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There when you ned them Richard Peña | Sat, Mar 03 2012 12:00 PM

Any regular reader of this space knows about the Bonita  Kiwanis club and their contribution to the community. I have written of it many times principally because I have been a member for many years and because of their dedication to being a true service club.

I joined the club in 1980. It was a busy, community-oriented organization involved in many projects. A principal project, at that time, was a union with the Ella B. Allen Elementary School here in Bonita. The entire playground area was having a makeover, sod taking the place of decomposed granite, and some outbuildings added.

The Kiwanis Club spent many Saturdays at the school, doing those things beyond the reach of school personnel and, as a result, saving the district money.

The Naval Academy Class of ’63 is a somewhat different unit. They are simply a group of Navy officers, long graduated and long retired from active duty who have opted to settle down in our area.

Vern Von Sydow, a Bonita resident is one these.  He tells me that there are about a dozen or so members of the class located locally.

Though they keep in touch they get together mostly at social functions, to cheer at the Army-Navy game and other special occasions.  Like the one that just recently came up.

Last November the group went to Mexico on a social outing. One of the items on their calendar was riding a cable down hill to a landing area. Everything was going right until Jay Hogan got his turn. Something went wrong with the apparatus so instead of setting down on the landing area he slammed into a wooden platform area with such force that it badly broke his leg. Hogan received medical care in Mexico, the setting and immobilizing his leg, and he was airlifted to San Diego.

Unfortunately, while the leg was being reset Hogan suffered a serious stroke that has left him in very serious condition.

I have known Hogan and his wife, Maureen, for many years.  He is a retired U.S. Navy captain who had many commands in his career.  The most recent, before his retirement, was command of the USS Jason, a large repair vessel that had a very positive reputation in the Pacific Fleet. Back in 1985 Hogan and family bought and settled into a five acre ranch in the Proctor Valley area where they raised and boarded horses.

And it is at the ranch where the work parties set in. Needless to say the place had suffered much neglect. For three consecutive days Kiwanis members and the class of ’63 worked. They tore down and replaced fences. They painted and repaired much of them.

They dug holes for fence posts. They planted and weeded. They dug trenches for new piping in an irrigation system. Von Sydow says that the average age of the worker was 70-plus. Pretty good, we might add.

Von Sydow, by the way, is both a Kiwanian and a member of Naval Academy class of ’63, a retired navy captain.  He gives much credit to donors who built raised a budget of $3,000 and also to Home Depot on H Street who were most cooperative. Also to Republic Waste who furnished a conveyance for removing debris.

He also gives much credit to Peter Matz, the Kiwanis president, and to club members. He wishes to remind all that the club is taking in new members.  All one has to do is come to the Bonita Golf Club at seven on Thursday morning and have breakfast with the group. It would be worth your time.

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