Don Villeneuve died on Oct. 15 at the age of 84. With the help of his wife of 65 years, Marylyn Villeneuve, he had fiercely battled Alzheimer’s disease since his diagnosis in December 2005.
He was elected to the Cambria Community Services District Board of Directors in 1996 and served 11 years during tumultuous times. While on the board, he worked toward preserving what was then known as East West Ranch, developing the district’s water master plan and installing new water tanks on Pine Knolls.
A former deputy mayor of Ventura and city councilman there, Villeneuve was a college professor for 30 years. The man with twinkling eyes and a wry sense of humor also served on the Regional Water Quality Control Board and the California Coastal Commission.
He had degrees in zoology and anthropology.
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The Villeneuves moved to Cambria in January 1994, into a home they’d built a decade earlier. He then worked to save steelhead trout in North Coast streams and throughout the state. He was an avid bicyclist, sports-car owner, fisherman, softball player and traveler. In fact, Villeneuve was avid about life in general.
But he was perhaps best known for his single-minded determination to prevent development on what is now the 430-acre, community-owned Fiscalini Ranch Preserve, working with Friends of the Ranchland, a group that he later led as president of the board.
He also helped to create the ranchland’s management plan.