Former Daily Pilot columnist and editor remembers family as pioneers



The first thing readers should know about Vida Dean is that she’s been to more parties than most people.

“People always tell me about things they would do for their parents,” daughter Victoria Hernandez said. “They would take their parents to nice dinners or things like that. But I could never take my parents to all the beautiful parties they went to. They opened it all in the 1980s. It was a great time to be a social writer.

Dean, 95, was at the time the editor of the Daily Pilot’s corporate section and a common fixture on the Orange County social scene.

She’s spoken to actors and musicians, and her three children – Victoria, Major and David – are still reluctant to think about the celebrities she has known. Dean retired from the press in the early 1990s, but continued to write in his free time for a community newspaper until his death in a hospice at his Newport Beach home on December 3.

She joked until the end, Hernandez said.

“Even in a hospice lying there, she was like, ‘Is that how to die? Am I already dead? ‘ and my brother was like, ‘No, you’re in Newport Beach.’ It was a weird time, but it was so sad, ”Hernandez said. “She’s had an incredible life. She and my dad were from such small towns in Texas. Thank goodness they got out of there and they traveled all over the place. It was very cool.”

Vida Dean in an undated photo. Dean died at the age of 95 at his Newport Beach home on December 3, 2021.

(Courtesy of Victoria Hernandez)

Dean was born in Onalaska, Texas on September 10, 1926. She was one of three children and her family had enough money to enroll her two brothers in college, but not for her. So she decided to go to school and headed to Missouri at age 19.

“She had never been out of town before, but got on a train and went to school,” said David Dean.

She would eventually marry her husband, Jim, and the two would move to Ohio, where Jim worked for the Lima News. They would eventually return to Houston, where Jim worked on the Houston Chronicle, according to David. Dean worked in both newspapers.

Eventually the family moved further west to Santa Ana in the early 1960s, where Jim got a job with the Orange County Registry. The Women’s Department had an opening to cover social events across the county and Dean took it.

She worked there until 1981 when she arrived at The Daily Pilot and was editor and beauty columnist, writing at a time when most women were not allowed to do so, said David Dean. .

“She had so many memories. I remember asking him once. “You’re a baby of the 20’s and you’ve seen world wars, but what’s the most amazing thing you’ve seen? “She said the most amazing thing she saw was communication,” said Major James Dean, Jr.

“She said, ‘Today someone is sneezing in Thailand and you hear about it five minutes later.’ Communication is just amazing these days, ”said Major Dean. “Before you heard something after all, not like now. Also, since she worked in the newspaper industry, communication was a big problem for her.

Vida Dean in an undated 2016 photo. Dean passed away at her Newport Beach home on December 3, 2021.

Vida Dean in an undated 2016 photo. Dean passed away at her Newport Beach home on December 3, 2021.

(Courtesy of Victoria Hernandez)

The siblings have said they plan to bring Dean’s ashes back to her hometown in Texas, where they say she always wanted to return, to be buried in a family plot.

Her three children remember her fondly.

She liked the color orange. She never really lost her southern accent and loved to joke about how people could tell she had one. She had a dry sense of humor and was an excellent Southern cook, but David Dean said he remembers trying to remake the foods she ate at parties at home.

“She would never quite do it. When I was younger I was like, “Oh my God, what have you done? “I didn’t really want to be a guinea pig, but she would do her best,” David Dean said with a laugh.

She had an incredible sense of smell. She was chatty and liked to ask questions. Hernandez said she remembers when her mother had a facelift and purposely documented it in her beauty column titled “Looking Good.” Major Dean said he remembers how his mother cried when he was drafted into service in the Vietnam War.

When he returned, she joked if he had been fed at all – “You’ve got skin on your bones!” – because he had lost so much weight while serving.

Major Dean said he loved his Chocolate Pecan Pie. She was never the type of person to really get into the arts and crafts. His life, he said, revolved around the news and running over deadlines wherever possible.

“That’s why I told my siblings, she’s up there in Heaven right now with our father,” who passed away in 1998, “and they’re working on” Heavenly News. ” My dad is probably saying, ‘We have to get this paper out. There are new arrivals every day, ”said Major Dean.

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