After helping to level German industry as a World War II bombardier, John Moll returned to become a Sonoma Valley developer responsible for putting up hundreds of homes and many notable commercial buildings.
Moll and partner John Lobsinger developed tracts in Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties from 1945 through the early 1950s. Among the projects was the post-war subdivision near Sonoma Valley Hospital known as the Sebastiani tract.
Moll went out on his own when the partnership dissolved, designing and erecting custom homes and commercial buildings such as the Sonoma Cheese Factory, Eraldi's and The Index Tribune.
Moll died Wednesday at his Sonoma home. He was 88.
"He was an incredibly decent and gentle human being," said son, Glenn Moll of Sonoma. "There was such respect for him. Everyone knew they could trust John Moll."
He was born John Sigurd Moll in Oakland in 1924. After graduating from high school two years early, he went to University of California, Berkeley, where he studied engineering, played football and water polo.
He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1943 and became a bombardier of a B-24 Liberator. He flew 30 missions — leading his unit in 21 of them and earning the Distinguished Flying Cross for his accuracy in destroying German factories.
In his final two missions he saw the early fighter jets Germany was scrambling to produce.
"That's what they were trying to eliminate," his son said. "The jets were wreaking havoc."
Moll married Verna Doane, the sister of his pilot, and came to Sonoma after the war. They raised five children. His wife died in 1998.
Moll was a developer of houses, wineries and dairies until the early 1990s. Moll-Lobsinger received the first building permit issued by the city of Sonoma.
Moll himself was responsible for a long list of projects. He built Gundlach Bundschu Winery, the original Teeter baseball field and did the remodel of Sonoma City Hall.
Later in life Moll went into the self-storage business. He built Moll Self-Storage on family property in Schellville in 1992 and handed the business over to family when he retired.
His son said his dad was a big sports fan. He had a calm demeanor and never raised his voice to anyone.
"Dad had a look," he said. "When he gave us the look we knew it."
His health began to fail about six years ago. He died with family at his side. He was a Sonoma resident for 66 years.
In addition to his son, Moll is survived by daughter Diana Smith and son Steve Moll, both of Sonoma; Michael Moll of Reno and Alan Moll of Sacramento. He also is survived by his younger brother Norman Moll of Sonoma and eight grandchildren.
A funeral is to be held at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at Duggan's Mission Chapel in Sonoma.