Courtesy photo.

Sgt. Michael A. Willoughby
March 4, 1967 – Dec. 28, 2022

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. — Family and friends mourn the loss of Michael A. Willoughby, loving father, husband, PopPop, and true friend.

He passed away in his sleep of natural causes on Dec. 28, 2022.

Mike grew up in Philadelphia, the oldest of three children.

He joined the Army at age 19 and rose to the rank of sergeant.

He met Crystal in 2013 when they both worked at a motorcycle assembly factory. They became close friends.

Then Mike was called to return to service in the Army. When he returned home, he discovered that Crystal had moved 3,000 miles away to California. He came to visit her and proposed on Valentine’s Day in 2015.

Mike and Crystal were married on March 6, 2015, two days after Mike’s birthday so he would never forget their anniversary!

What Mike loved the most was his family. He was his family’s protector, and they always felt safe with him. His wife and Sunshine, Crystal, children Ray-Ray, Max, Carlos, Margarita, Junior, and grandchildren, Adelina, Jelani and Amberliz.

He also had a love-hate relationship with daughter, Martha, but he always wanted the best for her.

Mike loved to cook and made great meals for everyone. He also prepared delicious ribs, chicken and pork shoulder on his smoker that he was very proud of.

He enjoyed sharing memorable stories about his time in the Army, and how he made it through Desert Storm.

Mike will be remembered for his good attitude and willingness to pitch in and help. He had an infectious laugh, and a silly side that made others feel comfortable.

He will also be remembered as what a dad should be. He lived to protect Ray-Ray, who has autism and Mike was very good at keeping him safe and happy.

The legacy that Mike leaves is strong. He was loyal, dedicated and there for his family in good times and bad times. He always gave it 100 percent.

Although he left too soon, his family knows he is still watching over them.

Roberta Tawney-Merchen. Courtesy photo.

LAKEPORT, Calif. — It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Roberta Tawney-Merchen of Lakeport on Jan. 4, 2023, while surrounded by her children.

Roberta was born to Parents Ervin and Elsie Turner on Nov. 17, 1931, in Arizona.

Roberta was preceded in death by her parents, three sisters, five brothers, husband and daughter Jackie.

Roberta is survived by her sister, Elsie; daughters, Charlene and Deborah; and son Phillip as well as numerous grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren. Although there are too many to list individually, Roberta loved all her family members immensely.

Roberta played an active role in her community for many years and served at the Lakeport Elks Lodge for 22 years as a member and trustee.

She was also a member of various organizations around Lake County.

A celebration of life is to be held at 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 28, at the Lakeport Elks Lodge located at 3775 Lakeshore Blvd, Lakeport.

In lieu of flowers, her family asks that donations be made to Elks Lodge #2704 in her memory.

Care entrusted to Chapel of the Lakes Mortuary FD1336,, Lakeport, telephone 707-263-0357.

Richard Van Caster. Courtesy photo.

In loving memory of our father, Richard Van Caster, who passed away on Jan. 14, 2023, in Red Bluff, California.

He was the loving father of Richard Van Caster Jr. (deceased), Charles Van Caster (Christine Van Caster), Wayne Van Caster, Tracey Van Caster (Jana Van Caster), Sharmayne Roundy, Lorrie Van Caster-Fike (Andy Holl) and Kathy Blume (Darryl Blume).

Richard was the proud Grandpa to 12 grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

He will be deeply missed by all who knew him.

Richard was born on Jan. 17, 1936, the youngest of five children raised in Wisconsin by Louis and Alice Van Caster.

He spent 20 years in the military and retired from the Coast Guard in 1976.

He started a new career and retired as the director of maintenance and transportation at Old Adobe School District in Petaluma, California.

After retirement he moved to Lucerne, California, where he enjoyed his days fishing, telling stories and having coffee with friends.

In April of 2022 he moved to Red Bluff and enjoyed running around his new town with his best friend of 30-plus years, Patricia Ryan.

One of the most generous souls on this planet, our father was always ready to lend a helping hand.

He truly loved people and being around them and was always ready with a story and joke to share.

At Richard’s request no services will be held.

You may make donations to the Gary Sinise Foundation in his honor as an alternative to flowers.

Donations may be made online at or mailed to P.O. Box 40726, Nashville, TN 37204.

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