Victims of Montecito mudslides include couples, retirees, children

Laura J. Nelson and Paloma Esquivel, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Weather News

An avid naturalist, Fleurat spent hours hiking, biking and gardening on the couple's property. The tall trees, garden and miniature creek made the home feel like a forest.

He was a devoted member of the Ventura County Koi Society and frequently invited the society over for dinner and a dose of comic relief, said president Mary Oxman. Sometimes, he hired musicians.

Fleurat was known for being generous and silly. He often wore bright colors, goofy sunglasses or a name tag so far askew that people would tilt their heads to read it at meetings, Oxman said. He once pulled up outside a meeting with a truck stacked with plants from his garden, saying, "Help yourself!"

"He liked to do silly, off-the-wall things just to see how people would react," Oxman said.

Fleurat and his partner spent every Thanksgiving in Santa Barbara with their niece Angelique Barajas, 33. The family's kids loved Fleurat because he felt like a kid himself, she said.

"So many people loved him," Angelique Barajas said. "Despite what's happened, we feel kind of at peace knowing how much everyone cares."



Retiring to Montecito had always been their dream.

Jim, 89, worked in labor relations and Alice, 78, was a teacher. After raising their two children in Orange County, the couple retired and moved north in 1995.

They bought a three-bedroom, Spanish-style house on Hot Springs Road and filled it with Alice's artwork. The phrase "Casa de Contenta" -- the house of contentment -- was painted on the outside, their granddaughter Megan Mitchell told NBC News.


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