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Cameron Justin "C.J." Mandrake

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Cameron Justin "C.J." Mandrake Obituary
Mandrake, Cameron Justin "C.J."
passed away on the morning of Friday, August 28th, 2015, in Phoenix, AZ. He was surrounded and supported by love. Cameron was born on November 16th, 1961 to Wayne and Delores Thurston of Sparta, Wisconsin. He was the first of six children in a small, rural town. After graduating from Sparta Senior High School in 1980, C.J. enlisted in the United States Air Force (to see the world). He served for nine years at various locations, including Mt. Home AFB, Idaho and R.A.F. Upper Heyford, England. C.J. was an Avionics Test Station and Components Specialist. In 1989, he decided to return to civilian life, received an honorable discharge, and moved back to Wisconsin. C.J. moved to Phoenix in 1991 and pursued work in the computer industry. In 1993, he became Arizona's first Internet technical support representative at Internet Direct. This led to positions at other Internet-related companies, including PrimeNet (later Global Crossing), where he managed a large desktop support department spread across several states. Cameron was on a lifelong spiritual journey and in 2005 he left the IT industry to work at Fantasia Crystals, where he helped spiritual seekers of numerous paths with a warm smile and an open ear for five years. During this time, he took up lapidary and also made prayer/meditation necklaces, such as Hindu malas and Catholic rosaries. C.J. also loved to cook and in 2010 he enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu. He excelled in every subject and graduated in May, 2012. Afterwards, he applied his skills and creative talents in the restaurant business, but illness soon forced him to give up his new career. Despite the extreme nature of the disease, Cameron fought a courageous battle and maintained an incredibly positive attitude. He was an inspiration. C.J. had an extraordinary mind and enormous heart. He touched so many people throughout his life, from all backgrounds and beliefs. His openness and loving kindness built bridges wherever he went. He was a guide, mentor, and counselor to many. C.J. is survived by: his partners, Darin Baker & Chris McCoy of Phoenix, AZ; his parents, Wayne & Delores Thurston of Sparta, WI; his siblings, Ron Thurston, Allen Thurston, Jennine Thurston, Michelle Tucker, and Melissa Moore, all from Sparta, WI. He is also survived by many nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, and innumerable friends. A celebration of life will be held on September 13th, 2015 at the Southside Saloon in Sparta, Wisconsin from 2:00 - 6:00 p.m. Another celebratory remembrance will take place in Phoenix at a later date.

Published in The Arizona Republic on Sept. 9, 2015
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