Former Idyllwilder John Wiita, 77, died of natural causes Oct. 12, 1998, in Laguna Hills.

He was born May 25, 1921, in Fitchburg, Mass. Mr. Wiita received a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from Northeastern University in Boston and worked as an engineer for Douglas Aircraft in Long Beach before entering the U.S. Navy in WWII.

After the war, he settled in Whittier with his bride, the former Marguerite (Maggi) Whitacre of Whittier, and began working for Steelform Contracting Company, a major West Coast construction subcontractor out of in San Francisco.

While pursuing his career, he rose from a draftsman to senior vice president in charge of operations in Southern California. But he devoted himself to his family and to community service, giving long hours to the Whittier Chapter of the International YÕs MenÕs Club Ñ the menÕs service auxiliary of the YMCA Ñ and served as international district governor of that organization.

Mr. Wiita was elected to the school board of Whittier City School District and served as president in 1967-68 and again in 1970-71. He was both an Indian Guide and a Boy Scout leader, as well as a member of the Lions Club.

Mr. and Mrs. Wiita moved to Idyllwild in 1980, where Mrs. Wiita and Ruth Mitchell founded Tahquitz Travel. Mr. Wiita was active in the American Legion Post 800. He lived in Laguna Hills at the time of his death.

He is survived and dearly missed by his beloved wife of 54 years; his children, Douglas Wiita of Playa Del Rey, Janet Johnson of Pullman, Wash., Joanne Wiita of Gypsum, Colo. and Kathy Wiita-Blake of Santa Barbara; four grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.

Private services were held on Oct. 15 at the United Methodist Church of Laguna Hills. He was to be cremated and his ashes scattered.

Donations may be made to the Camp Arbolado Fund of the Whittier YMCA, 12510 Hadley St., Whittier, CA 90601.