A Farewell to our Beloved Dr. Richard Jonas
Dr. Richard Squire Jonas passed away February 16, 2022, just over 76 years after his first date with Johann, held in love by his family, grandchildren and his many friends, and fellow community members. He lived 93 years of a richly loving, successful and honorable life of service, generosity, humor, medicine, friendship, family, and still deeply in love with Johannn. He will be missed.
Dr. Richard S Jonas, MD born in Glendale, CA on September 25, 1928. As a child, Dick was known as “Blackie” for his jet black hair, and was a hard working student who was liked by his fellow classmates with whom he developed a balance of work and play that he enjoyed life long. His humor and warmth moved everyone who met him. (If you ever met Dick, you certainly know what this means).
At age 17 at a backwards dance at Glendale High School, he met 16-year old Johann Wertz and the two immediately fell in love. Their first dates included a night at the Los Angeles Palladium Theater, where they heard Doris Day sing “Sentimental Journey” with the Les Brown Orchestra, a song that would remind them of their early months for the ensuing seven decades of life together.
Dick and Johann married not once (January 28, 1950), not twice (June 1951), but three times (August 1951), thanks to a snafu in the rules of marrying before receiving his military orders. The three marriage certificates were framed together and hung next to their bed for decades, reminding everyone of their remarkable connection.
After Korea, Dick went to USC Medical School on the GI Bill and chose to practice medicine as an ObGyn. The young couple vetted various Southern California communities before choosing Newport Beach to start their family and his practice with Dr. Fritz Westerhout, and later Dr. John Applegate. Starting in 1958 with their first son, Stephan, followed in 1966 with Christopher, and then, as a total surprise when Dick was 41, with Jason in 1969, the family grew as did Dick’s ObGyn medical practice.
He said “as a doctor, the most important part of your work is to take the time to listen to and serve your patients,” a quality that made him beloved to his patients, earning the respect of the nurses and doctors who worked alongside him. Over his 30 years of practicing medicine, Dick delivered thousands of children, many of whom were the granddaughters of his original patients. He was an avid advocate for women’s reproductive rights, culminating in service on the Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood of Southern California.
In 1979, after the commercial expansion of the Santa Ana Airport and the resulting jet noise that was a constant presence, the family moved to Laguna Beach, finding a beautiful home on a hillside of pine trees in Emerald Bay. There, the Pacific Ocean was a constant fascination for Dick and his family, watching the migration of the California Grey Whales, some fifteen-thousand sunsets, and was the backdrop for many gatherings with Dick and Johann’s remarkable circle of friends. At age 60, Dick retired early to ski in Mammoth, play tennis, travel, and enjoy daily life with his beloved Johann.
The original house burned in the 1993 Laguna Beach fire and they rebuilt a beautiful art-filled house in its place, created in anticipation of many years of happy life together that came to be there. Motivated by that same fire, Dick led an effort serving on the Emerald Bay Community Board to better prepare the community for future fires by creating wider fire breaks and community response plans. Amazingly, a week before his death, in the February 2022 Emerald Fire, which was in many ways a repeat of the 1990s fire, was this time not able penetrate the community. Dick’s efforts may have preserved not only their own house but also those of his neighbors.
May God Bless Dick Jonas and that infectious smile and Belly-full laugh will forever remain in our hearts forever….we love you Johann!