Walter "John" Hockaday II

John Hockaday Walter "John" Hockaday II  (1933-2022)

John Hockaday passed away Saturday morning, February 19, 2022.  Friends and family attended a heartfelt and wonderful memorial service to honor John's life on June 28, 2022 at the Claremont Womens Club.

About John:

John was born in Guthrie, Oklahoma, and came to Pomona, California, with his parents at the young age of 3.  He attended Hamilton Elementary, Fremont Jr. High, and graduated from Pomona High School in Pomona, CA.  He was an athlete, and his PHS football team won the CIF championship in 1953.  After all these years, he was still in touch with many of his school mates.

After high school, he married his first wife, Brunilda, and he started his plastering career as a hod-carrier, worked his way up to plasterer, and later, as a plasterer contractor.  He owned his own company, Tri City Plastering.  He contracted jobs in Denver, San Diego, and areas around Los Angeles.  His wife, Brunie, was also the “office side” of the business.  They had a daughter, Frankie, and three years later Little John was born.  They lived in Ontario until they completed the house on Lytle Creek Road in North Fontana, where they raised a variety of animals which always included several donkeys.  John helped Frankie with a lot of 4-H projects.  He and Little John built a giant box-kite for the Glen Helen Kite Contest, and they won a trophy.  There were many other adventures, as well, things that happen with ranch living.

In addition, John had been a carpenter, rancher, boat builder, gardener, beekeeper, antique collector, avid photographer, researcher, historian, poet, and author.  His other hobbies were joining his friends up in Devore to watch the trains and hanging out with RR Bob and other train fans.  He regularly attended Mule Days in Bishop, the Steam Locomotive Shows in Vista and the Post Card Shows in Glendale and Pasadena.  He also loved planting a garden like his father, Walter John Hockaday I, did.

For the most part, John was self-taught.  He never felt that he had a good understanding of reading and writing, yet his interest in history, especially Route 66 and Cajon Pass, resulted in his writing and illustrating several books in his later life.   He also became an active member in the High Desert Silver Lakes Writing Group.

His second wife, Sandy, helped to blaze the trail for John's writing.  She spent a lot of time researching the Archives and History of San Bernardino; unfortunately, she passed in 1997.  His goal was to finish what Sandy started.  He stayed focused, and got outside help.  It was very challenging for him with computers and such.  It caused him to have a heart attack, but thank God he recovered and got back on track to finish Sandy's book, and went on to write two more books.  He had good mentors such as Cliff  Walker and John Robinson who supported and encouraged him to continue where Sandy left off.

John became a renowned history expert on the Cajon Pass and the Route 66 segment that passes through that area.  Decades of doing research, talking with the old-time residents of the area, and other historians on various aspects of the pass,  resulted in the writing of these two books.  The first one, “The Man Who Built Camp Cajon” and the second, “From Indian Footpath to Modern Highway”.

He referred to himself as “just an old construction worker who likes history”.  He was an accomplished photographer and historical researcher.  His specialty was anything to do with Cajon Pass and Route 66, including the ancient Native American and Old Spanish Trails that ran through that area in the Southern California region. In addition, he participated in the National Park Service's mapping project of the “Old Spanish Trail” and led a number of educational tours along Route 66 through Cajon Pass.  People who also loved this history, really looked up to John, and they called him”King of Cajon Pass”.  They wanted to, and did, learn so much from him.

John wrote articles for various magazines, the San Bernardino Sun Newspaper, Route 66 Magazine, and the local publication in Lytle Creek, called “The Canyon”.  His final publication was in May 2022, with the help of Deanna LaCava, who had helped John for years with all his writing endeavors.  Also, Ron Snow was such an encouragement and  tremendous help with all the technical aspects of publishing his books.  John was self-published under the name of Buckthorn Publishing.  The Buckthorn name came from the native plant, the Buckthorn, which he and Sandy loved so much.

John was a very talented and resourceful person and lived a productive and multi-faceted life and loved his family roots.  He was a wonderful storyteller and knew so much about the Loofbourrow and Hockaday families.  His most recent book, “Just Something I did Once”, is an amazing collection of stories and history.  One can hear his voice and visualize his mannerisms while reading the book and looking at all the old photos included in the book.

John was a fixture in Lytle Creek for decades, often seen dining a Melody's.  He appeared on the national news when successfully saving his home from flames during the Blue Cut Fire in 2016.  He was a wonderful father to, not only his two children, Frankie and John, but also helped raise other children later in his life and often lent a helping hand to others.  He lived with his daughter, Frankie, in Pomona the last few years of his life.  He passed on 2-19-2022 at 88 years of age.

He is survived by his daughter, Frankie Hockaday: sister, Margie Kinnaman and husband, Gordon; first wife, Brunilda Hockaday; and granddaughter, Jesse Fowler; his two step-sons, Steven and Rick Hays: and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.  He was preceeded in death by his father, Walter John Hockaday I, his mother, Eva G. (Loofbourrow) Hockaday, his only son, John Hockaday III, who passed from Cystic Fibrosis at age 17, and his second wife, Sandy Hockaday, at the age of 46.


Please leave your own comments or remembrances below. In a few weeks, we will update information here.   

John Hockaday and the 2016 Blue Cut Fire

A poem John wrote a couple decades ago:

When it came to retiring
Here’s what he had to say:
It’s something you can do more than once
And in a lot of different ways.
But sometimes just thinking about it
Can get you in one hell of a mess.
You might find yourself on a new quest
With a lot more time to get
A lot less done
While racing along with the sun
Some people start each day with nothing to do
And have it half done by noon.
But that wasn’t for Old Slim, I guess
He sometimes didn’t get started ’til noon
But still loved a good quest.
He said, “All you are is what you’ve done,
So, you better stay busy before the sun sinks too low
Or you might end up with nothing to show.”
He lived his life
Not like some of the rest
Right or wrong he did things
The way he felt it was best.
When it comes to Old Slim
A lot more could be said
He didn’t really retire
‘Til his life was all done.
He’d run a hell of a race
With that old setting sun.


I visited with John just about every time I came down to SoCal. Over the last couple of years we connected via phone, almost once a week. John had an incredible wealth of knowledge that we shared so willingly and was always a great help to me and my family of the various house and garden projects we have done over the last 3 decades. I so enjoyed helping him publish his books and working with him and Deanna to get them ready is a good memory I will always have. John's mom, Aunt Eva, was one of my closest and dearest relatives. When she passed, John seemed to fill in that spot for me. I have so much that I could say, but I will stop here. He was a treasure for my kids and me. Rest in peace John.

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Holiday Memories

A few years ago we collected holiday stories from several of our cousins and relatives and gathered them into a 35 page collection. These include stories from the turn of the century (1900) and some as recent as a few years ago. There are stories from our relatives in Iowa, Oklahoma, many from southern California area and up at Hollister. You older ones will enjoy the memories and you younger ones will get a glimpse of family Christmas' past. I hope you enjoy!

Down load the Holiday Memories collection. If you have an iPad you can download it and save it as an iBook. Most of you will probably just print it.


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Interested? Check out the new 2nd edition of our Family Genealogy by Margie (Hockaday) Kinnaman or try our online Family Genealogy. This online data has a security check that prohibits seeing 'living' people but it does show our history and ancestors. Contact Ron for more details.

Gift Idea

First, the new 2nd edition of our Family Genealogy by Margie (Hockaday) Kinnaman. Margie is our family historian and this 520 page hardcover has our family history dating back to the 1600s to present.   It is sold at cost and available here at Lulu, they print and ship in about 10-14 days.

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