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Hats off to education at Gray Foundation fundraiser

  • (From left) Kevin Konicek, Lea Barron-Thomas, Barbara Konicek, and Michelle Zyromski at the Gray Foundation's Sunday Best IV at the DeTurk Round Barn in Santa Rosa, California on Sunday, September 29, 2013. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

Hats were the thing at an elegant soiree and youth-scholarship benefit at Santa Rosa's gloriously repurposed DeTurk Round Barn.

Fashionable, dramatic, even audacious headwear was modeled by notable Sonoma County women -- among them, former Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey; County Supervisor Susan Gorin; Santa Rosa City Councilwoman Julie Combs; Vivian Coffee, widow of pastor and community leader James E. Coffee; and retired Rev. Ann Gray Byrd, daughter of the late Alice Gray.

Most of the hats had belonged to Gray, long a pillar of Santa Rosa's African-American community. Each Sunday morning, she arrived at Community Baptist Church, which she'd helped to found, wearing a hat that made a statement.

Gray Foundation's Sunday Best IV

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On the afternoon of Sept. 29, the last of Gray's resplendent hats were auctioned by the foundation that she and her late husband, Gilbert, created to provide scholarships to graduates of Sonoma County high schools. The Gray Foundation has granted more than $180,000 to nearly 200 students.

The Sunday Best IV auction and wine-and-hors d'oeuvres reception also presented Gray Foundation community service awards to Greg Sarris, chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, and "Pasta King" Art Ibleto.

And to cap off the Alice Gray legacy hat celebration, the Gray Foundation awarded college scholarships to four grateful local students.


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