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A celebration for the Daffodil Queen

  • Kunde family friend Charlie Barboni welcomes guests to a memorial service for the late Saralee Kunde at the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa, on Sunday, February 16, 2014. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

Saralee McClelland Kunde's reputation as a consummate party hostess was burnished at her memorial celebration Sunday with flutes of sparkling wine served to hundreds of guests arriving at the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts.

And after a tribute in words, photographs and music to Kunde, who died Jan. 26 after a 15-month battle with cancer, guests were invited to take home the 6,000 daffodils that lined the auditorium stage.

Wine, shrimp, oysters on the half shell and other hors d'oeuvres were served at a reception for the crowd that nearly filled the main theater.

In Celebration of Saralee Kunde

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Kunde, 66, a dairy rancher's daughter who became a noted wine grape grower and tireless advocate for Sonoma County agriculture, was also known as the county's Daffodil Queen for giving away thousands of bulbs to be planted along local roads and highways.

"I've always thought of Saralee when I see daffodils," said Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, who is also a grape grower.

"Agriculture was her passion, her love and her life's work," said Thompson, the first of eight speakers paying tribute to Kunde.

Pat Emery, a Santa Rosa attorney who handled legal affairs for Saralee and her husband, Richard Kunde, recalled her as a "warm, loving, generous" person who was "calm under pressure."

That was an asset, Emery said, noting that "sometimes her husband and his lawyer could get really upset about things."

"She made us all better versions of ourselves," he said.

The Kundes met while both were decorating the Hall of Flowers for the Sonoma County Harvest Fair.


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