Ryan Connolly lived a most passionate, pedal-to-the-metal life, but it didn't last anywhere near long enough for the 2002 Piner High alum to do all he yearned to do.
The decorated Army sergeant had spent less than a month with his baby daughter, he pined for his wife and he ached to get his hands dirty restoring an old Chevy when he was killed, at 24, in Afghanistan in 2008.
The army later named a base in Afghanistan Forward Operating Base Connolly.
And days ago some local car lovers grateful to him sold at auction the tangelo-colored early &‘70s Nova hot rod they'd fastidiously built over several years.
Peggy and Rich Williams of Santa Rosa's huge Peggy Sue's All-American Cruise car show presented $40,000 — the net proceeds of the sale of the Nova — to Connolly's widow, Stefanie, and 5-year-old daughter, Kayla.
The money will go toward Kayla's education and participation in programs for children of fallen soldiers.
Tom Kemper, a vet and car buff in Windsor, initiated the Nova project and many local firms pitched in. DiMatteo's Street Rods alone put in more than 2,000 volunteer hours on the heartfelt project.
Connolly's dad, Jim, treasures the years of memories of the two of them putting wrenches to anything with tires and a motor. He finds it hard to describe how much care and community he saw go into that Nova and much his boy would have loved to take it out for a spin.
BUSINESS CYCLE: Given the rage cycling has become in Sonoma County, you'd think quality bicycles would sell themselves.
Russ McCracken wishes that were so. After more than a quarter century in business, he'll close his Rincon Cyclery in December.
"Since October 2008, the marketplace has changed," said McCracken, whose civic roles include his volunteering as a Sonoma County Law Enforcement Chaplain.
These days, he said, many cyclists are holding onto their bikes longer or buying used or new bikes online or purchasing them from one of the county's big, new bicycle stores. He carries Trek bikes and can't compete with the new Trek store downtown.
So he mounts a retirement sale and hopes his employees will land on their feet.
JUSTIN AND JESSICA tied the knot last month in Italy, but anyone who cares about such celebrity goings-on already knows that.
Less known is that actress Jessica Biel and singer/actor Justin Timberlake poured and presented to guests a wine custom blended by longtime friend and snowboarding buddy Jesse Katz.
Katz, the son of renowned photographer Andy Katz and the winemaker at Lancaster Estate in Alexander Valley, made the wine-savvy couple two barrels of a 2009 red.
At 28, Katz has hit the slopes in his native Colorado with Biel and Timberlake for years, and they've been big on his wines since his days at Screaming Eagle.
Graphics artist Ellen Riendeau used artwork from the couple for the bottle label.
May the marriage age as well as the wine.
Azolla: Did you know?
50 million years ago, the aquatic weed now blanketing parts of Spring Lake grew en masse in the Arctic Ocean, then a hot lake, and absorbed enough carbon dioxide to help cool a planet dangerously overheated by greenhouse gases.
Read all of the PD's fire coverage here