Obituaries: July 6, 2023
By Mid Valley Times Staff
6:36 am,
July 6, 2023

William VanAtta Allen

William VanAtta Allen, aka Bill, Daddo, Uncle Bill, Uncle Horsehead, Dr. Bill—and occasionally “Swill” (but only served up with a grin by his beloved wife, Sue), crossed over peacefully in his sleep on June 3, 2023 in Visalia. He was 91. Bill was born in Wetmore, Kansas on May 24, 1932—the youngest of three boys born to Harry Benjamin Allen and Rebecca VanAtta Allen. When he was almost two years old, his family moved (for the second time!) to Orosi, California. And there, along with his parents, brothers Jack and Bobby and Grandma Libbie Allen, he stayed. Save for the death of his 14 year old brother Bob of polio in 1938, Little Billy enjoyed what he considered to be an idyllic childhood on an abundant little 40-acre ranch on the banks of Sand Creek. The family lived in the finished basement that they dug, while building the house that became the scene of so many family gatherings and memories as the years went by.

William VanAtta Allen

Bill decided in second grade that he wanted to go to Stanford University, and never wavered from that goal. Throughout school, he excelled in academics, sports and making good friends. He was inspired to go into medicine by the fact that there were a number of doctors in his family, several of whom were women (during the late 1800s—which was quite unusual at the time). As it turned out, he and his brother Jack both became veterinarians. At Orosi High School Bill was in the marching band, went to Boys State, served on Student Council, wrote for the school paper, dabbled in drama and lettered in basketball, track and football. Stanford, in fact, not only accepted him, they offered him a football scholarship. He decided not to play ball for Stanford (in favor of his ambitious academic goals), but became a lifelong Stanford football fan. In later years many motorhome trips, complete with lavish tailgate meals, were taken with friends and family to Stanford Cardinal games. 

Before graduating from High School in 1950, Bill was accepted at Stanford. Lending truth to the adage that life is what happens when you’ve made other plans, he met Sue Jenkins—a Dinuba girl—at a graduation party thrown by his good friend and classmate, Marion Hanada. It was love at first sight! The next day Bill called the admissions department at Stanford to ask if he could postpone coming for a year. To his great relief, they agreed. That gave him a year to get some credits out of the way at COS and solidify the romance with Sue. He went up to Stanford the following year, while she completed her associates degree at Reedley College before transferring to San Jose State—good proximity for weekly dates, since Bill had a car! While at Stanford, Bill maintained excellent grades, while still finding time for engaging in elaborate competitive pranks between his friends in the dorms. Stories of those escapades entertain the family to this very day. Bill and Sue married at the Methodist Church in Dinuba, California on August 22, 1954, right after college graduation. They moved to Davis, where Bill attended Veterinary school and Sue supported them (barely) teaching elementary school. Those were happy, lean years. 

Armed with four years of teaching experience and a degree in veterinary medicine, Sue and Bill moved to Reedley, California in 1958. Sue taught elementary school while Bill and Jack worked together at a little clinic in Orosi. Bill split his time by opening up another little clinic in downtown Reedley. By 1960, they had built Reedley Veterinary Hospital, with an apartment upstairs for them to live with their baby daughter, Ginger Patricia. Sue taught school. Bill developed a thriving practice and earned a reputation as a gifted orthopedic surgeon. Son John Daniel was born in 1963, rounding out the family nicely. 

No story of Bill and Sue’s life together would be complete without weaving in the close bond they shared with Sue’s sister, Ginger and her husband, Jerry Munson. They raised their children together, celebrated holidays and just-for-the-fun-of-it, and played countless rounds of bridge together. Both houses were homes for their combined five kids.

In 1967 the family moved to Visalia, where Bill joined Lee Akins and Dick Barsaleau in practice at Diamond Veterinary Hospital. Bill and Lee continued in partnership and friendship for the rest of their lives—they called themselves brothers, their families called them a fine “Paradox.” Lee preceded Bill in death last summer.

In Visalia, as in Reedley, the Allens were very involved in the Methodist Church. Fellowship, committee work, life-long friendships, teaching, youth group leadership, small groups and choir. Bill, a Boy Scout himself, was a leader for Dan’s YMCA Indian Guides and Boy Scout Troops. He also coached Dan’s baseball teams, from T-Ball through Little League. Bill was a Kiwanis Club member for many years, serving as president in the late 1960s. He delivered a speech as president that he later honed into the only lecture he ever needed while guiding his children through every foray into bad judgment they ever made. The lecture was entitled, “Responsibility—The Key to Freedom”—apt advice for a host of transgressions.

In Visalia, as opposed to Reedley, the Allens were able to take wonderful summer vacations. They traveled by car, camper and motorhome all over the U.S.A., kindling in their children an appreciation for family roadtrips and America’s vast beauty. As empty nesters, Bill and Sue continued to enjoy traveling with dear friends and family.

After retiring, Bill was able to indulge his love of woodworking. He built a shop, where he made many beautiful and useful things, and he invited his friends to come play, too! He and Sue enjoyed wonderful retirement years. In addition to adventures with friends and their mutual love of games, they welcomed and happily provided daycare for grand-nephew, Zack—and later, grandsons Jackson William Allen and Liam Maxwell Barszcz, until they each went to school. 

Bill was preceded in death by his soulmate, Sue (2012); parents Harry & Rebecca Allen; brothers Bob and Jack; sister-in-law Pat Allen; in-laws, Vic & Thelma Jenkins; niece, Robin Jenkins; nephew, Bob Allen; and brother-in-law, Vic Jenkins.

Bill is survived by his daughter, Ginger and grandson, Liam and grand-daughter-in-law, Alora McCrumb Barszcz; son JD Allen, daughter-in-law Sandy Allen and grandson, Jackson Allen; beloved in-laws, Ginger & Jerry Munson (Dinuba); Jerry & Janna Jenkins (Woodbridge, VA); and Carolynn Ranch (Vacaville). Standing watch over his memory is also a large, eccentric band of cherished nieces, nephews, friends—and his dog, Mini.

William VanAtta Allen—Kind. Funny. Wise. Generous. Curious. Can-do.

A celebration of life will be held in air-conditioned splendor on Saturday, Aug. 19 at 11 a.m. at the Ridge Creek Golf Club at 3018 Ridge Creek Dr, Dinuba, CA 93618. A luncheon will follow. He will be interred at Smith Mountain Cemetery in Dinuba. Service arrangements are being handled by Dopkins Funeral Chapel in Dinuba (559) 591-1919.

If a memorial donation in his name is on your mind, the Valley Oak SPCA (9405 W. Goshen Avenue, Visalia, CA 93291) was near and dear to his heart,

Ruben Chavez

Ruben Chavez of Dinuba, died on June 26, 2023. He was 92 years old. Mr. Chavez was a mechanic. A graveside service will be held on Monday, July 10, 2023 at 10 a.m. with interment at Smith Mountain Cemetery. He is survived by his two sons, three daughters, one sister, 21 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Dopkin’s Dinuba Funeral Chapel is in charge of arrangements.

Homero E. Espinosa

Homero E. Espinosa of Parlier, died on June 27, 2023. He was 83 years old. Visitation will on Monday, July 10, 2023 from 5 to 7 p.m. with a Rosary said at 6 p.m. at Wallin’s Parlier Funeral Home. A funeral Mass will take place on Tuesday, July 11, 2023 at 9 a.m. at Our Lady of Sorrows in Parlier. Wallin’s Parlier Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Eileen Gertrude Johnson

Eileen Gertrude Johnson of Dinuba, died on June 15, 2023. She was 91 years old. Mrs. Johnson was a homemaker. A graveside service will be held on Friday, July 7, 2023 at 10 a.m. at Smith Mountain Cemetery. She is survived by her two sons, one daughter, seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. Dopkin’s Reedley Funeral Chapel is in charge of arrangements.

Kenneth John Kovacevich

Kenneth John Kovacevich of Delano, died on June 26, 2023. He was 94 years old. Mr. Kovacevich was a farmer. A Rosary will be said on Monday, July 10, 2023 at 9:30 a.m. with a funeral Mass at 10 a.m. at the new St. Anthony’s Church in Reedley. Interment will be at the Reedley Cemetery. He is survived by his two sons, two daughters, 12 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. Dopkin’s Reedley Funeral Chapel is in charge of arrangements.

Maria Guadalupe Oceguera

Maria Guadalupe Oceguera of Dinuba, died on June 25, 2023. She was 46 years old. Mrs. Oceguera was a cashier. Visitation will be held on Thursday, July 6, 2023 from 10 to 11 a.m. with a funeral service following at Seventh-day Adventist Church in Dinuba. She is survived by her two sons, one daughter, two brothers, three sisters and 17 grandchildren. Dopkin’s Reedley Funeral Chapel is in charge of arrangements.

Frederick Donald Parkinson

Frederick Donald Parkinson of Sanger, died on June 26, 2023. He was 92 years old. A funeral Mass will be held on Friday, July 7, 2023 at 10 a.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Sanger. Wallin’s Sanger Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

John David Rice

John was born in Fresno California, the son of Walter George Rice and Dorothy Fink Rice and passed away at age 86. He spent his youth on his father’s ranch located on the Kings River in Reedley California, where he attended grade school at Riverview Elementary and high school at Reedley High where he made lifelong friends. After a brief stent at Stanford, he returned to Fresno State College, graduating with a degree in Business Administration. Upon graduation he moved to Sacramento and became a lifelong employee of the State of California with various agencies. Early on in his career he became interested in what today we would call Information Technology where the early beginnings of computers were room sized and used vacuum tubes to CPUs. His last position was at CalSTRS, State Teachers Retirement System, where his son, David, now works in the technology field as well.

John David Rice

In 1964 he married a teacher, Joan Rice, and to their joy a son that was born in 1970. John and Joan belonged to several dinner groups and spent many happy hours at each other’s homes. They also attended many speaker series, enjoyed exploring the surrounding communities and like to go fishing. The Rice family traveled to United Kingdom, Europe, Canada and to the Midwest of the United States summerly to visit Joan’s family. John and David shared the pleasures of playing golf and fishing. John coached one of David’s Greenhaven soccer teams which was called the Jedi Knights. They also enjoyed going with a baseball tour group across the country which allowed them to attend several Major League games and historical sites.

John also lent his support to several organizations. From the Neighborhood Association where he lived, to becoming a 10-gallon donation member of the Blood Bank to the Bing Maloney Men’s Golf Club, supporting KVIE to various scholarship organizations. His passions included reading and attended several local historical groups that focused on early British Monarchy and American Civil War history.

He was described by many as a kind and gentle man with a beautiful smile. He is survived by his wife, Joan, of 59 years and their son David.

Services were held on Sunday, June 11 at 2 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church located at 2100 J Street, Sacramento, Calif., with a reception to follow. Come and share your memories of John with friends.

Juan Valle, Jr.

Juan Valle, Jr. of Clovis, died on June 24, 2023. He was 74 years old. A graveside service was held on June 30, 2023 at the Fowler Cemetery District. Wallin’s Fowler Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.

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Mid Valley Times Staff