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KOWAL, WILMA "BILLI" Wilma "Billi" Kowal was born December 23, 1929 in Sacramento, CA, and passed away September 6, 2012 in San Diego. She lived the first 13 years of her life in Stockton, CA, before her family moved to Ocean Beach. In 1945, Billi entered the Miss Ocean Beach contest with her sister and several friends from her Pt. Loma High School club, the Xzephas, and was crowned the first "Miss Ocean Beach." She then placed second overall against contestants from all of San Diego County for the first annual "Fairest of the Fair" contest. Billi graduated from Pt. Loma High School in 1946 and worked as a dental assistant in Ocean Beach before going to USC to get her diploma as a dental hygienist. She was previously married to Doug Jensen, and then to Jon Kowal, both of Ocean Beach. She relocated to Westwood and worked as a dental hygienist in Beverly Hills for 36 years, where among her clients were many famous movie stars. She was the first dental hygienist in California authorized to administer anesthesia. After retirement, Billi moved to Nashville, TN, with her partner, Jim Fox, where together they built and sold custom homes for 13 years. After Jim's death, Billi returned to San Diego to be with her family. Billi is survived by her sister Monette Kelly, half-sister Beverley Thomas, nieces Chere Thomas and Monette Runalls, great-nieces and great-nephews, and many friends with whom she shared many memories. She was also the niece of the late Senator and Mrs. Fred Kraft, who owned Kraft Drug Store in Ocean Beach. Services to be held at El Camino Memorial Park, Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. with a celebration to follow. Flowers are nice, but if you prefer, the family suggests donations to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Published in The San Diego Union Tribune on Sept. 16, 2012
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