Daily Breeze columnist John Bogert died in 2012.
Daily Breeze columnist John Bogert died in 2012. (sean hiller)

John Bogert, the Daily Breeze columnist who earned the nickname "The Voice of the South Bay," was among the area's notable deaths in 2012, a list that includes a high school coaching icon, a Tuskegee airman and civic leaders who helped build the region.

John Bogert earned his nickname writing columns in the Daily Breeze for 28 years, charming readers with stories about his family, agitating them with his views on politics, and entertaining them with his wit. By the end of his life, wrote some 6,500 columns.

Five days a week, Bogert wrote columns that touched the nerves of his readers but also made them cry and laugh. His fans particularly enjoyed his columns about his days growing up in Florida and of raising his two daughters and son in California.

Bogert died July 29 at the age of 63 following a lengthy battle with cancer.

Here are the South Bay's other notable deaths in 2012:

Jim Ramsey: A longtime Lawndale civic leader, Ramsey was plain-spoken and gruff, but also played the town's Santa Claus for 38 years.

Ramsey became involved in Lawndale politics shortly after he and his wife moved to the town in the early 1960 s. They became involved as Lawndale was formed into an independent city in Los Angeles County.


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Ramsey served as a councilman for 24 years and for several years as a planning commissioner.

A Farmers Insurance broker, the father of three dressed up as Santa Claus for nearly four decades for the South Bay 25 Club, headlining the city's holiday festivities and riding around Lawndale on a sleigh.

Ramsey died as he prepared to challenge Mayor Harold Hofmann in the April election.

He died Jan. 26 of a heart attack at the age of 74.

Richard Mobley: A surfing pioneer and surfboard shaper who ran Ski Surf Shop in Manhattan Beach on Artesia and Aviation boulevards for 40 years, Mobley was elected to the Hermosa Beach Surfers Walk of Fame in 2011.

A Hermosa Beach resident, Mobley graduated from Mira Costa High School in 1959 and was a mainstay in the South Bay surfing scene. Mobley was highly regarded for his knowledge of the surf and ski industries and attracted customers to his store from throughout the county. He sold the store in 2005.

A husband and father of three children, Mobley crafted boards for years before selling his own under his Mobley brand.

He died March 9 at the age of 70 following an eight-year battle with cancer.

Claude Davis: In the 1940 s, Davis joined an elite group of black pilots at Alabama's Tuskegee Army Airfield that helped break down color barriers in the military. The Tuskegee Airmen were all-black Army Air Corps squadrons trained to fly and maintain combat aircraft during World War II.

Recruits were college-educated with perfect grade-point averages. The son of a Pennsylvania coal miner, Davis had earned an English degree from Ohio's Wilberforce University and was in his early 20 s when he was called to serve his country.

By the end of the war, nearly 1,000 men graduated from pilot training at Tuskegee and nearly half flew combat assignments overseas.

Kay Calas
Kay Calas

Davis spent a decade in the military and settled in Berkeley. He drove a bus, then sold beer to stores and restaurants before becoming a real estate agent. He moved to Southern California in the 1950 s. He and his wife raised three sons and a daughter.

An Inglewood resident, he died April 30 at age 92.

Kay Calas: One of Carson's founders, Calas served as a City Council woman for 29 years.

Along with her husband, John, Calas helped incorporate the city in 1968 and lead it during its transformation from a series of waste dumps and oil production facilities to a large city with a diverse population and business community.

Calas, who moved with a son to Carson in the 1940 s from Missouri, married John Calas, who founded the Carson Chamber of Commerce. They had four sons.

Fred Matua. 2005 file photo.
Fred Matua. 2005 file photo. (Scott Varley / Staff Photographer)

John Calas was elected to the City Council in 1972 but died three years later. Kay Calas ran for office and won in the next seven elections, serving for 29 years until her retirement in 2005.

The Del Amo Boulevard bridge bears her name.

Calas suffered from numerous ailments in recent years and died of heart failure on June 18. She was 88.

Fred Matua: A gregarious 6-foot-2, 310-pound football player, Matua was a former high school All-American lineman at Banning High in Wilmington who later played at USC and had a three-year NFL stint.

Matua powered Banning to its final L.A. City Section championship in 2000 and graduated in 2001. Then he brought a defensive mind-set to USC's offensive line that included Ryan Kalil and Sam Baker, beginning a collegiate career in which he blocked for three Heisman Trophy winners: quarterback Carson Palmer in 2002, quarterback Matt Leinart in 2004 and running back Reggie Bush in 2005.

Matua was part of the 34-game winning streak, the "Bush Push" that helped USC beat Notre Dame in 2005 and the 2005 BCS title game victory over Oklahoma. He spent parts of three seasons with the Detroit Lions, Tennessee Titans, Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins.

He died Aug. 5 following heart surgery. He was 28.

Edward Vincent Jr.: Vincent was the first black mayor of Inglewood and went on to become a state legislator for several years. A former college and pro football player, he worked as a county probation officer for 35 years before he launched his political career in 1978. He first served on the school board, then was elected to the City Council and became the city's first black mayor in 1983. He held that position for 13 years. Vincent served in the Senate from 2000 to 2008.

He died Aug. 31 at the age of 78.

Gene Vollnogle: Vollnogle was a coaching icon, turning Carson High into a national football power in the 1970 s and '80 s. He compiled a 310-73-1 career record, captured eight of the program's 11 L.A. City Section titles (in addition to two city titles at Banning) and 19 league crowns. He also earned the prestigious honor of coaching in the Shrine Game with former West High coach Fred Petersen in 1983.

Vollnogle was considered a player's coach with an old-school mentality. Never one to curse, Vollnogle often would instead use the phrase "geezo peezo." He died in his sleep on Sept. 6. He was 81.

Mervyn Dymally: Dymally was a one-time janitor who rose to become the first black to serve in the California Senate and as the state's lieutenant governor. The Trinidad-born Dymally was also a former teacher and union organizer before embarking on a political career in 1963 that lasted more than 40 years. In Congress, he represented an area that included the city of Carson. He served as chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus and the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Dymally had been in declining health before he died on Oct. 7. He was 86.

Tony Perkov: Perkov owned Ante's, one of San Pedro's best known old-world ethnic restaurants, after his father, Ante Perkov, died in 2001. Perkov was 69 when he died on Oct. 9 after an illness that had kept Ante's closed since Mother's Day.

Perkov taught at San Pedro High School in the 1970 s but was best known by the town's many Croatians and others who frequented Ante's through the years.

Geoff Agisim: While many didn't know his name, Agisism was a much loved and familiar presence along the San Pedro's waterfront the past couple of decades. An East Coast transplant, he sported a full beard - which turned from red to white over the years - and his trademark bell-bottoms and striped sailor shirt as he performed old sea chanteys at Ports O' Call Village and for various festivals, on board ships and at farmers markets.

Agisim died on Oct. 10 at the age of 66 after a short bout with pancreatic cancer. He kept performing up to just weeks before his death at his San Pedro home.

John Greenwood: Greenwood's death on Oct. 11 at the age of 67 was unexpected and stunned many who had come to depend on his ability to broker agreements. At the time of his death, Greenwood was serving as the president of the Los Angeles Coro Foundation. He also was the Harbor Area's representative on the Los Angeles school board in the 1980 s and lost a bid for City Council by only 236 votes.

Greenwood had been selected by then Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn to co-chair a citizens committee reviewing plans for the Ponte Vista housing development.

Bob Fish: The gruff, loveable Fish was a fixture at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach. His larger-than-life persona made the New York native a popular figure at the school. He coached track and field and cross country for 23 years and also served a 10-year stint as athletic director. His voice often bellowed throughout the campus, whether it was his colorful reading of the morning announcements or his antics during one of his many "heated" arguments.

Athletes and students said Fish never held grudges. He died Nov. 25 after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer.

Ted Kerwin: Kerwin was a lifelong Hermosa Beach resident who helped put the town on the map as a Southern Californian surfing destination. Kerwin was the second youngest of nine children of the pioneering surfing family that grew up in a home above their parents' bakery on what is now Pier Avenue. Some of Kerwin's brothers and one sister are honored next to him on the Surfers Walk of Fame, a series of plaques embedded in city pier.

Kerwin had been suffering from a series of ailments and died on Nov. 26 at his home on Monterey Boulevard. He was 89.

- Daily Breeze staff