LEFAVOR, Willis

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Willis Lefavor in Portland, Maine, 1899
Mountain View Cemetery, San Bernardino, CA
Anna Maria Lefavor was murdered on July 30, 1947
in their curio shop in San Bernardino.

LEFAVOR, Willis Mitchell (1878-1973)[SS#551-07-3821], born in Maine April 5, 1878, he completed the 8th grade. By the 1910 census (age 32) he had became a merchant, newspaper editor, printer, realtor and successful businessman at Avalon, Santa Catalina Island. He was also a member of the Santa Catalina Island Twenty-Five Year Club.

According to his World War I Draft Registration card, he was 5 ft. 7-¾ inches tall with brown hair and gray-green eyes.

Mr. Lefavor, businessman turned newspaper editor, was one of the major players in Avalon’s economic status. Any acts of the “Island Company” to restrict trade was not taken well by him and was clearly shown through his newspaper. His “Wireless” newspaper came out—the world’s first newspaper where its news was provided primarily over the new “wireless” device. It was first published on March 25, 1903 and after a number of temporary starts and stops, became a “regular weekly newspaper” in 1905. The “wireless station” was on the flat area, just down from the “Zane Grey,” overlooking the “Casino,” and published at the “Pitman-Dennis Bldg.,” on the corner where “Leo’s Drug Store” now presides. It was conveniently near Mr. Lefavor’s other business interests. Lefavor also had a “Department Store,” a “Novelty Shop,” a “Confectionery Shop,” and even a “Real Estate” office.

After the Company's embarrassment of losing to the “Freeholders” their Pier and “closed harbor” status, the “Island Company” certainly didn’t need Avalon’s only newspaper to constantly print opposing views. They asked Ernest Windle, an Englishman, to come to Avalon and start a paper to reflect the news more from the “Island Company’s” perspective and hopefully run the “Wireless” out of business.

Willis M. Lefavor (at age 23) = [c. 1901] Anna Maria Lefavor (born in Germany; immigrated in 1884; murdered July 30, 1947)

The couple had no children.
  • The couple was living in Avalon in 1910 (census) on Metropole Avenue in the Hotel Hermansen.
  • The couple was still living in Avalon in 1920 (census) on Sumner Avenue.
  • The couple was still living in Avalon in 1930 (census) in a house they owned on Metropole Ave.
  • In the 1940 census, Anna Lefavor is listed as an Avalon resident. Willis Lefavor is listed as a printer (married) living in San Bernardino, CA.
  • In 1942 Willis Lefavor's WWII draft registration card lists his resident as Arrowhead Springs, California.
  • Anna Lefavor was murdered in their curio store in San Bernardino on July 30, 1947.

In the early years of the Lefavors' Avalon residency, Willis' brother Walter Lefavor lived in Avalon and worked together with his brother on the Wireless Newspaper.

Willis M. Lefavor died at age 94 in January 1973. He is buried in Fred Hunter's Hollywood Memorial Garden, Hollywood, Florida.



In the News~

March 17, 1926 [TIAvalon]: “W. M. LaFavor is fixing up his hillside cottage between Metropole and Sumner avenues, which he and Mrs. LaFavor will occupy as a home place.”


June 15, 1927 [TI/Avalon]: “Baby Show! Costume Ball! Prize Dance! Sugar Loaf Casino Auspices Catalina Boosters. Benefit Catalina Cubs Baseball Club. On Thursday, June 23rd, will be held the first Baby Show Catalina has ever had. Catalina has been telling the world for years what awonderful place it was for babies, and now the Catalina Boosters are out to prove it, by giving the Mothers a chance to sow off their babies, and now the Catalina Boosters are out to prove it, by giving mothers a chance to show off their babies and help prove to the world we have perfect youngsters, bith boys and girls. The baby show will be from 6 to 8 p.m....Mrs. Lefavor requests that all babies be entered as soon as possible, so that they may be classed as to ages, both in the boys and girls classes. She can be reached all day at the Lefavor's store, between the hours f eleven to two, which will be her headquarters for the mothers' convenience.”


April 8, 1937 [TI/Avalon]: “Through the kindness of Mrs. W. M. Lefavor the Catalina Island office has received a copy of the Advertiser-Review of Watts, containing information concerning the death of Walter Lefavor [March 31, 1937], twenty or more years ago an Avalon resident. He died at his residence in Watts on Wednesday, March 31, following a sudden attack of illness occurring at his shop on Grandee avenue at 102nd street in that city. Funeral services were held Friday afternoon at Lince Chapel, Rev. Mitchell of the Presbyterian church officiating, followed by cremation at Inglewood Cemetery. When a resident of Avalon Walter Lefavor was for a time associated with his brother, Willis M., in the publication of The Wireless, a weekly newspaper. Later he became a resident of Watts where he opened a job printing office and later published the Watts Advertiser. This was later merged with the Watts Review, and is now published as The Advertiser-Review. He was proprietor of the Lefavor Printing Co. at the time of his death. Walter Lefavor was a Mason, and was prominent in Chamber of Commerce and Kiwanis work. He is survived by his wife, Augusta, by a daughter, Mrs. Ruth Sutton of South Gate, and three brothers, Willis A., (with whom he was associated in Avalon), and who was also connected with the Watts office; Geo. E. of Portland, Maine, and Henry T., of Boston, Mass. While a resident of Avalon Walter Lefavor made many friends, all of whom will be sorry to learn of his decease, and will sympathize with his bereaved relatives.”


August 1, 1947 [San Bernardo Sun]: “Police anxious to locate boy refused entry. Bloodstained claw hammer found in death weapon hunt. Spurred by categorical demands from Mayor James E. Cunningham that the slayer of Mrs. Anna Maria Lefavor be found, San Bernardino police were yesterday hunting clues that might lead to the wanted party's identification. Chief of Police Dan G. Murdock last night repeated the request that he wanted to talk to a small boy, presumably a 10-year-old, who attempted unsuccessfully to enter the Fun Shop at 381 F. street at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday. The boy was seen by Mrs. Irene Temple to open the door part way and then leave. See Alive at noon. Mrs. Lefavor's body was found at 2:50 p.m. Deputy Coroner P. H. Evans estimated the shop proprietor had been killed between 1:20 and 1:50 p.m. The last person known to have seen Mrs. Lefavor alive is Mrs. Paul Gorian, 1442 Crescent avenue, who entered the Fun Shop between 11:30 a.m. and 12 noon accompanied by her two children, 8 and 10 years old. Mrs. Gorian saw a man at the rear of the store reading a book. He was in his shirt sleeves. Other than that he was white, the shopper recalled nothing in the way of description. Chief Murdock yesterday talked with Willis Lefavor, husband of the victim, to see if he could furnish any leads helpful to the officers. Lefavor explained the store operation to Capt. Lee Robb of the detective bureau and established that the slayer had taken approximately $60 from the cash register. A reserve currency supply in the rear room was found undisturbed. Officers checking over physical evidence were inclined to believe that Mrs. Lefavor had been accosted at the front of the store and attempted to flee and close the rear door. Evidence of a scuffle was found at the doorway separating the store and rear apartment. Had she been able to close the door it is probable help could have been summoned. As it was the fatal attack took place in the rear apartment...”


August 7, 1947 [TI/Avalon]: “Mrs. Anna M. Lefavor brutally murdered in store in San Bernardino. Many Avalonites were deeply shocked and grieved to learn of the brutal murder of Mrs. Anna Lefavor, aged 67, at her curio store in San Bernardino, Wednesday, July 30. According to the San Bernardino police department, persons yet unknown, apparently entered the store for the purpose of burglary, and because she resisted the thieves, the elderly woman was brutally bludgeoned. Dr. C. S. Small, county autopsy surgeon, state that Mrs. Lefavor had been dead about two hours before the body was discovered. The autopsy revealed that she had 17 gashes on the head, a broken nose, eight broken ribs and severe bruises on both arms. Mrs. Lefavor is survived by her husband Willis M. Lefavor, who, at the time of the incident was employed as a printer at the Arrowhead Springs Hotel. According to Chief of Police Dan Murdock, Mrs. Lefavor had been severely beaten with a bunt instrument, her death being attributed to brain concussion. The sash register in the store had been emptied and it was estimated $67.00 had been taken. Mr. Lefavor spent last Thursday with the San Bernardino police department going over every detail with the hope of finding some clue that would lead to the apprehension of those who had committed the crime. Police reports indicate that during the past few weeks Mrs. Lefavor had reported small thefts of merchandise from the store stock, the work of boys who visited the store at 381 F. t., San Bernardino. In a telephone conversation Tuesday, Chief of Police Murdock stated that the department had two suspects under surveillance, persons known to have been in the store during the day of the tragedy. At the inquest held Aug. 4, the jury brought in a verdict that Mrs. Lefavor had been murdered on July 30 by parties unknown. Until a complete investigation has been made the police stated that the body will remain at the Kremer mortuary, San Bernardino. Funeral arrangements will be announced later. For more than thirty years during the time of her residence in Avalon, Mrs. Lefavor was an active social worker and member of the St. Catherine Church. In addition to the San Bernardino store, Mrs. Lefavor also had a home at 211 Clarissa avenue [Avalon].”