Gus Killion left us far too soon following a brief yet brave battle with cancer. His life began where it ended; on the beautiful Mendocino Coast, the place in this world he loved the most. Born in Fort Bragg on April 10, 1952 to Buck and Maureen Killion, Gus's early childhood was spent in Mendocino with his older brother Stephen and younger sister Kerry (Katsy). When his father became a patrolman with the CHP, the family relocated first to Pasadena and later to Sacramento. It was there that Gus grew to realize he wanted to be near the ocean and upon turning 18, hitchhiked back to the place where he would spend the remainder of his life: the Mendocino Coast.
Gus lead a free-spirited lifestyle for a few years before he met the one true love of his life, Becca Bettes in Westport on a warm summer afternoon in 1975. From that day forward, their relationship blossomed and Becca relocated from the Bay Area to live with him. They were married in September 1976 on the hillside behind Westport. Their first son Joshua arrived in December 1978, followed two years later by Jessamyn and two years thereafter by Ryan. Gus supported his family by working at the GP Mill by night and by day he worked alongside his father building the house Gus's family would eventually create countless memories in. Gus was a meticulous carpenter and took great pride in his home, spending hours on a ladder oiling the redwood siding and engaging in an annual battle every Spring with migrant swallows that swarmed the house with hopes of nesting (the birds rarely won).
Always the first to rise, breakfast, to-do lists and the dinner menu were made before anyone was awake. Fortunately, despite his workaholic nature, Gus experienced much joy in his 67 years. Early on he was an avid hunter and diver and always had a great love of photography and gardening. He became a Master Gardener and for many months of the year could be found in his vegetable garden, tending to his plants and picking strawberries with his grandchildren, hoping to instill in them an interest in his favorite hobby. Breaks from the garden were spent rock fishing in front of Westport, seashell hunting with his grandkids or tinkering around his shop. Gus's heart was happiest when preparing food for others, spending most of his time in the kitchen during family gatherings only leaving to pass around a plate of appetizers or to announce that it was "Time to Eat!!".
Throughout the past twenty years, Gus and Becca were lucky enough to experience many wonderful things together. They traveled, making a few unforgettable trips to Europe. During one of their treks to Alaska, Gus captured amazing photographs of the Northern Lights defining one in particular as the "best photograph he'd ever taken". Gus and Becca enjoyed visiting National Parks, their favorite being Yosemite, which held special meaning as one of their honeymoon stops. Gus and Becca also made a happy habit of going to concerts, getting to see some amazing performances including Elton John, U2 and Dave Matthews Band.
A huge sports fanatic, Gus took great pride in his grandchildren's on-field efforts and it was rare to not see him and Becca cheering them on from the bleachers. He'd spend many hours in the front yard, tossing whiffle balls to his grandsons (always making good on the "money ball" hits) and on the court teaching kids how to do layups alongside his son Ryan. Gus happily dedicated thousands of hours to over the span of four decades to Fort Bragg Little League. He first coached his sons and then his grandsons in addition to hundreds of other young baseballers in the community. May "Rock and Fire" echo in our hearts and across the ballfields of Fort Bragg for years to come. Cutely enough, the last sporting event Gus attended was his granddaughter's toddler tumbling class to which he brought his camera and rooted her on like as if he were at one of his grandsons' ballgames. When not watching his grandchildren's events, Gus could be found watching his Giants play as he was a lifelong, hardcore fan.
Gus will be keeping loving watch over his family left behind: Becca, Josh and Ryan (Heidi Mabery) Killion; Jessamyn Powers (Jason); sweet grandchildren Cole, Cooper, Carter, Grady, and Tamsin; sister Katsy Merritt (Steve); and dozens of extended family members. He joins his father and mother Buck and Maureen, brother Stephen, and Stephen's wife Joanne where, according to his granddaughter, they're "relaxin' on the moon".
Published in Fort Bragg Advocate-News on Mar. 5, 2020.