Here a list of the individuals who have passed-on and who by being sober and a member of our AA Community shaped the very nature of sobriety in the SCV.
Tell us how your Sober Friends and Loved Ones in A.A. have changed your life forever. They do not have to have recently departed for you to make a submission.
New submissions will be published here and in the next print version on the Gazette.
In Memory of:Scott Donelson, Newhall, CA, Newhall, CA
Homegroup::The Rafters Group, Newhall, CAThe Rafters Group, Newhall, CA
Scott Donelson was my very best friend. When I would call him I’d always say “Hi Scott – it’s me!” and he would quickly reply “Hi me!” I loved that. I could hear his smile right through the phone and I knew I had a friend that I could always count on.
It would be easy to talk about all of Scott’s many accomplishments – he was a highly successful businessman, husband, and father. Before I really got to know Scott, I used to be so envious of him because he appeared to be so successful. As I got to know him better and love him I became ashamed because the car that he drove, the money, property, and prestige was really not what Scott was about at all. He was so beautiful and so full of grace and dignity that it humbled me. It was harsh to realize I could be so petty. This realization was just one of the many blessings and personal insights that Scott gave me.
I first met Scott 17 years ago at the Maclay Men’s Group in Pacoima. It was a weekly meeting that met every Tuesday night for Ted. We both were relatively new in the program; sadly I didn’t get close to Scott until some years later. After a hiatus that lasted a few years, the meeting restarted here in Santa Clarita. Gary Carlson had a very close friend named Scott that he was concerned about so he asked if he could bring him to the meeting. Gary felt the meeting would be a good, safe place for Scott to open up. This is when our friendship really began. Thank you Gary.
Shortly there-after I had the bright idea to starting the SCV Convention. Poor Scott – he had no idea what was about to hit him! At this point the convention was just pie-in-the-sky – a vague idea. I needed a Co-Chair - someone that new how to run an overly complicated operation and be a great leader – I needed Scott.
The A.A. Community in Santa Clarita was terribly splintered at the time and we saw the convention as something that could bring us all together again and rebuild the fellowship. Over the years we saw our dream grow into reality. It was beautiful and we were always there smiling at each other in wonder and disbelief. Of course I made some terrible mistakes but Scott was always there willing to forget –– willing to forgive – willing to move on, towards the Solution. He had seen the worst of me and loved me anyway. We held no secrets from each other. We shared a spiritual bond that I didn’t think was possible - we trusted each other with our darkest fears and our brightest hopes. He gave me the strength and courage to keep moving forward.
Over the past few weeks when it became apparent that Scott was getting ready to leave us, I spent some time reviewing Scott and Shannon’s personal photo albums to create the video montage of Scott.
One of the treasures I discovered right away was Scott’s Baby Album. Scott’s mother Sharon had kept track of some of Scott’s early accomplishments during his first few years – noting his budding personality which was immediately apparent. One of the very first notes Sharon wrote was underneath a picture of Scott when he was just a few days old. The note described Scott as “Sweetie Pie #2 - Always Smiling!” That was Scott. Until the very end he was always smiling. Always seeing the good in you and making you feel good about yourself – with just a smile.
Scott’s life was filled with many harsh challenges that I would have easily wilted under. That picture of him as an infant was in a hospital in an incubator – Scott was a preemie – just the first of many difficult personal challenges in his life that he had to overcome.
Scott turned 20 years sober this last Valentine’s Day. He was a leader in our community and although he was in the hospital that day he was surrounded by those who loved him to wish him a happy anniversary. My wife Valisa was coincidentally in the hospital and the same time. In spite of his dire circumstances, Scott kept asking me “Is Valisa ok?”
He was a shining example of the program in action. When I asked him to be a part of the convention his son Dallas was just three, his daughter Devyn had just been born and even still he agreed to do it. He had an incredible work ethic and understood that God doesn’t give us any more than we can handle. He never once missed on a chance to be of service. Even during some very dark times, Scott knew he couldn’t turn his back on us and the program.
Scott understood the healing power of Giving and being of Service to others… to everyone he met. Even in his fight with cancer Scott didn’t stop giving. During the ravages of chemo he started an on-line forum exposing his struggles with the cancer emotionally and physically – posting videos with frank discussions about his fears and vulnerabilities – sharing his experience, strength and hope so that other suffers could find the solace that they are not alone.
The last meeting he attended was one we took to him at his home. It was packed – nearly 30 men showed up. It was a wonderful meeting and we all got to share our love for him. He was very weak but he hung in there until nearly all of us had shared and then he spoke. He said he was going on a journey very soon. That he didn’t know where it was he was going but he wasn’t afraid. He was excited because he knew he would learn the answers to all the mysteries of this life. At the end of his talk he looked at me right in the eye across the meeting and thanked me for taking care of him these past few years. It shattered me because he is the one that had been taking care of me!
He went through his passing in the same manner that he lived his life – in simple quiet strength and dignity - concerned more about the people he loved than his own personal suffering.
As much as he loved the fellowship - he loved his family, wife and children even more. His brother Wayne, His mother Sharon, his cousins, and especially his Grandmother he cherished. Dallas and Devyn – you were the light of his life. Shannon was everything to him.
He was the greatest example of what a man really is that I have ever known and I will live the rest of my days trying to emulate his strength and courage and love.
He is gone – but I think a little closer to all of us – in our smiles and expressions of love and friendship for each other.
In Memory of:Jim Buckley, Granada Hills, CA, Granada Hills, CA
Homegroup::The Rafters Group, Newhall, CAThe Rafters Group, Newhall, CA
Passing of an AA Icon
On the south side of Chicago, on April 30, 1935, Rose and Jim Buckley welcomed James Howard Buckley to the world. Jim was a quiet, skinny kid who was chased and picked on because of his red hair. He was known as a scrapper. (That means fighter in case you didn’t know.) It was a much simpler time. Jim’s dog Jipper followed him to school everyday and waited for him to get out. There were taverns on every corner where Jim and other kids would hang out. If Jim went to the store with a quarter he always came back with change. (I wonder what he got with a quarter back then.)
Jim’s family took a lot of trips. They had close family ties and spent a lot of time on weekends on a farm in Michigan. He loved to go to the farm to work in his grandfather’s woodshop. Being the only son, Jim was held in great standing. His Uncle Gene told him if he could handle backing the truck up towards the highway, that he would teach him to drive. Well, Jim got up early one morning and decided to “drive” towards the highway, but ran into the woodshop instead. After that, they decided Jim may have been a little too young to drive and that they would wait until he turned 12 to try again. Another trip they liked to take was to Indian Lake. Uncle Gene would pack the kids and the car and just go. Jim’s mother, Rose, would always supply a picnic lunch. They were very happy kids. Mom Rose did everything because Jim’s dad was frequently gone. Rose worked two jobs the whole time Chucky and Jim were growing up.
Jim went to St. Maurice Grammar School and St Joseph’s High School. He also attended Tilden Tech School with 7,000 other students. Jim met Percy at St. Joseph’s High School. He was 3 years older. Percy worked at Goldblatt’s Department store in the pet department. Jim and Percy took walks in Marguerite Park. Jim also taught Percy to drive in that park. Jim liked his cars and would always carry cash to pay off the cops if he got pulled over. Jim would take Percy to a diner called “Pinto’s” that stayed open late.
Jim was 19 and Priscilla 17, when they got married at the Knight’s of Columbus Hall on August 27, 1955. They enjoyed going to car races, going to downtown Chicago to see the shows and relaxing at Rainbow Beach.
In 1955, Priscilla and Jim lost a set of twins, by miscarriage. This devastated them both. Priscilla became pregnant again in 1956 with James Joseph Buckley who was born in April of 1957. Patrick Thomas Buckley was born next in November of 1958. In 1958, they moved to California where Jim loaded box cars and worked as a carpenter and a cement finisher. He had his own business selling Christmas trees. They moved back to Chicago where Jim built a house for Percy and her sister. Two more children were born during this time. They had Debra Maria in February of 1960 and Timothy Francis in March of 1962.
In 1963, the family drove to California in a Chevy station wagon, this time to stay for good. Jim built a lot of homes in Santa Clarita, including the Galaxy track which is near Sand Canyon and Soledad Canyon Road. He was the super on that project. That’s when Jim’s drinking picked up.
The Buckley’s often went camping on the weekends and always went to church on Sunday. Sometimes they pulled the kids out of school on Friday to go on shooting and fishing trips. Debbie didn’t like the shooting trips. On the winding roads, they would have to pull over so she could throw up.
Jim and Priscilla didn’t only have small dogs. They also had a big German Shepherd. Jim and Priscilla went to Las Vegas a lot. They saw Elvis Presley several times. Priscilla loved to sit up front and Jim made sure she always had a good seat at the shows.
Jim’s children have shared their favorite memory with me about their father; Pat’s favorite memory is when Jim was holding two fish that he had caught during one of their fishing trips; Tim’s favorite remembrance of his father was of a skateboard made of walnut that Jim had made himself; Debbie loved to button her dad’s top button on his shirt. He had cut his finger and so he needed help. Before he died, Jim asked to be shaved. Jim Jr. will always remember the final shave he gave his father.
Jim got sober on January 20, 1981 and he passed away on November 14, 2008. Jim will always be remembered as a loving husband and father and to the rest of us a dear friend.
Jim was my sponsor and will be missed by many.
In Memory of:Steve Jensen, Newhall, CASteve Jensen, Newhall, CA
Homegroup::The Rafters Group, Newhall, CAA
In memory Steve Jensen: Died Nov. 11/2007 Steve had attended the Rafters for over 20 years. He helped many people throughout his sobriety, and has been familiar face to all. Steve led the Sunday afternoon Jam sessions throughout his time, and will always be remembered. Steve left behind: 2 sons 1 daughter and 2 grandchildren. You will always be in our hearts Steve!
In Memory of:Valerie H. of Palmdale, CAValerie H. of Palmdale, CA
Homegroup: A Gathering Of Women, Quartz Hill, CA
Valerie was a blessing in my life. In 2006, she taught me that it does not matter how many years we have in AA there comes a time when our defenses are down. After a 14 year, battle with cancer she took one (1) drink and Valerie needed to identify as a newcomer. She honored me by asking me to sponsor her because she knew she needed to get back to basics as she did 27 years earlier.
Valerie and I took the steps – this was difficult at times because she was also undergoing cancer treatments that left her weak and at times unable to organize her thoughts. Her one wish/prayer was to make it to one year and be able to finish her fifth (5th) step - she was able to complete this vital step. When she was finished, she confirmed the importance of this by saying “this is what I needed to let go all my resentment, anger, remorse and accept the journey God has for me”. I was able to witness the transformation and see her go from fear to peace. WHAT AN HONOR THIS WAS FOR ME. I will never forget that day. I love you Val.
Six months into her battle, she was unable to attend meetings, so we took meeting to her home. Three months ago, she was hospice and again she was very week but always remembered September 19 was her one year.
On Wednesday, September 19, 2007, I had the privilege to give Valerie her year medallion in her home.
Valerie passed away Sunday, September 23, 2007, after a valiant fight with cancer.
For Ron Bell:
I knew Ron Bell since I got sober; he was hard to miss. At a meeting if asked if there were any visitors, Ron would say, "Yeah, I'm Ron from Afghanistan." When I met Ron, he was a house painter who was legally blind, but driving an old pick up truck. When I saw how he sometimes missed things painting, I sure knew didn't want to share the road with him driving!
Ron loved Cindy, his son Kolbey, his bike rides, the Grateful Dead & the Moody Blues. I went to concerts with Ron & we even attended sober meetings during the intermissions. What I'll always remember most is his big, grey-blue eyes, brimming with mischief, long tossled hair and the ever present scent of patchouli. We laughed a lot whenever Ron was around & just thinking of him brings a smile to me. That's his gift to me -- his infectious smile & impish sense of playfulness & humor.
Adios amigo, via con dios & sweet sugar magnolias wherever you are.
XO ~Susan Chamberlain
For Ron Bell:
The thing I most remember about Ron is the sincere warmth and love that he communicated with each hug. The first time I ever hugged Ron, I was new to the Santa Clarita Valley, and had attended the Oldtimers meeting at the Rafters. I was impressed with something Ron had shared, and with his quiet humor, and when I thanked him for sharing after the meeting, he hugged me. While I consider my hugs to be sincere and warm, his was truly something special. I love you Ron, and always will. Enjoy your new Home!
For Ron Bell:
I have been a perimeter friend of Ron's only through the program, but still observed and laughed out loud and frequently when Ron was around. He had and energy and a vibrant way of doing life that I admired. I will miss his contributions to the piles of laughs that he generated.
Thanks Ron - God Bless You on your new journey!
~ Electric Bill
For Ron Bell:
I am writing this for my friend Ron Bell who died suddenly last week. (03-06-06)
When you come into AA you really don't know what to expect. Your so concerned about how not to drink just today but in the back of your mind it's the rest of your f___king life. And then you start to meet the people - the one's that are a bit odd at times but [with who] you can definitely relate.
Ron Bell was one of those people that was there for me in the very beginning of my sobriety. He was into a lot of different things than I was but he was a cool young man, clean and sober on the path of recovery. He made a lasting impression on my mind and he will always be in my heart.
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES RON!
SAVE ME A SEAT AT THE "BIG MEETING IN THE SKY"
Sincerely, Randy B.
For Larry Floyd:
Bascom Lorraine "LARRY" Floyd died on 11 January 2006 at Antelope Valley Hospital. He was 59 years of age. Larry was a direct descendent of William Floyd one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. He came from a long line of Masons dating back to King Solomon. His order was 132118451854. He died of cardiac arrest caused by massive internal bleeding of an unknown cause. Larry was a continuously sober member of Alcoholics' Anonymous San Fernando Group since 19 July 1984, and had recently quit smoking. Larry had many friends and acquaintances that are affiliated with Alcoholics' Anonymous in several counties in Southern California. He was preceded in death by his sons Sebastain and Caruso, and is survived by his wife Carlyn Steelman-Floyd and seven children from a previous marriage.