Many of the people who died along the North Coast in 2013 were, as is generally expected, older — among them Pat Wiggins, 73, Jesse Love, 91, and Jim Grady, 77 — and so their passings prompted reviews of their many decades engaged in living.
But others died tragically young. The deaths of Alyssa Byrne, 19, and Hope Sega, 18, were excruciating reminders of the dearness of life and how final youthful error can be.
The October death of 13-year-old Andy Lopez, shot dead on Moorland Avenue by a sheriff's deputy, grieved and enraged the community, with many residents taking to the streets in protest of the deputy's use of deadly force.
In Memoriam 2013
George Snyder, a newspaperman, conservationist and outdoorsman whose endeavors reflected his Native American heritage and his spiritual connection to nature, died January 10. He was 68. Snyder was a 33-year resident of Occidental and a striking character: a tall, black man who typically wore cowboy duds and a broad smile.
Alyssa Byrne, a college student from Petaluma whose body was found in January in the Tahoe snow, was known for her love of sports and her ability to light up a room with her smile. A 19-year-old aspiring paramedic-firefighter, she apparently set out on New Year's Eve to walk in below-freezing temperatures from a concert to her hotel. Her body was found after a three-day search that sparked an outpouring of community support and national media attention. She was a student at Santa Rosa Junior College and a hostess at Cattlemens in Petaluma. She graduated from Casa Grande High School in 2011.
Chris Caswell, Celtic harpist and harp maker, who died of cancer at age 60 January 21 at his Oakland home, left behind a legion of fans, admiring colleagues and grateful students. He also left behind the many friends he made during his 15 years of living and working in the Russian River area.
PC: Dave Brown(CQ) has headed real estate lending at Exchange Bank for more than 16 years.
5/3/2004: D1: David Brown has headed real estate lending at Exchange Bank for more than 16 years.
10/4/2004: D8: David Brown
Tony Vicini, who left his native Italy for California as a teenager, toiled at whatever work he could find and first went into business in Santa Rosa serving cherries jubilee and a touch of class to patrons of his Los Robles Lodge, died January 22 at age 82. Vicini was still a young man when he left the hospitality industry for a new career selling property and building shopping centers, theaters and other commercial developments.
Quick-witted radio broadcaster Jim Grady, for more than 50 years the voice of Sonoma County and one of its happiest advocates, died February 13 at the age of 77. Grady first eased behind a microphone at KSRO-1350AM on April 1, 1960. For the past eight years, he told stories and let listeners hype their garage sales every Saturday and Sunday morning on KZST-100.1FM.
Former Sonoma County Supervisor and Deputy Sheriff Bob Adams, an enterprising and sociable man who left California two decades ago to run bicycle shops in Texas and New Mexico and then market tortilla warmers, died February 14 at age 72. Adams posed a conservative, affable and mischievous presence on the county governing board during the single term that he represented the First District, from 1981 through 1984.
When Norma Barrington decided she might be interested in music, she asked her teenage son Gary to pick her up an instrument. He bought a Fender bass for $50 at Sunset-West Department Store, and she began plucking away. For the next 20 years, she was in the traveling band Don Gils. She died March 5.
Carrie Hamburg, formerly an unwed single mother in New York City's impoverished Hells Kitchen, became a congressman's wife, a musician and a political activist in her own right. Hamburg, 66, died of cancer at her Ukiah home on March 5. Dan Hamburg, a Mendocino County supervisor who served a single term as North Coast congressman in the early 1990s, was his wife's caregiver during her final days.
Cliff Melim died March 6 at age 87 of congestive heart failure, leaving behind a distinguished career as a real estate developer in Hawaii and as a winemaker in Healdsburg. He was active in community affairs and helped organize the 1998 effort to save Healdsburg Hospital from closure.
Jim Barrett, who stunned the wine world in 1976 when his Napa Valley chardonnay beat a lineup of French wines in a blind tasting that came to be known as the "Judgment of Paris," died March 14 at age 86. The event, covered in a short blurb in Time magazine, vaulted Barrett's Chateau Montelena into the top rank of wineries and put Napa Valley on the map of wine lovers worldwide.
Marcus Josef Johnson started racing 5-horsepower go-karts at age 5 and in nine years won more than 200 races and four championships, working his way up to karts powered by 500-cubic-centimeter engines. Johnson, a 14-year-old student at Rincon Valley Middle School in Santa Rosa, died in an accident at a Marysville race track Saturday, March 16.
In a 45-year partnership and marriage to a woman once known as the unofficial mayor of Bodega Bay, Hugh 'Wes' Mitchell was the quiet one, an able contractor and stout former football player who stood as the personal and political bodyguard to his tenacious wife, Hazel. Mitchell died April 24 at his home in Santa Rosa after suffering a stroke several months earlier. He was 84.
John Cardinale, the longtime community and media relations manager at the raceway at Sears Point, died after a two-year bout of gastric cancer. He was 47. Cardinale passed away overnight March 20 at his Martinez home with his family.
Claramae Turner, the acclaimed and versatile San Francisco Opera singer perhaps most widely known for her heart-melting rendition of 'You'll Never Walk Alone' in the 1956 film 'Carousel,' died May 18 in Santa Rosa. Turner, who introduced 'I Left My Heart in San Francisco' nearly a decade before Tony Bennett recorded it, was 92.
Sonoma County Fair President Ralph Bettinelli,left, with granddaughter Connie Jones,4-H Reserve Grand Champion winner, before the start of the Hog Sale at the Sonoma County Fair Junior Livestock Auction Thursday July 31 in Santa Rosa.
3/17/2013:B1: Ernest ``Kentucky'' Pendergrass, shown at the Vacaville prison in 2004, was well-known and well-liked in Santa Rosa before his notorius crime.
8/8/2004: B1: Ernest ``Kentucky'' Pendergrass, 81, the sixth-oldest of 3,100 inmates housed at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, spoke from the prison last week, where he is serving time for the 1981 murder of his former mistress and her husband.
11/4/2013: B1: Obituary
8/13/2008:A1: Pat Wiggins
8/12/2008:B1: Pat Wiggins
8/8/2008: B1: Pat Wiggins
2/25/2008: D1: State Sen. Pat Wiggins, D-Santa Rosa
8/28/2007:B1: Pat Wiggins
1/6/2007:B1: Pat Wiggins
11/8/2006: B3: Pat Wiggins
10/15/2006: B3: Pat Wiggins
PC: 2006 candidate Pat Wiggins for 2nd Senate District. Credit Sirlin Studios
Mike Panas, a son of Greek immigrants who spent his childhood summers in Santa Rosa lugging wholesale produce and years later cultivated himself into one of Sonoma County's most civically engaged bankers, died Aug. 26 at his longtime home. Panas, a good-natured sort who relished a good laugh and a morning of toil in the garden, would have turned 99 a week later.
PC: Pearl Harbor survivor Jesse Love salutes the flag during a playing of "Taps" at the Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony at Veterans Memorial Hall in Santa Rosa, California on Wednesday, December 7, 2011. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)
When David Benson took the helm of Sonoma State University in 1984 the campus was in turmoil. Benson is credited with redirecting the university and restoring morale. He died Oct. 4 in Santa Rosa at age 81.
9/11/2007: B1: Nina Regor
PC: Nina Regor, Cloverdale's newly named city manager
Charles Bacigalupi, a longtime grape grower whose Russian River chardonnay grapes helped bring California wines their first international acclaim, died in October after a brief fight with cancer. He was 89 years old, and drove a flatbed truck to deliver grapes and worked the fields throughout the final year of his life.
Gloria Duncan, a public relations dynamo who helped to promote and grow Sonoma State University, Community Foundation Sonoma County and the regional chapter of the American Red Cross, died Oct. 23 at age 76.
John Bressie picked up a camera as a kid at Analy High in Sebastopol in the 1950s and never set it down. For the past three decades, the professional photographer worked as a precise and respected adjunct member of the Art Department faculty at Santa Rosa Junior College. Before that, Bressie sold cameras and taught classes at the former Unruh's camera store. He died Nov. 20 in Santa Rosa following a battle with cancer. He was 76.
Fred Fortunati, longtime owner of Lombardi's Petaluma French Bakery, died Nov. 21 after a long battle with cancer.
Victims' rights advocate Dorothy Guest died Nov. 21 after a long fight with cancer. She was 88
Andy Lopez, 13, was shot and killed by Sonoma County Sheriff's Deputy Erick Gelhaus on Oct. 22.
Some deaths, like that of banker Dave Brown, 53, rattled industries. Others, like that of winemaker of Jim Barrett, 86, summoned memories of landmark achievement.
Death also occurred at society's margins. At least two people who had long been homeless died on local streets, Anatolio Barocio, 58, and James Wood, 60 — shoving to the fore life's hardness.
Sometimes death can knit a community more tightly.
"The larger culture has celebrated individuals to such a degree that people don't celebrate how connected we are. And it's quite clear that when people lose people, that they become aware of their connections," said Kathy Charmaz, a Sonoma State University sociologist.
"I think we tend to deny and minimize our connections to community," said Charmaz, who teaches a course titled Death and American Culture. "In that way, recognizing the lives of people who have died, whether they are known to many or just a few, is important."
In the early hours of 2013, Alyssa Byrne of Petaluma, 19, a Casa Grande High School graduate known for her fierce wit and lacrosse skills, died in a Tahoe snowbank after wandering off alone after a concert. Friends said she had been drinking and methamphetamine was later found in her system. Her parents launched a public awareness campaign urging young people to look out for one another to keep danger at bay.
In January, George Snyder of Occidental, a chronicler of his community, and an avid campaigner for the outdoors, died. A San Francisco Chronicle reporter, Snyder, a tall black man of American Indian ancestry who liked to wear a cowboy hat, was 68.