Stephen Bruce Jonnum of Three Rivers passed away in his home Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. He was 72.
Steve was born February 19, 1947, to Orlando and Ethel (Anderson) Jonnum in Downey, California, and was raised and educated there. After graduating from Downey High School in 1965, he attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, until being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1969. During the Vietnam War, he served in the Pentagon as a secretary to generals.
Following his 1971 discharge, Stephen returned to Southern California, where he worked and socialized at Dodd’s Bookstore in Long Beach’s Belmont Shore neighborhood. Resuming his studies at California State University, Long Beach, he graduated with a degree in English Literature.
Although jobs were scarce at the time, his education and veteran’s credit helped him to quickly find employment in 1982 as a mail carrier with the U.S. Postal Service. Steve earned several promotions with the USPS, eventually serving as an administrator in the Department of Personnel.
Stephen met Ken Corral in 1981 at age 34 and began what would be a 21-year relationship. The couple owned and shared homes in Long Beach’s Zaferia and California Heights neighborhoods.
A music lover, Steve was an avid and talented guitarist and vocalist as a young man, and he sang in Long Beach’s First Congregational Church choir. He also enjoyed camping and cooking, old movies, opera, theater, and especially gatherings with family and friends.
A politically engaged, voracious reader who appreciated the arts and culture and was proud of his Scandinavian heritage, Stephen could hold intellectual discussions about the classics, Greek and Norse mythology, and current events.
He loved animals and pampered the many pets he owned over the years. He had an eye for fashion and collected secondhand and antique furniture.
After an injury prompted his retirement from the USPS, Stephen earned a teaching credential and taught high school English in the Long Beach Unified School District. In 2013, he moved to Three Rivers, California, where he continued substitute teaching in area districts and eventually purchased a home.
He became active in the Arts Alliance of Three Rivers, serving as president for a period, and was a proud member of The Source, a Visalia LGBT+ center. He also was a member of St. Clair’s Catholic Church in Three Rivers.
Stephen will be remembered for his cultural aesthetic, his sensitivity, his candor, and his wicked sense of humor. He will be missed by his family, friends, and pets.
Stephen is survived by his beloved Golden Retriever Rupert; his three cats; his brother, Jerry; sister Gail; and his siblings’ spouses and offspring.
A service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Stephen’s honor to Valley Oak SPCA.
Remembrances may be sent here.
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