Obituary of John Chase
John last lived in Thousand Oaks CA. with his wife of 72 years, Barbara. Just shy of 94 years old, he passed away peacefully at Kaiser Medical Center in Woodland Hills with his wife and two living children at his side.
John was born in Long Beach, CA at a time that was preceded by the two most tumultuous events of the 20th century: the “Great Depression”, and, “World War II”. Both of these events had a profound effect on his life. He grew up in Los Angeles and Hollywood and raised his family in Van Nuys and Woodland Hills, CA.
John was able to overcome many of life’s difficult challenges to create a good life for himself and his family. He developed many close friendships, including several lifelong from his childhood. He was a pillar of strength for his family, friends, and employees.
John attended Fairfax High School, which was a seminal period for him. Most important, he met Barbara when she was 15 and he was 17. They remained sweethearts until they married after he returned from the war. John also learned photography with a close and ultimately lifelong friend; this knowledge proved fortuitous when he had to seek employment after the war. During this time America was entering World War II, John decided that he wanted to enlist as soon as possible and dreamed of being a pilot.
Soon after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, John applied for and passed a highly competitive exam for the Air Force’s aviation cadet program. After induction into the Army Air Force, he went thru an intense cadet training that included passing several college courses. After further testing, he was classified for pilot training. He then passed the rigorous Army Air Force flight-training program and earned his pilot’s wings in 1944, thus realizing his High School dream.
Lieutenant John Chase was assigned as a co-pilot on a four-engine B-24 Liberator bomber. He and his crew were then assigned to the 376th Bomb Group, 514th Squadron based near Pancrazio, Italy. Their squadron suffered several casualties and John’s crew had a near fatal event over Brenner Pass in Northern Italy when they flew thru turbulence from a fully loaded bomber that had just been blown up by German ground fire. Their B-24 was violently corkscrewed into a nosedive. Fortunately, the pilots were able to level their plane. Though their plane was crippled with one engine disabled and separated from the squadron, they managed to hobble back to their base safely.
When the Army ordered John back to the States for reassignment. He used his 10 days of leave to propose to his High School sweetheart, Barbara. They were married on May 19, 1945. 13 months later their first child, Christopher Lysle, was born.
After returning to civilian life, John lacked the family support needed to go to college. Since he had a family of his own to support, he used his High School photography experience to get a job as a retail sales clerk in a camera store and later moved up to wholesale photographic sales. In 1959, John opened his own retail camera store, Canoga Camera, in Canoga Park, CA. He built and expanded his business into a successful enterprise. In 1967, his son joined the company. In 2001, John sold his interest in the store to his son. Christopher and his wife continued to operate Canoga Camera until he retired in 2014.
In 1948, John and Barbara’s second child, Pamela Wynn, was born. Pamela became seriously ill with encephalitis when she was just 7 months old. Sadly, she suffered brain damage and became permanently developmentally disabled. John and Barbara devoted themselves to giving Pamela the best life possible. John joined, founded and/or led several California and local organization that served and protected developmentally disabled people. As a result of John’s extensive efforts Pamela and many other developmentally disabled people have been able to live a more comfortable and fulfilling life. Pamela passed away in 2010.
In 1959, their third child, Kathleen Ann, was born. Kathleen became the most highly educated of their children earning a BA from Loyola University and a Masters Degree from Pepperdine University. She teaches elementary school in Oak Park, CA.
In addition to managing many responsibilities including those mentioned above, John was immersed in several hobbies. In addition to photography, he was an accomplished craftsman and artist and made beautiful woodcarvings, furniture, home and boat repairs, and a canoe for his grandchildren, among many other projects.
John retained and practiced skills first acquired as a pre-teen in both marksmanship and horsemanship.
He had a private pilot license and flew friends and family on several trips both local and around the Southwest and as far away as Mexico.
John enjoyed traveling and has taken many local, national and international trips.
John was an avid yachtsman. He quickly mastered sailing, without prior experience, and then advanced to a 36-foot, wood hull Grand Banks powerboat, which he partially restored himself. John was an active member and officer of the US Power Squadron where he mastered and taught many of their boating courses including celestial navigation.
To his family and many friends, he was both an extraordinary and considerate man. His wife, two children, four grandchildren (Melissa Moss, Jessica Chase, Kacy and James Grossman), and 2 great-grandchildren (Shira and Leah Moss) will dearly miss John.
John’s wishes are to have his ashes buried next to his daughter, Pamela, in a rose garden at Oakwood Memorial Park Cemetery in Chatsworth.
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