It didn't take winning big on "The Price is Right" to persuade seasoned Sonoma County waiter Daniel Byrne that he lived a fortunate life.
Byrne savored Wine Country cuisine, singing karaoke in Guerneville, his garden, his friends, his Santa Rosa cottage festooned with antiques and curiosities, and any excuse to take a scenic drive.
The 1966 Montgomery High graduate and co-creator of the school's Viking logo died Saturday. He'd gone into Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital several days earlier with acute symptoms of a lung condition that deprived him of oxygen.
The former longtime waiter at the Sonoma Mission Inn was 64.
The greeting on his telephone answering machine was the voice of a TV game-show announcer beckoning, "Daniel Byrne! Come on down!"
For years, he watched Bob Barker and "The Price is Right" with his late mother, Edith. Before she died she urged him to try to get onto the show as a contestant.
Byrne took a shot and in 2003 made the cut. He had the time of his life on the show and came home with one of the richest prize packages it had ever awarded: a Cadillac coupe, a Ford pickup, a trip to Ireland, a pair of designer wristwatches, a fancy telescope and a big TV.
He sold the cars and bought a Saab to replace his beloved old VW.
Byrne was a good-humored character well known in Sonoma County hospitality circles for much of his life. He said in 2009 that he got his start as a kid wrapping baking potatoes in foil at the Sizzler in 1965.
He went on to wait tables at the Mark West Lodge, Los Robles, the Fairmont in San Francisco, The Hilltopper, John Ash and the Sonoma Mission Inn.