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Obituary

Dr. Richard Squire Jonas

September 25, 1928 – February 16, 2022

Obituary Dr. Richard Jonas

Courtesy of the Jonas family

Dr. Richard Squire Jonas

The Jonas family and friends are deeply sad to announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend, Richard Squire Jonas, M.D. We are also proud to share the story of his remarkable life.

He was born in Glendale, CA on September 25, 1928. He was the son of a Los Angeles ceramics factory owner and a doctor’s daughter who had come to California as a young couple on an adventure, arriving from the East Coast just in time for the Great Depression. As a child, Dick was known as “Blackie” for his jet black hair, and was a hard working student who was liked by his fellow classmates with whom he developed a balance of work and play that he enjoyed life long. His humor and warmth moved everyone who met him. At age 17 at a backwards dance at Glendale High School, he met 16-year-old Johann Wertz and the two immediately fell in love. Their first dates included a night at the Los Angeles Palladium Theater, where they heard Doris Day sing “Sentimental Journey” with the Les Brown Orchestra, a song that would remind them of their early months for the ensuing seven decades of life together.

The two went to UCLA where they joined the social world of the fraternities and sororities Phi Kappa Psi and Pi Beta Phi, meeting many of the people who would remain their life-long friends. Then he joined the ROTC. When he received his BA in Public Health from UCLA in 1951, he was commissioned in the Medical Service Corps. He and Johann married not once (January 28, 1950), not twice (June 1951), but three times (August 1951), thanks to a snafu in the rules of marrying before receiving his military orders. The three marriage certificates were framed together and hung next to their bed for the rest of their lives, reminding everyone of their remarkable connection and its clear spirit of humor and love.

As a member of the U.S. Navy, Dick was shipped off to serve in the Korean War as Lieutenant. He received the Bronze Star in 1954.

After Korea, Dick went to USC Medical School on the GI Bill and chose to go into private practice as an OB/GYN. The young couple vetted various Southern California communities before choosing Newport Beach to start his practice and raise a family. Starting in 1958 with their first son, Stephan, followed in 1966 with Christopher, and then, as a total surprise when Dick was 41, with Jason in 1969, the family grew as did Dick’s OB/GYN medical practice.

He said, “as a doctor, the most important part of your work is to take the time to listen to and serve your patients,” a quality that made him beloved by his patients, and earned the respect of the nurses and doctors who worked alongside him. Over his 30 years of practicing medicine, Dick delivered thousands of children, many of whom were the granddaughters of his original patients. He was an avid advocate for women’s reproductive rights, culminating in service on the Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood of Southern California.

Dick and Johann, passionate supporters of the emerging Southern California contemporary art world, were early members of the Newport Harbor Art Museum, which later became the Orange County Museum of Art.

In 1979, after the commercial expansion of the Santa Ana Airport and the resulting jet noise that was a constant presence in their home in Newport Beach, the family moved to Laguna Beach, finding a beautiful home on a hillside of pine trees in Emerald Bay. There, the Pacific Ocean was a constant fascination for Dick and his family, watching the migration of the California Gray Whales, some 15,000 sunsets, and was the backdrop for many gatherings with Dick and Johann’s remarkable circle of friends. At age 60, Dick retired early to ski in Mammoth, play tennis, travel, and enjoy daily life with his beloved Johann.

The original house burned in the 1993 Laguna Beach fire and they rebuilt a beautiful art-filled house in its place, created in anticipation of many years of happy life together that came to be there. Motivated by that same fire, serving on the Emerald Bay Community Board, Dick led an effort to better prepare the community for future fires by creating wider fire breaks and community response plans. Amazingly, only two weeks before his death, in the February 2022 Emerald Fire which was in many ways a repeat of the 1990s fire, was this time not able to penetrate the community. Dick’s efforts preserved not only their own house but also those of his neighbors.

Dr. Richard Squire Jonas passed away February 16, 2022 of a heart attack, just over 76 years after his first date with Johann. He died, held in love by his family, grandchildren and his many friends, and fellow community members. He lived 93 years of a richly loving, successful and honorable life of service, generosity, humor, medicine, friendship, family, and still deeply in love with Johann. He will be missed. We love you, Papa.

 

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