In the final chapter of his series remembering prominent members of the Santa Cruz County community who died in 2022, Wallace Baine spotlights a barber-author, artists, activists, an academic and more.
As the year draws to a close, Lookout Santa Cruz looks back at the prominent people that Santa Cruz County lost during the year in “Remembrance 2022.” Our series began with longtime Watsonville teacher and civil rights activist Mas Hashimoto, former bookseller and community activist Gwen Marcum and master guitar maker Rick Turner. Today, we pay tribute to many other prominent figures in the community who left us in 2022.
To the folk-music world, Mary McCaslin was a respected recording artist whose songs, as a solo act and with her husband and fellow folk singer Jim Ringer, evoked the prairies and mountain ranges of the Old West. To musicians, she was a tireless teacher and innovator in guitar open tunings. But in Santa Cruz, she was a well-known figure in the tight-knit Americana music subculture, a regular performer at benefits to help other musicians, and a familiar voice on local radio as a curious and adventurous programmer. Circumstances took her away from Santa Cruz during the last decade of her life, but friends and fans granted her final wish, to return to Santa Cruz, where she was laid to rest in November at the age of 75.
For more than 40 years, local theater fans have been afforded a meaningful, sometimes even magical, relationship with the plays of William Shakespeare. And the matchmaker between those forces was Audrey Stanley, the puckish British-born director who established Shakespeare Santa Cruz in 1981 and ran the company for its first five years. Even after her retirement, she was an active supporter of the Shakespeare subculture in town, as well as other endeavors in the arts. In recent years, she served as muse, mentor and inspiration for the offshoot company Santa Cruz Shakespeare, which now performs in a picturesque outdoor setting fittingly called the Audrey Stanley Grove at DeLaveaga Park.
The visual artist James Mazzeo achieved a kind of pop culture immortality when he designed the album cover of Neil Young’s 1975 masterpiece “Zuma.” “Mazz,” as he was known, remained tight with Young for many years, and was a key contributor to Young’s album/film project “Greendale.” From his home base in Santa Cruz, Mazz continued to produce one-of-a-kind psychedelic artworks, a reflection of his front-row seat in the emergence of the 1960s Bay Area counterculture. Locals lucky enough to have one or more Mazzeo originals hanging in their homes remember him as a larger-than-life personality and a passionate artist with a unique vision. Neil Young himself said that his old friend “defined what it is to be dedicated to your work.”
With his wife and longtime collaborator, Helen, Newton Harrison was a pioneer in fusing together two separate realms, the creative arts and eco-consciousness, and dedicated his life to blurring the traditional boundaries between art and science. Together, the Harrisons were the founders and leading minds at The Center for the Study of the Force Majeure at UC Santa Cruz, devoted to harnessing the artistic imagination in the service of finding solutions and mitigations to the unfolding climate crisis. The Harrisons’ approach dates back to the early days of the ecology movement, folding in everything from urban planning to biodiversity sensitivity to create art that serves as its own witness to change.
He was well known to regulars in downtown Santa Cruz, particularly those with hair. But Jerome Fardette lived a life beyond the confines of his Surf City Barber Shop at the St. George Hotel. Long-timers might remember him bicycling around town advertising his services as “Jerry the Barber.” But he was also an accomplished writer of fiction, self-publishing a dozen novels under his nom de plume Jerome Arthur, all of them available to peruse at his barbershop. From detective novels to nostalgic stories of days gone past, he was a writer with a wide-ranging imagination, often inspired by his customers, some of whom were notable local literary figures, sharing tips and ideas from the barber’s chair.
He began writing poetry while still a teenager in the 1940s, a path that eventually brought him to the role of poet laureate of Santa Cruz County. Robert Sward dedicated his life to the written word and found an eager audience as a teacher at UC Santa Cruz, Cabrillo College and the Esalen Institute. He spent many years in Canada as a journalist and radio interviewer, relocating with his wife, Gloria, to Santa Cruz in the 1980s. In his realm as a poet, he was best known for his first volume, “Uncle Dog and Other Poems,” which was followed by about a dozen other books. In 2016, he took on the poet laureate position and served for two years, during which he established a memoir and poetry writing workshop for seniors.
For most of his 55-plus years in Santa Cruz, Paul Lee was a whirlwind of activism. A philosopher and religion scholar who earned his Ph.D. from Harvard, Lee came to town as part of the early faculty at UC Santa Cruz and struck up a deep friendship with the university’s founding provost, Page Smith. With Smith and without him, Lee founded or co-founded many of the entities that make up the unique philanthropic profile of Santa Cruz, from the William James Association to the Homeless Garden Project. All the while, as a longtime exile from UCSC, he held court at the Penny University at the Calvary Episcopal Church downtown. At the same time, his Westside home was always open to anyone interested in a dialogue about the philosophy of living a good life.
Liz Lyons Friedman
Longtime fans of the annual Open Studios art tour will undoubtedly recognize the art, and the artistic legacy, of Liz Lyons Friedman. Of the hundreds of artists who have participated in Open Studios since its beginnings in 1986, she was the only one to have been part of it each and every year. In recent years, that was a real accomplishment, given her battle with the cancer that eventually took her life at the age of 73. The longtime Aptos resident was known for her vibrant linoleum prints, familiar from her work featured on the posters of the Capitola Begonia Festival. Her art was often spiced with humor and warmth, and always reflective of the beauty of living in Santa Cruz County.
Diane Porter Cooley
She was a cornerstone of Monterey Bay conservation, having grown up at the Porter family ranch near Elkhorn Slough — and graduating from Watsonville High School — before embarking on a journey to Stanford University, where she earned degrees in economics and political science. Diane Porter Cooley spent most of her 93 years working to preserve the landscapes of her youth with foundational work on behalf of the Elkhorn Slough Foundation, the Pajaro Valley Arts Council and the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County. She directed her considerable energy and plainspoken persuasiveness to helping out a large number of other community organizations, all in the name of carrying on a family legacy going back to California’s statehood.
Watsonville native Laura Segura died in June at 54 after a yearslong battle with cancer, leaving behind a legacy that’s likely to enhance the lives of locals for many years to come. As a lifelong community activist, mostly in the Pajaro Valley, she might be best remembered for her role in leading Monarch Services, a shelter and resource for those trying to escape domestic violence. A former star athlete at Watsonville High and Cabrillo College, Segura was often focused on helping local young people transcend their struggles in many ways, from work in maternal assistance to establishing scholarship. She was also a lover of music and dance, and often brought that positive energy to her activism.
The Darling House on West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz was not called that because it was adorable. It was the namesake home of longtime local civil rights activist and minister Darrell Darling. A veteran of the fabled Selma-to-Montgomery march led by Martin Luther King Jr., Darling and his wife, Karen, operated the Darling House as a bed-and-breakfast for more than 30 years, while he was working for social justice as a member of the NAACP, a board member of the Resource Center for Nonviolence and with a number of other organizations. Those who knew him well say he was always available as a mentor and advisor, and an inspiration to deepen the commitment to peace, justice, nonviolence and democracy.
As a longtime activist in Santa Cruz County on behalf of LGBTQ rights, Gloria Nieto was involved in many political and social justice endeavors, including the Santa Cruz AIDS Project. She was grand marshal of the Pride Parade, was chosen Woman of the Year and was honored with a lifetime achievement award by the Diversity Center of Santa Cruz County. She also served for years on the Democratic National Committee. But to her friends and those who listened to her radio show on KSQD, she was known as “Glo,” a devoted lover of Hawaiian music and especially dahlias, the lovely flowers that became the symbol of her love of life.