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1931 Johnnie 2024

Johnnie Reese Matranga

January 12, 1931 — March 8, 2024

Sacramento

Johnnie Reese Matranga died March 8, 2024 in Sacramento, California at the age of 93. He was born in Sacramento January 12, 1931 to John G. Matranga and Isabelle Jeanette Reese. 

He was predeceased by his Mother Jeanette Reese and father John G. Matranga and his brother George. 

He is survived by his sister Roselyn “Lynn Matranga, his wife of 72 years Leora Kaufer Matranga, daughter Cyndi Matranga Benzel (David), son Johnnie William “Rocky” Matranga (Heather), Grandchildren: Tarah Benzel Mikacich (Cobe), Tyler Benzel (Katie) , great-granddaughter Caroline Grace Benzel, Mackenzie, Victoria, Ana, Ariana, Madison, Camden, Alexander and Hadley Matranga. 

He graduated from Grant Union High School in 1949. As a Pacer, he sang in the choir, was on the Boxing and varsity football teamswas President of his Freshman Class and the Block G Society. 

In the summer of 1946 and 1947 he worked for the U. S. Forest Service on Blister Rust Control He was stationed in Hilt, California  in 1946  and Butte Meadows near Paradise in 1947. 

Always mechanical, he built a 1934 Ford Hot Rod.  He joined the Asphalt Flyers and participated in drag racing. 

In 1945 he joined the U. S. Naval Reserve and participated in cruises to the Panama Canal and Hilo,  Hawaii..  

After graduation from Grant  in 1949, he enrolled at Grant Technical College. He studied bookkeeping and played football.  He married Leora “Billee” Kaufer in 1951.  They celebrated their 72nd anniversary in December. 

He worked for Standard Motor Parts on Del Paso Blvd. as a parts man and bookkeeper and at Aerojet General in the solid rocket division. He was sent to Dallas, Texas a week after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated . For several years he serviced the trucks for Canteen Service.  He was the Supervisor for the city of Sacramento  Shops that maintained the Police cars and garbage trucks. 

In the 1950s he discovered  water skiing on the Sacramento River. He and his wife joined the Sacramento Water Ski Club and began a longtime participation in tournament water skiing,.  He won many championship[s including 3 National Championships.  In 2009 he was presented with the  American Water Ski Association Award of Distinction.  He was elected to the Western Region Council and was elected Executive Vice president for the Western Region.   He served on the Correct Craft Promotional Team and helped with design and development of the Ski Nautique.  He served on the team for 20  years  and took his boat to tournaments all over the west coast. 

Together with his daughter, Cyndi, who was a student at Sacramento State in the early 1970’s and Dr. William Bynam they started a water ski class on campus. Johnnie ran the program for 9 years. It was very popular and always had a waiting list. Brian and Cindi Dulgar were among a number of students who helped him with the program. The Dulgars now run the program at the Aquatic Center. 

When he retired he devoted his energies to the Grant Union High School Alumni Association.  He served as Association president for 13 years and he continued to serve as a director up to the present and  as Museum Maintenance Man.

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