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Randall Philip Kane

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Randall Philip Kane, born October 12, 1923 in Morgan Park, MI passed away in Corralitos, CA from congestive heart failure. He was a philanthropist, iconoclast, bon vivant, benevolent soul, scholar, teacher and patron of the arts. From skewed beret to heavy-rimmed glasses, Irish wool sweater and gold-glinted smile, Randall was by any definition a classic. A Santa Cruz fixture, he could be seen churning through traffic on his bicycle in his trademark rainbow suspenders.

Randall grew up in Lakewood, Ohio. On Dec 8, 1941 Kane joined the army, spending five years in the Pacific Theatre. Here he developed his strong political views and abhorrence of military force. Randall earned his B.A. in English from Ohio State University, solidifying a deep and abiding love for literature and etymology.

While living in New York, Randall met Caryl Underwood James d. 1996. They married in 1953, and moved to California in 1954. Randall worked in journalism and served as Dean of the San Francisco Art Institute. In 1968, the Kanes settled in the forested hills above Corralitos. A lover of nature, Kane began a tree-planting crusade that has grown into a veritable jungle -‚¬" no trimming allowed.

In 1969, Randall purchased The Catalyst in Santa Cruz, realizing his dream of running a bar. Kane moved The Catalyst to its Pacific Avenue location in 1976, creating a unique garden atrium full of plants and artwork. The Catalyst or "The Joint" as Kane called it became one of the West Coast's premier music venues, hosting acts from Sista' Monica to Tom Petty. One thing most people don't know about Randall Kane, who brought so much great music to Santa Cruz: he preferred silence. Randall was a talented cook who could feed an army. He baked all of the bread for The Catalyst, even the hamburger buns. Sunday morning breakfasts were his specialty.

Legendary for his encyclopedic knowledge and sardonic wit, Randall held court at The Catalyst bar. Kane was an intellectual Jack-of-all-trades, equally comfortable deliberating over the daily news or jousting rhetorically with all comers. A working-class man, Randall held those who work with their hands in highest esteem: artists and artisans alike. Kane's own workplace was run like a family, his love and concern for "the troops" reciprocated as love and respect for the "Boss". An enigmatic personality, he was once described as the most loved and reviled man in Santa Cruz. Randall was an easy mark for starving artists, buying art both funky and accomplished as it caught his eye. Randall was tolerant of all but ignorance, and was a patriot of the highest order. His was a strong voice against the Vietnam War and all wars since. Obama's victory brought him great joy.

As Randall's eyesight failed, he could no longer read his beloved books, and it became difficult for him to run The Catalyst. He sold the business in 2003, keeping an office in downtown Santa Cruz. He loved to hang out in town, reading the paper and visiting with friends. Randall's health took a major downturn in early July. His last days were spent with family and friends. At dawn on July 27, 2009, Randall drew his last breath. He leaves 3 siblings: Betty, Russell and Cherry preceded in death by Gordon and Lois. Six children: Randall Jr, Brian, April, Jonathon, Rebecca and Benjamin, nine grandchildren, five great grandchildren, and many relatives, friends and admirers.

Thanks for all the good times, Last Call!


Published in Santa Cruz Sentinel on Aug. 16, 2009
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