CHRISTINE BALABUZKO COMBS

CHRISTINE BALABUZKO COMBS

August 7, 1962 to July 31, 2018

Editor’s Note: Christine passed away July 31, 2018 after bravely fighting cancer for three years. She was just 56. Born August 7, 1962 in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, she graduated from the University of Illinois with a B.S in Engineering Physics, and from Loyola Marymount University with an MBA. After hiring on at Hughes Aircraft Company, she had a long career in South Bay aerospace, including infra-red airborne navigation, satellite technology, and unmanned aircraft at Hughes, Boeing, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman. In the course of her work, she got to experience a catapult launch off the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan near San Diego in 2014. Chris leaves her husband, Gary, Daisy the cat, and a very old Plecostomus (fish). Please make a donation to South Bay Wildlife Rehab www.sbwr.org/birds, She Rocks KXLU at kxlu.com, or the USO. Funeral arrangements made by White & Day Mortuaries.

Gary Combs presented Christine’s eulogy at Palos Verdes Golf Club on Saturday, November 17, 2018.

EULOGY

By Gary Combs

“I stayed good at planning trips”

Chris experienced a catapult launch off an aircraft carrier

I met Chris at Hughes Aircraft around 1985. She was engaged at the time, but she broke up with her fiancé shortly after. She told me it was because he told her that her career didn’t matter. Almost as importantly, her cat didn’t like him. Her cat liked me, though. Over the Labor Day weekend in 1986, I planned a trip to Monterey Bay. The aquarium had just opened, so I booked a hotel, got tickets to the aquarium, and looked up other things for us to do while there. This was all before the Internet, so I used the old Auto Club tour book. Chris later told me that the fact that I had planned the trip, and that all she had to do was to go along, really impressed her. She said that was when she started to fall in love with me. So, I made darn sure that I stayed good at planning trips.

“We did a good amount of international travel”

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Bill Stark

bill-stark-1.jpg


GOOD-BYE TO “HOT STUFF”

A EULOGY FOR BILL STARK

1935 to 2007

By Katharine Blossom Lowrie

 And so began the sitcom

 Bill and I divorced decades ago. So how did I end up folding his boxers, suffering his impatience, relinquishing the remote and sneezing from his cats? Esophageal Cancer. His third go-round. Sixteen years ago, a surgeon carved a tumor the size of a golf ball out of my ex-husband’s throat. Bill’s neck ended up looking as if a pit bull had mistaken it for dinner – his karma, I suppose, for a three-pack-a-day smoking habit.  Good news is, they got the sucker out.

Except the Big C struck again in 2006. With a vengeance. Inoperable this time. What began as squamous cell carcinoma bred a tumor on Bill’s vocal chord, and the adjacent lymph glands welcomed it like a lover. “Chemo and radiation are your new best friends,” his oncologist told him. (I soon began to wonder who Bill’s worst enemies were.) Quickly wasted by chemo, he required a feeding tube after radiation toasted his tongue and scorched his throat to the point he could no longer swallow. He lost 60 pounds in a heartbeat, and his blood pressure plummeted to a point where most folks greet St. Peter. When the tumor blockaded his oxygen, a tracheotomy was performed. And so began the sitcom.

Everything transpired through a tube

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Roger Allen Johnson

ROGER ALLEN JOHNSON

1947-2003

Repaying a debt of joy

By Bill Jordan

from-bill.jpgInsurance adjuster, X-ray technician, Hypnotherapist, Roger’s legion of friends knew him best as an affable host, always up for making whatever room he was in a better, happier place. So, it would be criminal ingratitude for me to repay a debt of joy with the currency of tears. Roger provided me many happy memories and I will repay him with the interest on that debt and in kind, but never have I found words so heavy than when I tried to lift sad ones to find the happy ones crushed beneath. So I’ll refer to this as a celebration since Roger would be appalled to find himself the cause of an unhappy gathering. He wouldn’t hesitate to remind any of us this is his party and everyone should be having fun. He’d also be asking why there isn’t an open bar, a dance floor, and shouldn’t there be more people here.

I’m not sure he knew middling adjectives

Roger Johnson possessed an audacious enthusiasm for life. Better, faster, more. I never saw his attention waver from living to the fullest every minute, always doing whatever could be done in a single day, and often more. All the things he did were experiences to be shared, breathed through other lips. Even the ones he did alone were so he could go to all his friends and say “You’ve got to try this! It’s amazing!” Few things were “Really good” or “Quite nice” to Roger. I’m not sure he knew middling adjectives. In Roger’s dictionary, the definition of adequate says See amazing. He flung his arms wide and said “Give it to me Life. All of it. I want everything you’ve got.”

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