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San Marcos Chapel & Vista Chapel

Sky Scene 06


Julian Marvin Mortenson

September 5, 1922 ~ September 26, 2018 (age 96)

Julian “Joe” Mortenson was born September 5, 1922 in Benson MN. His great-grandfather was one of the first settlers in northern Minnesota among the Indians. In his small Scandinavian community, it was not uncommon for people to speak Norwegian, and when Joe started school, he could not speak English.

Joe came to Los Angeles with his parents when he was fifteen years old, in the depths of the Great Depression. He attended Belmont High School in LA. After World War II started, he went to work in the shipyards building ships for the war effort. He started to suffer hearing loss as a result of the noisy conditions down in the ships.

After the war, he went to work as a boilermaker in the Shell Oil refinery, building tanks for oil storage. He suffered a severe compound broken leg in an industrial accident there; after the injury, he transitioned to barber college and went to work in a barber shop.

He met Mabel Bates in 1957; a mutual friend from church invited them to a dinner party featuring TV dinners, which were so popular at the time. Joe and Mabel started dating and married on May 3, 1958. They initially lived in Gardena CA, and their first son Jim was born in June of 1959. The family moved to Hemet CA where Joe had his own barber shop, and their son Richard was born in September 1962. Joe was extremely busy at his shop in those years because of the popularity of flat-top haircuts.

In 1965 the family moved north to Tuolumne CA, where Joe built a new barber shop. A third son, Alan, was born there in 1967. In 1969 they returned to Southern California, moving to Vista in order to help care for Mabel’s uncle Edward and her mother Margaret. With the popularity of long hair in the late Sixties, the barbering business suffered a great turndown, and Joe went to work as a custodian for the Vista Unified School District. The family settled in Vista, where all three boys graduated from high school and Joe retired from his job with the school district.

In his retirement years, Joe was an avid gardener. He spent countless hours in his backyard cultivating fruits and vegetables, and Joe and Mabel’s dinner table never lacked for fresh produce. He outlived a brother and a sister; he is survived by Mabel, his sister Elaine, his three sons, and a granddaughter.

Following the graveside service, a memorial service is scheduled for October 6 at the Kingdom Hall, 860 S. Melrose Drive in Vista.

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