Obituary Don E. Petty, Jr. June 25, 2014

June 25, 2014

Don E. Petty, Jr. 


Beloved husband, father, farmer, and pilot Don Petty passed away on June 18, 2014 after a battle with Parkinson’s Disease. He was born on November 1, 1936 in Hollywood, CA to Don E. Petty and Iola Pardee Petty. He lived his early life in Pasadena and Washington DC, before returning to the family ranch in Saticoy after the Second World War. 

Life on the ranch suited him, and he developed a great love for machinery and agriculture. From age 14 on, he was rarely without a car project in the barn. After graduating from Santa Paula High School in 1955 and attending Stanford University for two years, Don volunteered for the U.S. Army. He served in Germany, where he had the opportunity to see Elvis Presley entertain a small group of fellow G.I.s in the barracks, and managed to tour Europe by bicycle. Back in California after completion of his military service, Don was introduced to aviation. He took flying lessons and earned his pilot’s license at Santa Paula Airport, a location that would remain dear to him for the rest of his life. Some of his fondest memories are of working as a charter pilot in Albuquerque while continuing his education. 

Following additional studies at the University of New Mexico, Don went to work in the Aerospace industry in Southern California and Europe for several years. Throughout his life he remained proud to have been a part of the American Space Program and had the honor of visiting Mission Control in Houston during one of the Apollo lunar missions. The early 1970’s marked a return to Saticoy to take the reins of the family lemon ranch and their hillside avocado ranch in Carpinteria. The fourth generation of his family to live and work on this land, Don always expressed great pride and gratitude for the opportunity to do the work he felt he was born to do. Don’s wise advice, ready smile, and gregarious manner was appreciated by all who knew him. Always quick with a handshake, an introduction and a story, Don never met a stranger. He served the community through participation on the Boards of the Santa Barbara County Farm Bureau, Associates Insectary, Fruit Grower’s Laboratory, CMH Benefactors and the Saticoy Lemon Association. An avid pilot and horseman, Don was active with Campo Adolfo of the Rancheros Visitadores, the Quiet Birdmen and the Aviation Country Club. 

Don is survived by his wife Susan Petty; his brother Stephen Petty, his daughter Tanya Edwards and her children Sam and Sophia, his son Chris Sayer and his wife Melissa Sayer and their sons Stephen and Jonathan, his daughter Sonya Gray and her son Philip, and his daughter Patty Ryan and her husband Joe Ryan and their sons Grady and Will.

A memorial service will be held Thursday, July 3, 2014, 10AM, at the Ted Mayr Funeral Home, 3150 Loma Vista Rd, Ventura, followed by a reception at the ranch in Saticoy that was his home for so many wonderful years during his life. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that any donations be directed to the Aviation Museum of Santa Paula, P.O. Box 908 Santa Paula, CA 93061, or; or the Michael J. Fox Foundation at

Arrangements are under the direction of the Ted Mayr Funeral, Ventura. Condolences may be left at

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