Terry M. Kitaen

December 7, 1938April 12, 2021

Terry M. Kitaen Dec. 7, 1938—April 12, 2021 Heaven waited 82 years to bring home our husband, father, brother and friend, and we are grateful for every moment. Charming and personable to a fault, he moved through life with ease and confidence, often heard to say, “Don’t sweat the small stuff—and it’s all small stuff.”

Born Dec.7, 1938 in San Diego, CA, Terry attended Alice Birney Elementary, Roosevelt Junior High, and was a proud member of the legendary Hoover High class of 1956. A smooth-handed middle infielder, baseball was his youthful passion. He played at Hoover and the Army, then later got his fix through fast-pitch softball and Over-the-Line.

Terry moved away several times, but always returned to San Diego. In the late ‘50s he was stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky while serving as a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne “Screaming Eagles.”

He also lived in Los Angeles, Huntington Beach, and later San Antonio, Texas where in 1986 he married the rock of his life MaryEsther Cantu. He returned with his new bride to the city he loved and remained 35 more years until his passing.

Terry never met a stranger, and he leaves behind family and friends in California and Texas that will dearly miss his warmth and wit.

Terry was successful in sales, first in clothing and jewelry and then with local sign companies California Neon Products and Signtech (from which he retired at age 80). Self-proclaimed master of the art of working smart over hard, he prioritized family, friends, music, humor, grandchildren, sports, and Texas bbq. Though his Chargers and Padres never won it all, he was fiercely loyal and will continue cheering as an eternal season ticket holder—aisle seat only.

One of Terry’s proudest moments occurred on a beautiful Dec. 6 day in 2019 when a plaque commemorating his military service was dedicated on Mt. Soledad in La Jolla. Though he has made his final jump, our number-one paratrooper will never be forgotten. Heaven has a new shortstop.

Terry was preceded in death by mother Eleanor, father Joe, and brother Darreld, and is survived by wife MaryEsther, children Julie, Krista (Sascha), Jordan (Kim), sister Susan (Michael), sister-in-law Rosalee, and 9 grandchildren (Bianca 28, Wynter 28, Raine 22, Joseph 21, Cooper 19, Eli 17, Beckett 17, Lee-o 15, Isaac 15). He is also survived by his beloved Cantu inlaws and many nephews, nieces and cousins.

The family thanks Dr. Jenny Devitt and the doctors and nurses of Kaiser, as well as Radiant Hospice. In lieu of flowers please consider donating to

Due to Covid restrictions, unfortunately capacity is limited. We encourage you to watch this very special service via live stream by using the following link or going to and clicking on the "join livestream" banner. This banner will appear just a couple minutes before the service starts.


  • Committal Service

    Monday, May 10, 2021



Terry M. Kitaen

have a memory or condolence to add?

Scott Moller

May 11, 2021

Terry, I loved your infectious smile. You had a calm professional manner and we're great to work with in the sign industry. See you on the other side. Love Scott

Karen Ribby

May 11, 2021

I want to offer my sincere condolences to Mary Esther and all of Terry’s family....we lost a good one. He was always friendly and kind to everyone, and he will be missed. Thank you Mary Esther for sharing him with us, at reunions and wherever, and for taking such good care of our dear friend.

Gladys Marijana

May 10, 2021

My deep condolences to Esther and the Kitaen Family. I am saddened to also find out about Terry's daughter, Tawny. Terry and I worked together at Signtech for about 9 and a half years. He was a joy to woth with. We were a great team and I have learned so much from him (he was a great friend, mentor, and has become family). I love you Terry. You will be missed.

Rosemary greene

May 10, 2021

I will remember his voice like it was yesterday still. Very distinct and he was funny. A great dancer and always positive. Terry never gave up the will to live until the end. He will not be forgotten. He loved his hair so much and had many styles that were him ! I will miss him . I send my condolences to Mary Esther and family .

Barbara Glover

May 10, 2021

My prayers are with your family during this time of mourning. I was a long ago schoolmate at Alice Birney!

Ellen Pope

May 10, 2021

I am so sorry for your loss.
I so enjoyed spending time with both of you at the basketball games and Kitaen family events.
Terry was so blessed to have you as his wife. You took such loving good care of him.
He will be missed by all.

A big hug to you. We love you very much.

Ellen Pope and family

Gary Hartzell

May 10, 2021

Worked with Terry for years always had a great attitude towards everything in life. His hair style was his trademark what a wry sense of humor he will be missed. Tragedy about Tawny, Terry was so proud of her and her accomplishments, he once got me an autographed photo to send to my son in the Navy. He was the envy of the entire ship all the other sailors would pass by his bunk and wish her goodnight.
Rest easy old friend.

Elaine Marlin (Novak)

May 9, 2021

Dear Kitaen family,
I was so saddened to hear the news of passing of Terry and now Julie.
I have fond childhood memories of spending a lot of time with the Kitaen family as my parents were dear friends of Joe and Eleanor. Susan my remember me.
Julie lived in my neighborhood in OC so we reconnected and one day when Terry was visiting Julie, I was able to join them for brunch and show family pictures I treasured for years they had never seen.
I’ll never forget the wonderful memories of a family that shared their love.
May they Rest In Peace!
Elaine Marlin (Novak)

Carol Kranenberg

May 8, 2021

I was best friends with his daughter Krista for many years as a child, and have very fond ,happy memories of her Father Terry , who was ALWAYS smiling and in a great mood! My deepest condolences to the Family. Sincerely with love, Carol Kranenberg

Glenn Stanton

May 8, 2021

Terry worked with us at Stanford Signs for many years.
A genuinely good guy.
Always had a smile.
Always had a great attitude.