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Bill Macfadyen: Barry Berkus Lived Life to the Fullest, All by Design

Noozhawk's Top 5 includes a Coast Guard casualty in the border war with Mexico, a landlord lawsuit, a mysterious wreck, bank layoffs, and the positive atmosphere of Goleta Teen of the Year

What were you reading on Noozhawk this past week?

1. Barry Berkus, Santa Barbara Icon and Architect, Dies at 77

Barry Berkus was a world-renowned architect, with 600,000 houses to his name, including the first smart house. The founder and president of B3 Architects and Berkus Design Studio, he created projects that dot the landscapes in Los Angeles, Irvine, San Francisco, Atlanta, Miami, New York, Washington and Tokyo.

Barry Berkus
Barry Berkus

As famous as he was for his cutting-edge design skills elsewhere, here at home he was just as well known for his zest for life, his love of adventure sports, his commitment to cycling, his pickup basketball games with the Los Angeles Lakers, and a generosity that knew few boundaries.

Berkus was the longest-living board member of the UC Santa Barbara Foundation and served on the boards of The Granada Theatre, the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum and the Wildling Art Museum in Los Olivos, among many others. He designed UCSB’s Mosher Alumni House and Hospice of Santa Barbara’s complex on the Riviera, and he helped guide the reconstruction of The Granada.

In a 2009 interview with Noozhawk, he shared one of the secrets to his success.

“Go where life takes you and run hard,” he said. “Passion is what’s going to take you to the other end.”

After an undisclosed illness, Berkus died Nov. 30 at Serenity House. He was 77.

Berkus is survived by his wife, Jo; his two sons and their wives, Rebecca and Jeffrey Berkus of Aspen, Colo., and Dana and Steven Berkus of Santa Barbara; his daughter, Carey Berkus, of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; and grandchildren Sarah, Kelson, Renae and Stuart Berkus. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Gail.

2. Coast Guard Officer Killed When Boat Rammed Near Santa Cruz Island

Sightings of panga boats have been multiplying over the last few months, with the bare-bones Mexican fishing vessels linked to a rising tide of smuggling — from drugs to guns to illegal immigrants. The boats are often found abandoned, their occupants “in the wind.” So when the U.S. Coast Guard received a report of a panga boat suspected of illegal activities at Santa Cruz Island early on the morning of Nov. 30, the cutter Halibut moved swiftly to intercept it.

Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III
Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III

As it neared the panga in Smuggler’s Cove, the Halibut launched a small, more maneuverable boat, with blue lights flashing and two crew members aboard. Rather than surrender, Coast Guard officials say, the panga skipper pointed his boat at the Coast Guardsmen and hit the gas, ramming their craft before fleeing the scene. The two crew members were knocked into the water, and Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III was struck in the head by the panga’s propeller.

Although both crew mates were quickly rescued, Horne was pronounced dead by paramedics after the Halibut rushed him to Port Hueneme, 15 miles away.

A Coast Guard airplane followed the fugitive vessel, which was finally stopped by another Coast Guard cutter about 20 miles north of the Mexico border. Two Mexican nationals — Manuel Beltran-Higuera and Jose Meija-Leyva — were arrested and face charges of killing an officer of the United States while that officer was engaged in his official duties.

Horne, 34, of Redondo Beach, is survived by his wife, Rachel, and their young son. Rachel Horne reportedly is pregnant with the couple’s second child.

3. City of Santa Barbara Serves Landlord Dario Pini with Lawsuit

Months ago, Noozhawk’s Lara Cooper caught wind of a new investigation by the City of Santa Barbara against landlord Dario Pini, who has long had quite a notorious reputation for the condition of his plentiful rental properties. Cooper dug into her assignment and painstakingly followed the paper trail she could find.

The advance work paid off Dec. 5 when she broke the news that the city had filed a lawsuit against Pini, alleging that many of his properties are “public nuisances” that threaten the community’s safety. The violations outlined in the city’s lawsuit are not for those with queasy stomachs; many are quite revolting.

According to the suit, the city is charging Pini $250 a day until the problems are fixed. Should he fail to complete the repairs, the city is asking that the court appoint a receiver to temporarily operate and maintain the properties until he does.

Pini did not respond to Noozhawk’s requests for comment.

4. Two Critically Injured When Speeding Pickup Plunges Over Cliff Near Refugio

A speeding pickup truck plunged off a cliff along Highway 101 near Refugio State Beach the night of Nov. 30. The vehicle landed on its roof near the surf line, and two people — a woman who was believed to be driving and a man, both in their late 20s — were extricated from the wreckage. Both had life-threatening injuries, and authorities say the driver’s left arm was nearly amputated by the crash. The cause of the wreck, and the circumstances, are under investigation by the California Highway Patrol.

5. Employees of Santa Barbara Bank & Trust Receive Layoff Notices

The $1.5 billion sale of Santa Barbara Bank & Trust to Union Bank officially closed Dec. 1, but the final transaction was hardly a joyous occasion in SBB&T Land. On Nov. 29, word began spreading that nearly half the local bank’s workforce would be laid off as the two financial institutions merged operations. A Union Bank spokesman told Noozhawk that the downsizing works out to about 470 jobs shed from a workforce of 1,040.

Meanwhile, four other stories were tightly bunched within a few dozen reads of the Top Five:

» President of Melchiori Construction Target of Criminal Probe

» Bill Macfadyen: Tragic Death at Retirement Home Draws Thousands of Readers

» 10 Hurt in Four-Vehicle Accident on Highway 246 West of Buellton

» Developer Michael Towbes Shows No Sign of Slowing Down

                                                                  •        •        •

For the last several years, I’ve had the honor and privilege of being a judge in the Goleta Teen of the Year competition sponsored by the Rotary Club of Goleta Noontime. In my experience with the 37-year-old program, this year’s class was the strongest to date.

Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen gets his claim to fame in a photo op with 2012 Goleta Teen of the Year Forbes Bainou. (Bainou family photo)
Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen gets his claim to fame in a photo op with 2012 Goleta Teen of the Year Forbes Bainou. (Bainou family photo)

The seven finalists — Forbes Bainou, Zacharias Garza, Mallary McCauley, Nimisha Shinday and Lauren VanValkenburgh from Dos Pueblos High School and Sofia Lochner and Duncan Proctor from San Marcos High School — were exceptional candidates. All of them are top students, campus leaders, tireless volunteers, funny, personable and delightful to interview. In the end, my fellow judges and I scored Forbes as the 2012 Goleta Teen of the Year and Mallary as runner-up.

Among Forbes’ many volunteer activities are the Goleta Union School District’s summer school special education program, Santa Barbara Zoo Camp, the Santa Barbara Kids Triathlon Camp, Nite Moves and his church’s Vacation Bible School. He’s an AYSO soccer referee and plays varsity soccer at DPHS.

Forbes is most passionate about the Junior State of America, a youth service organization that aims to engage teenagers in politics, government, foreign affairs, law and education. He was vice-mayor of the Channel Islands Junior State of America last year and was elected mayor this year. One of his initiatives has been to ensure that students from less-advantaged Southern California high schools have the means and opportunity to participate in JSA regional, state and national conferences.

The son of Mary and Henri Bainou, Forbes is applying to a score of colleges and hopes to become a constitutional law attorney.

Mallary is a leader of Young Life and its Wyld Life junior high group, and is involved in an anti-bullying group, Peer Mediators, at Dos Pueblos. The 4.0 student got her first job when she was 15, then added a second one, and bought her own car at 16. She has a radiant smile and a relentlessly positive personality and cheerfulfulness.

A member of Bethany Congregational Church, Mallary’s dream is to attend Westmont College. Note to Westmont’s admissions department: She is the embodiment of your ideal student. Send her an acceptance letter now!

Congratulations to Forbes, Mallary and their fellow finalists. And congratulations to last year’s Teen of the Year, Shandeep Ahdi.

                                                                  •        •        •

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