SMITH: The lives Rhiannon lived, saved
Published: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 3:15 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 3:15 p.m.
If you spot the March 12 issue of Sports Illustrated, grab it.
Near the back is an extraordinary story on Rhiannon Hull, the multi-gifted runner from Healdsburg who drowned off of Costa Rica last fall after a valiant fight to save her 6-year-old son, Julian.
The piece plumbs how deeply Rhiannon loved her two sons and her husband, running and Waldorf-style education and how she struggled to start a kindergarten in a seaside Costa Rican hamlet.
It also tells about the Rhiannon Joy Hull Foundation (rjhf.org) that Norm Hull has created to bolster alternative ed.
Rhiannon, 33, and Julian had been in Costa Rica just six weeks — Norm and second son Gianni were preparing the join them — when a potent current pulled mom and son offshore during a swim Oct. 28. She'd fought for about half an hour to hold Julian up above the surface when two young surfers grabbed the boy, then searched to no avail for her.
“One day nearly three months later, back home in Healdsburg,” shares the SI piece, “Norm was in the car with his boys when Julian piped up, ‘I worked really hard to save Mommy.'”
100-PLUS AT 85?: For her 80th birthday five years ago, Ruth Halleck of Sebastopol tumbled out of a plane high above northern Sonoma County, fell like a rock and then rode a tandem parachute back to earth.
To mark her 85th, Ruth will strap into a race car at Infineon on Sunday morning, take a lesson and see what her open-wheel formula car — capable of nearly 200 mph — will do for her.
“I'd like to go faster than 100,” said Ruth, a grandmother of 17 whose working days included running a dress shop in Sebastopol and restaurant at the county airport.
A little rain, if it comes, won't dampen her party in the skybox or keep her off the track. She vows, “I'm going to drive, no matter what.”
CITY OF PARIS, the glass-domed department store that graced San Francisco's Union Square for more than 100 years, was best known to many for its spectacular Christmas tree.
Towering toward the store's elegant rotunda, the tree wore about 4,000 huge ornaments and more than 2,000 lights. It was, for years, a source of great pride to Roy Unger, who's lived for years in Rohnert Park.
Shortly after World War II, the veteran went to work as display manager for City of Paris. Roy won awards for his window displays and he had major responsibility for finding, procuring, moving and decorating the 50- to 60-foot Christmas tree.
Daughter Linda Schaeffer remembers that Roy made a family trip of venturing to Occidental each summer to select the perfect specimen to be cut and trucked to San Francisco in December.
“He was really proud of those trees,” Linda said. She suspects her dad may recall City of Paris and its magical Christmas trees at his birthday party Friday at Petaluma's City Limits Restaurant.
Linda said his memories still sparkle clearly at age 102.
Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and email@example.com.
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