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Jon R. Gathercole

Bright Star Co-Founder

July 11, 1948 - March 1, 2019


Jon was born in Ryan, Oklahoma. At age 17 he moved to San Francisco and quickly became part of the 60’s counter culture movement.  While in San Francisco Jon was active in the Matachin Society and SIR (Society for Individual Rights).  He worked for AAA for 13 years and during the summers ran their Yosemite Park office. 


In 1978 he met the love of his life, Claude Raffin, moved to San Jose and found his true calling as a REALTOR. They later moved to Santa Barbara and opened Spectrum Realty in 1984, eventually opening a second office in San Diego.


After meeting Claude, he discovered France and fell in love with the country, its people and cheeses.  He became “almost French” visiting France annually. He was adopted by Claude’s French family and became their nephew, brother, cousin as well as uncle.


For over 25 years Jon was a top producing real estate agent, selling and developing properties throughout Southern California, Hawaii, Nevada, Wyoming and Texas.  He developed lifelong friendships, including multiple generations of families who called him to solve their real estate needs. He was also very involved with the Santa Barbara Board of REALTORS and served as a director for several years.


Jon was a self-taught multi-talented renaissance man: he could flawlessly transition from remodeling or building a new house to sewing one of his many costumes or ball gowns.  He loved to paint and one of his paintings was selected by Jacqueline Kennedy to represent the State of Wyoming at an exhibition in Washington DC. 

In 2003, Jon and Claude retired from real estate and spent the next 16 years traveling the world. They visited all seven continents, including Antarctica and took a memorable world cruise for 117 days in 2008.  In January 2019 they sailed their 101st cruise.


Jon’s passions were entertaining, collecting vintage cars, visiting his global network of friends and giving back to LBGTQI organizations. Jon had the ability to walk into a room full of strangers and leave with at least 20 new friends. He also took great joy in locating a bargain even if it meant driving all over to find it. Jon’s cancer did not stop him from cracking jokes and telling stories right up until the end.

In the early days of the AIDS crisis, Jon joined AIDS Cap Santa Barbara, a group of volunteers to help those dying of AIDS by doing their shopping, cooking and cleaning. Jon helped with personal care and helped bathe the patients. 


In 2015, Jon and Claude created the Bright Star Foundation with the purpose of assisting LBGQTI homeless youth in the Western United States. The foundation offers repatriation assistance, emergency services and supports other organizations efforts that helps these at-risk youth become successful members of society.

He is survived by his life partner of over 41 years, Claude Raffin; his sisters, Daveline Miller of Colorado, Sandra Dobson of Wyoming, Terri Mc Cune of Kansas, Evelyn Warner and CJ Tiffany of Colorado; his brothers, Michael Gathercole of Texas, Correy Evans and Dwain Evans of Wyoming, as well as many nieces and nephews.

Special thanks to the doctors, nurses and staff of Ridley-Tree Cancer Center and Cottage Hospital for their professional and compassionate care, Hospice of Santa Barbara for their assistance, Visiting Nurse and Hospice care for their sensitive end of life support and Senior Planning for staying by Jon’s side to the very last.

In the hundreds of tributes received, all said: "he made me smile" or "he made me laugh" or "he made me happy".  So remember Jon when you smile, laugh or feel happy.  Can you imagine a world where everyone strives to make others happy?  What a wonderful world we would have. If you can remember to do that, Jon’s legacy will live on.


Donations to Bright Star Foundation in his memory would be very appreciated. Checks can also be mailed to PO Box 50041, Henderson NV 89016.

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