John Moll

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.

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