In Passing – May 2024

Thomas Anthony Brand

Thomas Anthony Brand

Tom Brand, the iconic 90-year-old role model, passed away April 9, 2024. Tom embodied the iron laws of family love and duty as husband, father, grandfather, father-in-law, and stepfather. Tom gladly shared his wisdom, experience, accomplishments, and challenges through his great affinity for meaningful dialogue. Family patriarch was Tom’s greatest role and accomplishment.

Tom’s problem-solving abilities were legendary. Golf, a passion for Tom, did not respond to those exceptional skills. Perhaps his Catholic faith reassured Tom that a golf solution was at hand, but none was ever found. Bridge followed golf as another ongoing problem-solving opportunity. He enjoyed hiking the Oregon coast, dusty desert trails, and the Italian coastline.

Along with brothers Fred and John, Tom grew up in Wausau, Wis., as an avid skier and outdoorsman. Tom graduated with a chemical engineering degree from the University of Notre Dame. He developed lasting relationships with the University and classmates that continued throughout the years and the distances.

After graduation, Tom proudly served as an officer in the U.S. Navy. When his military service ended, he began working for Dupont in Kentucky while simultaneously earning an MBA. Tom’s career took off in Minnesota when he started with Fiberite, then to California, and concluded in Arizona. His commitment to problem-solving helped Tom to advance. He led Fiberite into becoming a multinational corporation.

In Kentucky, Tom discovered the solution to being single. Her name was LaVetra.

Tom met LaVetra Armstrong on a blind date. They married on the day of the Kentucky Derby. Tom clearly was the winner that year. Their 44-year marriage included four children: Claire (Mark), Kate (Dan), Steve (Myndi), and Tony, and four grandchildren: Bryan, Ruby, Charlotte, and John. He made relationships with each child and grandchild a priority. Tom’s wife LaVetra passed away in 2004, and son Steve in 2010.

Now a widower, Tom, ever the problem-solver, met Kathleen Zawadzki while at Mass. This union included her children Leticia (Sean) and Philip. Their marriage led to travels and adventures for almost two decades that continued until Tom’s passing.

Tom’s commitment to his Catholic faith guided his life. Through Tom’s faith, support, and dedication to his family, friends, church, and Fiberite, Thomas Anthony Brand was a role model for all.

(Aug. 28, 1933 to April 9, 2024)

Funeral Mass for Tom Brand was April 22, 2024, at St. Steven’s Catholic Church in Sun Lakes.

Roy Lee Gorham Jr.

Roy Lee Gorham Jr.

Roy Lee Gorham Jr., age 82, of Sun Lakes, Ariz., passed away on April 3, 2024. He was born on March 2, 1942, in Nashville, Tenn. Roy is survived by his loving wife of 40 years, Patricia (Patti) Gorham, and their combined family of five children, 14 grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren.

Born in Nashville, Roy moved to Southern California with his family when he was 8 years old. After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the Air Force. Shortly thereafter, he married his first wife, with whom he had three children: Jeff, Cindy, and Mark. Tragically, his first wife passed away at a young age.

In 1983, Roy found love again and married Patricia, blending their families. Roy was proud to take on the role of stepfather to Patti’s two children from her previous marriage.

Roy had a successful career as an ink and coatings maker, starting from the shop floor and working his way up to Manager. His dedication to his craft led him to relocate to Louisiana for 10 years to pursue career advancement opportunities.

Upon his retirement in 2011, Roy settled in Arizona, where he relished the camaraderie of the senior community he resided in and actively participated in his local church.

A man of unwavering faith, Roy lived his life for Jesus and was a shining example of goodness and kindness to all who knew him. His family and friends will deeply miss his presence, but they take comfort in knowing that he is now in the arms of his Savior.

Roy Lee Gorham Jr. will forever be remembered for his loving heart, strong faith, and the unforgettable mark he left on the lives of those around him.

Nancy S. Gross

Nancy S. Gross

Nancy S. Gross, 85 years old, was born on the North Side of Chicago and passed away peacefully at home surrounded by family on Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Sun Lakes, Ariz.

Nancy’s 64-year love affair with Corkey began when they met through the apparel industry. Nancy was working at Allied Purchasing as an Associate Apparel Buyer, and Corkey worked with his brother representing several apparel manufacturers. After getting married, they were fortunate to have their son, Jeffrey, and daughter, Vicky. Then the family grew with four grandchildren (Ashley, Jacqueline, Alexis, and Jacob) and one great-granddaughter (Avery). In addition, their love of animals grew as the years went by and they owned dogs, horses, cats, birds, etc. After raising their children, she returned to her career as an Accounting Executive before becoming co-owner of the family pet store. After 12 years at the pet store, she returned to the accounting world until she retired in 2002.

As a child, Nancy thoroughly enjoyed her ballet lessons and recitals. In her young adult years, she enjoyed going to the movies and occupied her time with friends. As Nancy blossomed into adulthood, she was an avid reader and a master of puzzles of all kinds. While living in Illinois, she was on a traveling tennis team. But her true loves were that of her home, her gardening, and spending time outdoors, although family was the meaning of her life.

For health reasons, Nancy and Corkey moved to the Southwest where they lived for over 20 years. Nancy enjoyed meeting new people and making friends through her mah jongg and card groups. Her many true friends became extended members of her family.

Nancy is survived by her loving husband of 64 years, Corwin Gross; son, Jeffrey Gross of Antioch, Ill.; daughter, Vicky Gross of Sun Lakes, Ariz.; grandchildren: Ashley Hayner of Bristol, Wis., Alexis Gross of Downers Grove, Ill., Jacob Gross of Antioch, Ill., and Jacqueline Harnden of Wimauma, Fla.; one great-grandchild: Avery Harnden of Wimauma, Fla.; brother Arthur (Barb) Salins of Elgin, Ill. She is preceded in passing by her parents, Jewell and Gertrude Salins; in-laws, Hyman and Helen Gross; her daughter-in-law, Christi Gross; and grandson-in-law, James Harnden.

The family would like to give special thanks to Dr. Robert Bloomberg for over 20 years of care, and her care teams from Summit Hospice and Home Instead.

In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Nancy may be made to a COPD or animal organization of your choice.

A private celebration of Nancy’s life will be held at a later date.

For remembrances and condolences to Nancy’s family, please visit

Judy Hennick

Judy Hennick

Judy Hennick, age 81, of Sun Lakes, Ariz., passed away on Sunday, March 31. Judy is survived by her sister, Barbara Arrowood; children, Terri Goode (Andrew), Rob Hennick (Sharon), and Ken Hennick; grandchildren Ryan, Kelsey, Lindsey, Tanner, and Hannah; and great-grandchildren Hunter and Mia.

Judy was born on Jan. 25, 1943, in Cleveland, Ohio, to Frank and Vera Blogna. The Blogna family moved to southern California in the mid-1950s, where Judy later married and raised her family. After her father passed away in 1994, Judy took care of her mother until she passed away in 2005. In 2006 she moved to Sun Lakes, to be close to her daughter who resides in Chandler, Ariz.

Judy loved her family and will be dearly missed. A Celebration of Life will take place at a later date in Chandler.

Condolences may be expressed at Judy Hennick, (1943 – 2024) – Online Memorials:

William (Bill) Holmes

William (Bill) Holmes

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of beloved husband and father, William (Bill) Holmes who left us on April 10, 2024. There is no doubt that his departure has left a void in our lives that can never be filled.

Bill is survived by his wife, Madeline, and his two girls, Kerri and Joanne, as well as his son-in-law, Jason, and two grandchildren, Cassidy and Connor.

Bill was born in Baldwin, N.Y., in 1942 and lived on Long Island until they relocated to Arizona in 2004. He was retiring from a long career of driving semi-trucks hauling fuel and vehicles in the tri-state area. Bill loved Arizona and was so happy they moved to such a beautiful place. He loved to say the weather was “boringly nice” every day. There was no doubt that he belonged here in the West as he always loved horses and dreamed of living the cowboy lifestyle. He also loved his John Wayne movies!

He really enjoyed spending time playing golf with the Niners, Texas Hold ‘Em, and pool (he was “Trucker” Bill Holmes on the Breakers) at the local clubhouse with his buddies. Those who knew him know he was full of great stories and always loved to tell them!

Though he is no longer with us in body, his spirit will live on in our hearts forever.

Susan Inman

Susan Inman

Susan Mary Inman was born to Patricia and Bernard Nicholaisen in Paterson, N.J., and was raised in Colorado from a young age. Susan is survived by her loving husband and best friend, Jay Inman, her daughter Barbara Wenzl, and her son Jonathan Inman. She was preceded in death by her father, Bernard Nicholaisen. Susan leaves behind her mother, Patricia Nicholaisen; her three sisters, Debra Woller (Ron), Patricia Leslie Revell (Bryce), and Joan Byrd; five step-children; 13 grandchildren; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Susan earned her cosmetology license and loved to cut hair professionally and did so for several years until hairstyles became too extreme for her liking. She continued to cut hair on the side while working other jobs to help support her family. After moving to Sun Lakes with her husband, she went to work as a Robson gate guard and enjoyed that job for 15 years. Susan loved to read, play games on her tablet, sew, do crafts with her grandchildren, work in the yard, take care of others, and gather with friends.

Susan was an amazing wife and best friend to her husband of 36 years, always being there to love and support him in their journey together. She was also a loving mother to her children and was always there for them through the good times and bad times. She was their best friend and someone they could always talk to.

Susan was loved by all who knew her and will be greatly missed but not forgotten.

George Kanda

George Kanda

George Makoto Kanda, a cherished husband, devoted father, and beloved grandfather, passed away on March 14, 2024, in Sun Lakes, Ariz., at the age of 88. George’s life, spanning nearly nine decades, was characterized by unwavering love, dedication, and an enduring commitment to family and friends.

Born on May 8, 1935, in Steveston, British Columbia, Canada, George was the fourth of six children born to Yoshio and Fusako Kanda. Much of his childhood was spent in Toronto, where he forged lifelong bonds with his siblings.

George’s journey through life was marked by love and partnership. For 57 remarkable years, he was the devoted husband of Karen, his lifelong companion. Together, they created a home filled with warmth, laughter, and love.

As a father, George was a pillar of strength and support to his sons, Steve and Peter, and their families. His love, guidance, and wisdom will forever resonate in their hearts. George took immense pride in his role as a grandfather to Madeline and Will, who adored their “Papa”.

George’s professional life was characterized by dedication and excellence. After completing his education, where he played intercollegiate hockey at RIT, he embarked on a 33-year career with the 3M Company, where he served with distinction in quality engineering until his retirement in 1996.

George will be fondly remembered for his gentle spirit, his unwavering kindness, and his infectious laughter. He touched the lives of all who had the privilege of knowing him.

He is preceded in death by his sister, Marianne Abe, and brother, Henry Kanda. He leaves behind his loving wife, Karen; sons, Steve (Katie) and Peter (Debbie); grandchildren, Madeline and Will; sisters, Esther Nishimura (late George), Clara Noriko Ferguson (late Ralph), and Beth Matsugu (Harry); and a host of nieces, nephews, extended family members, and friends.

In honoring George’s memory, donations can be made to the National Kidney Foundation, 30 East 33rd St, New York, NY 10016.

Curtis Larson

Curtis Larson, age 91, of Sun Lakes, Ariz., passed away on Thursday, March 14, 2024.

Curt was born March 21, 1932, in Bisbee, N.D. He married Lydia Westemeier, also from Bisbee, on June 26, 1954. He attended North Dakota State University and received a B.S. degree in pharmacy in 1954. After college, he trained and served for three years as a pilot in the United States Air Force.

For many years afterwards, Curt was a pharmacist at drug stores that he owned in Mayville and Hillsboro, N.D. He was an active member of the Mayville community where he lived and also in his church there. After retirement in 1988, he was able to spend more time at his lake cabin in Minnesota. Sun Lakes became a winter destination, and more recently was his permanent home.

Curt was very generous and hospitable. He and his wife hosted many wonderful family gatherings throughout his life. He also had a passion for education, which included supporting NDSU and Mayville State University.

Curt is survived by Lydia, his wife of 69 years; son Mark Larson; grandchildren Valerie (Ethan) Brule, Joseph (Misha) Larson, and Jacob Larson; and great-grandchildren Kailey, Livia, and Miles.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Oscar and Emma Larson, and siblings Patricia Larson, Joyce Kollman, and Glenn Austin Larson.

A funeral service was held on April 13 at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Chandler, Ariz.

Memorials may be sent to Neighbors Who Care of Sun Lakes or Holy Trinity Lutheran Church Memorial Fund, Chandler.

Dr. Ernest Matuschka

Dr. Ernest Matuschka

Dr. Ernest Matuschka died on March 29, 2024, in Sun Lakes. He was the son of the Rev. Milton and Edna (Petermann) Matuschka. He was born in Omaha, Neb., on Nov. 22, 1929, and moved with his parents at the age of 3 months to Bertrand, Neb., where he spent a happy childhood. He attended all 12 years of public school at Bertrand. He was active in athletics where he lettered in football, basketball, and track. He attended Kearney State College graduating with a B.A. degree in 1951. He then entered the United States Air Force as a private and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1952. He was transferred to the USAF Reserve and retired as a Major. He was a Korean War veteran.

After his separation from active duty, he taught in Kirk, Colo., and then attended the University of Northern Colorado where he received his master’s degree. He was a member of Phi Delta Kappa. Then he taught in Rialto, Calif., for eight years and also coached football and track. In 1963 he was a counselor and taught psychology at Paris American High School in Paris, France. The next two years he served as the Director of Guidance in Mannheim, Germany. The family returned to the United States, and he earned a Ph.D. at the University of North Dakota. In 1970, he accepted a professorship at the University of Nebraska at Kearney and retired in 1990 having spent 39 years in the field of education. In 1994, they began a new adventure of “snowbirding” in Arizona, moving full time to Sun Lakes in 2010.

He was married to Verla Lee Smith on Sept. 16, 1951, and to this union four children were born.

He is survived by his wife Verla; son Paul (Cheryl), their children Jordan, Cole, Carolyn, and David; son Mark, his children Aaron (Catie), Jimmy, and Mikki (Logan) Mitchell; daughter Diane Matuschka; and daughter Laurie Grassmeyer, her sons Ryan and Kyle (Jen). Also, eight great-grandchildren and a host of relatives, friends, and former students.

He was preceded in death by his parents, sister Kathleen Shirk and her husband Everett, brothers-in-law Spencer Griffith, Spencer Fox, Darell Smith, Darrel Meyer, sisters-in-law Lenore Fox, Merna Smith, and daughter-in law Christy Matuschka.

He lived a full life pursuing many different interests. He wrote four books on family history and wrote four historical novels with a friend in Kentucky. He recently published a book on Haiku and Poetry. He also translated a book from German to English.

He will be buried at Fort McPherson Military Cemetery near North Platte, Neb., with full military honors.

Georgie A. Norris

Georgie A. Norris

Georgie A. Norris, 83, of Sun Lakes, died Sunday morning, March 3, 2024. Born Georgie Ann Neilsen, the fourth daughter of George and Leone Hink Neilsen, on July 17, 1940, in Yankton, S.D.

In 1958, Georgie graduated with honors from Stillwater High School, Stillwater, Minn. She received a Presidential Scholarship to attend Adams State College in Alamosa, Colo., majoring in elementary education with minors in business education and music. She was active in many varied activities in college, but her true passion was her music: piano, organ, and singing in the renowned ASC Acapella Choir.

As secretary to the Dean of the Music Department, she met her future husband, a music major from California, Ed Norris. They were married in 1961, and both finished their degrees by 1964. They started teaching at Travis AFB in Fairfield, Calif. 1968 brought their precious Jennifer Lynn Norris into the world.

The young family moved to Minnesota in 1969 to be near grandparents and relatives. Ed became the music teacher in Balaton, Minn., working for Georgie’s father, the superintendent of schools. Both also taught in Luverne, Minn.

In 1973, the family moved back to Colorado. To run and eventually buy a friend’s music store. Georgie became the bookkeeper in the family music store. After nine years working for the music store, Georgie and Ed got teaching jobs in Lamar, Colo. Both retired in 2000 and moved to Sun Lakes, like so many of their relatives and friends who didn’t want to shovel snow any more.

For Georgie, retirement in Sun Lakes was like heaven. She could sing in the Sun Lakes Chorale, gather around the piano when her sisters were here, line dance with several different groups in the area, and play golf.

Georgie was a remarkable lady; although shy, she loved being around everybody and everybody loved being around her.

The family wishes to thank Hospice of the Valley for all the loving care they gave Georgie in her final days.

Georgie is survived by her husband, Ed Norris, and her granddaughter, Kysandra Phillips. She is also survived by her three sisters: Carol Taves and Shirley Theissen of Stillwater, Minn., and Virginia McRae of Redding, Calif., as well as many nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Georgie’s Memorial will be held at a later date in her favorite place on earth, Stillwater, Minn.

Patricia Kay Smith

Patricia Kay Smith

Pat Smith was born Patricia Kay Bush to Lois and Wilbur Bush on Feb. 14, 1943, in Bedford, Ohio. She was the youngest of two children, and looked up to her older sister Barb. They remained close their entire lives. Pat passed away on March 15, 2024, the very anniversary of Barb’s passing 11 years ago.

Pat loved helping people and pursued nursing as a career. While working as a nurse at the Cleveland clinic, Pat met and married Rich Post, who was attending dental school. Upon graduation, Rich joined the U.S. Air Force and they moved to West Germany where their two children, Stacey and Steven, were born. After their tour in Europe, they made their way to Utah, where Rich started a private practice, and Pat earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Utah and became a registered nurse.

In 1973 Pat became a single mother with two small children. She joined the U.S. Army and was commissioned as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps. This began her illustrious military career, having worked as a head nurse in an intensive care unit and other various leadership positions. In 1979 she married Don Smith, a U.S. Army helicopter pilot. They both attended Baylor University and earned master’s degrees in health administration.

Pat returned to Germany working on a major Department of Defense initiative to modernize U.S. Army medical facilities in Europe. She oversaw the design of new clinics and hospitals. While stationed in Germany, Pat volunteered to join the war in Kuwait being deployed to Operation Desert Storm. She was instrumental in setting up and running a Mobile Hospital Unit on the front lines.

After serving almost 20 years in the Army and reaching the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, she retired in 1994. Over her military career she received numerous awards. By the time she retired from the Army, she had become a grandmother. At her request, her grandchildren affectionately call her “GG,” which stands for “Gorgeous Grandma!”

Pat was a philanthropist, investing in her own family members’ educational pursuits and business ventures so that they could follow their dreams. She gave of her time and talents in service to her country, church, family, and friends. Pat also served a two-year mission in the Marshall Islands for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Pat loved travel and adventure. Whether it was salmon fishing in Alaska, white water rafting in Austria, cruises with her daughter Stacey, touring Europe with her son Steven, or an excursion to Ireland and Scotland, Pat loved to experience different places.

In her retirement, Pat moved to Sun Lakes. She could be found on the golf course at least twice a month. She was part of the Bowlero bowling league. Pat also enjoyed musical bingo and bunco nights at the country club. Pat loved singing in the choir and participated both in her church choir and the Sun Lakes community choir. She loved to spend time with her kids and grandkids playing card games, bowling, golfing, swimming, and billiards.

Pat will be remembered as a loving mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Pat is survived by her two children, nine grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, and her “wee” Scotty dog, Angus McGregor.

Pat will forever be missed and will always hold a special place within our hearts.

Kenneth T. Tonkinson

Kenneth T. Tonkinson

Kenneth T. Tonkinson, age 83, of Sun Lakes, Ariz., passed away on March 20, 2024. He was born on June 10, 1940, in Flushing, N.Y., to Reverend C. Frank and Dorothy Tonkinson. Ken grew up in Pond Eddy, N.Y., and graduated from Eldred Central High School. He received his master’s degree in Guidance Counseling from West Virginia University. Ken enjoyed a 28-year career as a guidance counselor with the Wappingers Central School District in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., retiring in June of 1995.

Ken was also proud to serve his country as a member of the Air National Guard having enlisted in 1963 and receiving a direct commission to 2nd Lieutenant. He served 31 years in both the West Virginia and New York Air National Guard. During his last 13 years of military service he held the position of Commanding Officer of the 105th Aerial Port Squadron. Lieutenant Colonel Tonkinson was awarded Outstanding Reserve Senior Officer of the year and received the Air Force Commendation Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal. Ken credited his family as the key to his military success. One of the proudest moments in his military career was when his wife Gloria and mother Dot pinned him with a brevet promotion to Colonel.

Ken was a 27-year volunteer bus driver for Castle Point Veterans Hospital in Beacon, N.Y., working with veterans who had suffered severe spinal cord injuries. Driving these veterans to multiple events, including the annual wheelchair national competitions, was incredibly rewarding. Ken loved playing golf and enjoyed the fellowship of his many golfing friends. Although he didn’t have his Harley to ride in Arizona, it was one of his fondest memories while in New York. Ken also had his private pilot’s license and would take his sons flying with him often around Dutchess County, N.Y.

Ken is survived by his wonderful wife Gloria of 38 years, sons Scott Tonkinson and Dr. Gregory Tonkinson, daughter-in-law Jennifer, and sister Lynn Brent. Ken is also survived by an ever-growing family of grandchildren in Arizona including Ryan, Caden and his wife Nicole, Megan and her fiance Mat, Bailey, Zachary, Malia, and Luke, as well as great-granddaughter Katerina. Ken’s extended family includes his niece Laurie and her husband Frank of New York and nephews Michael Brent and wife Marisa, and Peter John Brent and wife Suki of Florida.