Barbara Konicek, an elegant link to old Santa Rosa, championed a wide range of charitable causes before her death Saturday at age 90.
Konicek, a third-generation Santa Rosan, was known for her elaborate Christmas parties in a B Street Victorian that had been in her family for more than 100 years. But she also was a passionate volunteer for groups that help the poor, immigrants and troubled teens.
"Barbara really, really cared and identified with people who were suffering, particularly young people and families," retired Sonoma County Judge Gayle Guynup said.
Guynup recruited Konicek more than a dozen years ago to serve on the board of Social Advocates for Youth. At 90, she donned a fluorescent T-shirt to champion its Dream Center.
Her community involvement covered a wide spectrum, including the boards of Catholic Charities, the Symphony League and Ursuline High School, as well as the parish council at St.Eugene's Cathedral. Over the years, she also supported a number of candidates for various offices.
"Barbara was the epitome of involvement, whether it was political, charitable or religious," said former Congressman Doug Bosco, who is married to Guynup.
With her trademark blond bouffant and breathy voice, she was a fixture for decades on Santa Rosa's social scene. She believed in pearls, polished silver and upholding standards. Also, a martini at 5.
Born Barbara Jones, Konicek was the sole grandchild of brewer William Metzger, who for a 20th wedding anniversary present in the 1890s bought his wife, Augusta, a spacious Italianate residence at Eighth and B streets near St. Rose Catholic Church.
Until her death, Konicek shared that house with her daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren. She thrived on the energy of the younger generations and their new ideas, while insisting on respect for the past, friends and family said.
Konicek attended St. Rose School and graduated from Santa Rosa High in 1941. She went on to Santa Rosa Junior College and graduated from UC Berkeley, where she studied journalism.
She met her future husband, pharmacist Tom Konicek, while he was an airman stationed in Santa Rosa during World War II. He approached her in 1945 at a McDonald Avenue party and told her, "You don't know this yet, but someday you're going to marry me."
The couple wed in 1946.
The Koniceks were active in Santa Rosa society in the city's boom years of the 1960s and 1970s. Tom Konicek served as president of the Wild Oak Saddle Club and emceed countless local benefits and beauty pageants.
Barbara Konicek is remembered by friends for her gracious hospitality and a genuine warmth toward others.
"She was always such a lady, so full of kindness," said Mary McNeany, a longtime friend and the widow of former Rosenberg department store owner Bill McNeany.
Three decades ago, the Koniceks renovated the B Street Victorian as part of a Symphony League designer showcase. Afterward, the couple moved into the home, where they displayed both furnishings and art passed down from Konicek's family.
Her roots were important to her.
"She just loved this place, Santa Rosa and Sonoma County, and the history that she inherited," said her son, Kevin Konicek.
Tom Konicek died in 2009.
Barbara Konicek opened her house for a variety of events, including a retreat for Social Advocates for Youth and fundraisers for local candidates. The Christmas parties she hosted with her family were a holiday highlight, with more than 300 people attending the 2012 event.