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The Last Word:

Saluting locals we lost

January 10, 2009

Brooke Baum was daring, smart and very much unafraid of life.

A boyfriend took her skydiving on her 30th birthday, and she liked it so much she kept jumping out of planes. She made many friends doing it and it became the latest in a long string of daring hobbies.

Sadly, a day after Christmas, as the Newport Beach woman celebrated the holidays with her skydiving friends, her parachute failed and she died. She was just 33.

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The only consolation left for her loved ones was that she lived life to its fullest.

The same could be said for Don Callender, the Corona Del Mar man who helped start the Marie Callender restaurant chain.

Arthur Vasquez, who managed one of Callender’s then-new barbecue restaurants in 2001, recounted how he vowed to work as hard as Don.

"I told myself and my wife, I’m not taking a day off until he takes a day off. It took three months," Vasquez said. "It was exhausting."

Unfortunately, Callender died at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian last week, but he left behind quite a legacy of restaurants and his mother’s famous pies.


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