Robert D. “Ron” Funk
August 18, 1926 ~ May 12, 2017
Robert D. “Ron” Funk passed away peacefully at his home in Santa Barbara, California, on May 12, 2017.
Ron Funk was born on August 18, 1926 in Glendale, California. At the time, his grandfather, Samuel McClure, owned the Glendale News-Press, and his father, Jacob D. “Jake” Funk, was the paper’s general manager. In 1932, Sam McClure sold the News-Press and bought the Santa Monica Outlook; the Funk family moved to Santa Monica in 1936. Ron attended Harvard Military School in the San Fernando Valley, and Taft School in Watertown, CT, where he graduated in 1944. In late 1944, Ron was drafted into the U. S. Navy and became an Electronic Technician’s Mate. In 1946, he volunteered for duty on the USS Mt. McKinley, the flagship for the atomic weapons tests at Bikini Atoll.
After military service, Ron enrolled at Stanford University, earning his journalism degree in 1950. Later that year, he went to work for the United Press news agency in San Francisco the day the Korean War broke out. He subsequently worked for United Press in its Hawaii and Los Angeles bureaus.
In 1952, Ron met Ann Willrich, a recent Stanford graduate. They became engaged over the Christmas holidays, and were married in June 1953. They soon had four children: Jonathan (Jake), Christine, Mason (Mac), and Carl.
In 1956, at his father Jake’s request, Ron left United Press and joined the Outlook (now called the Evening Outlook) as assistant managing editor. Over the next 24 years, he rose to the role of editor, and his staff won 42 awards from the California Newspaper Publishers Association, including Best Editorial (all dailies) in 1973. Ron’s older brother Deane served as general manager and publisher of the newspaper during the same period.
In addition to his role at the Outlook, Ron served as chairman of the California Editors Conference in 1961, chairman of the California Freedom of Information Committee in 1976, and chairman of the Southern California United Press Editors Conference in 1977.
In the late 1970s, Ron experienced several severe asthma attacks. His doctors advised him to leave Southern California’s humid coastal climate for a dry climate with clean air. Ron and Ann chose Genoa, NV, a small hamlet south of Carson City. Upon their arrival, Ron helped manage the Prospector, a local advertising publication partially owned by the Outlook. After the Outlook’s sale in 1983 to the Copley Press, Ron and his brother Deane bought Chalfant Press in Bishop, CA., publisher of the Inyo Register and Mono Herald. The two sold the company in 2002.
In Ron and Ann’s 29 years in Nevada, Ron served on the Genoa Town Advisory Board, as a docent at the Genoa Courthouse Museum, and on the board of the Douglas County Historical Society. He also returned to his lifelong passion for painting. He mounted three solo shows in Carson Valley, and had three of his paintings featured in Nevada Magazine’s Sept/Oct 2002 issue. For her part, Ann created the “Pops in the Park” July 4th concert series, with the Nevada Philharmonic Orchestra performing for free at Genoa’s Mormon Station. Ann also earned a Masters Degree in Fiction Writing from Antioch University. In 2012, she published Lifeblood, a historical novel set in the Carson Valley.
In 2009, Ron and Ann moved to Santa Barbara, California, where they had owned a beach house since the 1980s. They enjoyed living back on the California coast, closer to their children and grandchildren. Ann’s death in February 2015 brought their 61-year marriage to a close. While mourning Ann, Ron stayed connected to life – reading, volunteering, and spending time with family and friends.
A dedicated husband and father, a lover of good conversation and writing, and a man of humor, humility and faith, Ron will be missed by all who knew him. He is survived by his sister Elinor Urstadt, his four children, his son-in-law Jay, daughter-in-law Janine, and seven grandchildren. Ron will be memorialized at 3pm on July 15, 2017, at All Saints by the Sea Episcopal Church in Montecito, CA. All are welcome. Ron’s and Ann’s ashes will be interred in Funks Grove, Illinois. Donations in Ron’s memory can be made to the Santa Cruz Island Foundation (scifoundation.org).