Wendell D. VanAtta
Ninety three years ago, Wendell D. VanAtta (Van), was born on a farm in Buffalo Prairie, Illinois. He attended Davenport High, where he met his future wife of 72 years, Ramona Pauline Stoner (Mona). After a stint in the U.S. Navy, Van married Mona, graduated from the University of Northern Iowa, taught High School, worked as a contractor, sold cars, and later, as a hobby, restored vintage cars. He was truly a jack-of-all-trades. In 1958, Van followed his brother Don and wife Patty to California for the weather and settled in Orange County.
Inspired by Van’s experience with a telephone directory publisher, Van and Mona started Anchor Publications, a company specializing in local directories for senior communities. After selling the business, they had more than 30 active retirement years, first in San Diego, and later in Santa Barbara.
A long retirement gave Van an opportunity to fully indulge in his “new job,” golf, his favorite pastime. But what made Van so very special and important was how he tirelessly used his time off the links. He volunteered for community organizations throughout his life, including serving as President of the Newport Beach YMCA. He loved to help family and friends in need, and often put his ingenious carpentry, auto care, and other skills to that end. He and Mona generously put their nine grandchildren through college.
In addition to being handy, he was extremely personable and the life of the party. It wasn’t unusual that the date of a party would be moved if he weren’t available. His jokes and genuine love of people made everyone around him happy and feel important.
Van’s devotion to Mona and family go unmatched. He was a good egg. He will be sorely missed.
Van is survived by his wife, Mona, three children Susan Van Atta, Curtis Van Atta, Cynthia Paonessa, their spouses, and eight Grandchildren.