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In Memoriam – Pete Hischier & Bob DeLeon

In Memoriam
By Chris Murphy

How many times have you been asked if you actually know someone that got COVID, or worse yet, did you know someone who died? This has happened more than we would like to remember There are so many tragic stories and there are deaths that we have not been able to memorialize or celebrate with gatherings of family and friends. Sadly, so many died alone. Our hearts go out to all that lost family or friends to COVID-19 and we invite you to post thought or memory on our Facebook @modestoview to celebrate the lives that make our community special. We have lost a few local legends, from our cruising culture, our music culture and our arts culture. Please check out David Schroeder’s article about Tony Mistlin and the Mistlin Gallery in this issue

Pete Hischier
One of the early Century Toppers (1950), Pete was part of Gene Winfield’s team and worked in his original “chicken coop” shop as well as his shop at 451 Tully. Pete had his own very stylish vehicles including a Mercury that he sold to Gene when he bought a ‘50 Cadillac. Pete was frequently at Gene’s shop and helped Gene work the many car shows where they would compete and win awards with the innovative creations that came from Gene’s Shop. Pete, Gene and Bart Bartoni helped the classic car scene in Modesto during the early 50s and started some of the first car shows in the region. Pete married his sweetheart Shirley in 1961. He had a successful family nursery business where Pete and Shirley worked together for many years. Pete continued to collect, restore, buy and sell cars and was an avid history buff, collecting antique weaponry and even lead tours in various locations in Europe. Pete was one of the original Downtown boys, member of the Century Toppers, Mid-Valley Chevy club and was one of the founding Legends of the Cruise inductees on the Historic Modesto Cruise Route Walk of Fame and served as Grand Marshal of the American Graffiti Festival Cruise Parade in 2019. Pete is survived by his wife Shirley, children James, Pamela and Paul and his grandchildren and great grandchildren. Pete will be missed by so many and will live on in Modesto history. A tribute cruise is being planned for February 13. Details will be posted on Facebook @graffitiusamuseum as available.

Bob DeLeon
Bob DeLeon was one of Modesto rock and roll pioneers. As a founding member of Kent Whitt and the Downbeats, he played keyboards in what was to be Modesto first rock and roll band. Bob used to work in the iconic “Records” store at the corner of 14th and J The Downbeats would play nearly every school and venue in the region and even got a USO tour in the early through Asia in 1964. Bob was later drafted and served honorably in Vietnam. Bob DeLeon became one of Modesto’s legendary KFIV 1360 DJs, broadcasting live from the old studio on East Orangeburg, playing the soundtrack of our lives during the 60s and the 70s. He later joined KTRB and taught radio at high school. He did many on-location shows and his on air voice is still remembered today. He was inducted as a Lifetime Award at the MAMA Awards three different times, as an early Rock and Roll Pioneer, with Kent Whitt and the Downbeats and part of the KFIV Radio Legends. His music helped power our Graffiti cruising years and got us all through the 1970s and he was a member of the Modesto Radio History Museum. He was a well known real estate agent and is survived by his wife Roni, Daughter Rhonelle, and son-in-law Greg, and grandson Garrett. His memory will live on over the airwaves and Modesto history.

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