Grover Beach dog attack victim would be ‘proud’ of memorial bench, partner says

An undated photo of David Fear, left, and nephew Corey Smaw at Fear’s home in Grover Beach.
An undated photo of David Fear, left, and nephew Corey Smaw at Fear’s home in Grover Beach.

A dry eye was hard to find in the Grover Beach City Council chambers Monday night, as resident Terry Lopez struggled with tears as she asked the council to allow a bench honoring her late partner of 25 years, David Fear, who was fatally mauled by dogs in December.

“We said when we moved there we were going to die there,” she said. “Not this early, but it happened. So first of all, I would like to thank the Men’s Club for such a beautiful bench that they made in my husband’s honor. It means so much to me, and it will mean so much to all his family, his kids, when they come down. It’s just across the street from where we live, so we will see it every day.”

On Monday, the City Council unanimously approved installation of the bench and sign on public property at the end of Nacimiento Avenue near Meadow Creek Open Space — just a few feet from where Fear, 64, was fatally injured and his 85-year-old neighbor severely hurt when they were attacked by dogs Dec. 13.

“I think the family, the neighborhood, the community, can take great comfort in knowing that he was a quality individual who obviously sacrificed that day,” Mayor John Shoals said. “I can’t think of something better for us to do to honor him than to move forward with this.”

The 5-Cities Men’s Club will build and install the bench, a concrete surfboard-shaped seat on steel supports painted to look like bamboo. An accompanying sign would be inscribed: “Our Hero, Salty Dog, Dave Fear” — a nod to Fear’s nickname, “Salty Dog,” and his love of surfing.

On Monday, Lopez tearfully thanked the community for its support and promised to help maintain the bench near her home.

“I’d just like thank everybody for helping us and being on our side, and I miss him too very much,” she said. “I think that right now he is so proud to see that the community would do this for him, something like this, because he’s always helped anybody and everybody.”

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie