May you always have fair winds and following seas

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There are a couple of East County people that have left us over the past two weeks, both of which have made a significant impact in our communities in their lifetimes. There passing has left an indelible mark on East County and beyond. Families and friends are mourning as they celebrate the lives of these two individuals.

There are a couple of East County people that have left us over the past two weeks, both of which have made a significant impact in our communities in their lifetimes. There passing has left an indelible mark on East County and beyond. Families and friends are mourning as they celebrate the lives of these two individuals.

Paul Frederick Leader, 80, passed on Aug. 9. He was the president and principal owner of El Cajon Ford since 1980. Something I was told he jumped on when the opportunity came to purchase it. Leader is also remembered as a leader and philanthropist, reaching well beyond the limits of El Cajon. His legacy goes beyond the successful businessman, and those that knew him say that he was a champion for the youth of East County, donating time and money to many local programs and served as the first San Diego County Chairman of the Ford Motor Company’s Salute to Education scholarship program.

Leader was also an avid bass fisherman, (something that I can relate with), and around these parts was called “the Godfather” by local bass fishermen. The San Diego Council of Bass Clubs enshrined one of nine members, Leader in the San Diego Hall of Champions in 2002 as a charter inductee of the San Diego Bass Fishing Hall of Fame. This week marked the 19th year for the El Cajon Ford San Diego Team Open at El Capitan and the San Vicente reservoirs. He not only supported these tournaments financially, but also personally competed in most of them. There is a moving tribute to his love of bass fishing on www. SDFISH.com.

This past Sunday, many gathered to celebrate the life of Leader at the El Cajon Ford dealership. I’ve never met this man, but I do understand that his heart was larger than his contributions to East County. I believe that I would have loved to spend time with him and spend the day on a lake, learning bass fishing from a master. May he have fair winds and following seas, (and some great bass fishing), as he continues his journey.

Someone that I did get a chance to know was Ana Maria Sanchez-Jimenez. Our conversations were brief and we worked on getting the word out on a few events together, but I quickly realized when I met her that this Marine veteran and member and officer for the Lakeside VFW Post was a formidable force within her community. She passed on Aug. 11 at 32-years-old, with a young son, a 12-year-old daughter and an adult adopted son. Her contributions to our country and our local veterans proved that her love of family extended beyond blood ties. As the Lakeside VFW Quartermaster and District 1 Jr. Vice Commander, her reach to fellow veterans, both men and women will not be forgotten by her comrades. Her service to the country and her story of life was so compelling that we wrote about “The Lioness among us.” And that is truly befitting of the strength, courage and compassion that Sanchez demonstrated in everything that she did.

Her families are mourning her loss as I write this and even though our relationship was more on a professional level, I wish I could be there to salute her service to our country and our community. As an amphibious sailor, I worked with Marines for many years and I fathom the meaning of the Semper Fi motto. Sanchez was always faithful in every path that her endeavors led her down. She showed the strength of a Marine, even during the toughest times.

Her young family is in mourning and they have a long way to go through in this healing process. So do her comrades. But in celebrating her life, taking on her courage and sheer determination in life, her legacy will continue in the daily lives of those who knew her best. From one sailor to an outstanding Marine both on and off duty, may you, your family, your comrades and your friends have fair winds and following seas as you mourn the loss of a loved one and celebrate the life of a great person that was a privilege to know under any circumstance.

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