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Juanita 'Punky' Lownes

Friends and family always knew Juanita "Punky" Lownes would give them honest advice.

Lownes, who lived in Sonoma County almost her entire life, died Halloween morning when her motor home caught fire in west Healdsburg. She was 70.

Services are Thursday at 11 a.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on Powell Avenue in Healdsburg. Following the service, a celebration of life will be held at Johnson's Winery, 8333 Highway 128.

County fire officials said the fire was accidental. Lownes' daughter-in-law, Heather Lownes, said papers near a space heater may have ignited.

Family and friends said Lownes offered frank advice when asked.

"No matter who you were, where you came from, people seemed to be drawn to her, largely because she was a good listener," Heather Lownes said. "But then she gave you honest feedback — no matter if you liked to hear it or not. You could rely on her to be a good listener, and have her tell you how it was.

"People kept going back to her to talk," she said. "They'd say, &‘Hey Punky, what do you think?' And she would tell you."

Always ready with a smile and infectious laugh, Lownes often put her sage counsel in context: "This too shall pass," she advised.

Lownes was born June 19, 1942, in Healdsburg, where she lived her whole life with the exception of a couple of years in Washington state, her daughter-in-law said. As country folk, the family began calling Juanita "Pumpkin," which translated to Punkin', and then Punky, which stuck throughout her life.

She wed her high school sweetheart, Robert Lownes of Healdsburg, to whom she was married for 31 years.


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