Prominent citizens are often described as "towering figures" in the community.
Robert Ellison left an enduring mark on Sonoma County by forging towering steel figures that stand in public places from Petaluma to Santa Rosa — and places as far away as Providence, R.I. and Anchorage, Alaska.
Ellison, who died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis at his Sonoma Mountain home on Sept. 9 at age 65, is among the county's notable residents who passed away this year.
Notable 2012 Sonoma County Deaths
7/29/2012: C8: [Found dead in trailer in July of 2012, cause of death unknown, believed to be undiagnosed heart problem]
4/6/2007: C1: Santa Rosa High alum Broc Cresta competes in steer wrestling at the 2005 National HS Finals rodeo in Wyoming.
PC: broc cresta
Pearl Harbor veteran Don Blair, right salutes as the colors are presented during the annual Pearl Harbor survivors breakfast at the Veterans Building in Santa Rosa on Tuesday morning. Blair was aboard the U.S.S. Downs on December 7, 1941.
Dago Sotelo, seen with his granddaughter Angelica, was a fixture on the soccer field in southwest Santa Rosa. COURTESY PHOTO
PC: Gene Oliver kept the tattered flag that flew on the USS Dale on December 7, 1941. Oliver survived the attack on Pearl Harbor and served on the USS Dale for five years. cc1127_Oliver_Flag.jpg
12/1/2002: B1: Gene Oliver kept the tattered flag that flew on the USS Dale on Dec. 7, 1941. Oliver survived the attack on Pearl Harbor and served on the Dale for five years. In all, the ship was in 20 major World War II engagements, including the Battle of Midway and Guadalcanal.
12/7/2008: B11: Frank Sennello, 87, was a seaman first class with the submarine USS Narwhal during the attack on Pearl Harbor. He is president of the local chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivor’s Association.
PC: Frank Sennello, 87, was a seaman first class with the USS Narwhal, a submarine, during the attack on Pearl Harbor
PC: Louis J. Foppiano - Healdsburg winery owner
Former Superior Court Judge Joe Murphy (cq), now 81 and chair of the library commission, walks through his Santa Rosa neighborhood where he has lived for over 40 years.
Sculptor Robert Ellison has designed and constructed large public sculptures as well as smaller, more exploratory pieces for thirty years and scale models abound at the Sonoma Mountain home-studio where he fabricates the works.
Rose Cliver, 106, was 3 1/2 years old when the 1906 San Francisco earthquake shook her Bernal Heights home.
10/4/2005: A1: Rex Sater
PC: Rex Sater at home, with family photoghraphs. Sater has retired, but will be a sub on the bench from time to time. Local photos news
PC: Steve and Marthe Norwick - Galapagos 2011
Among the departed are two prominent jurists, three Pearl Harbor veterans and a woman who survived the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.
Some endured for decades, like wine pioneer Louis J. Foppiano who died in March at 101, while others passed prematurely, like rodeo star Broc Cresta, who died in July at 25.
Ellison's name may be unfamiliar to many, but his art is practically unavoidable. "Sun Zone," a 14-foot-tall, three-legged piece reminiscent of ice cream cones, stands in front of the Sonoma County Administration Center.
"Arch Tworain," a 28-foot cream-colored structure that weighs 8? tons, stands along the entry road to the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts. The scissored "Renaissance" rested for years in Old Courthouse Square and is now at Cornerstone Sonoma.
Public art like Ellison's welded steel abstractions serve a purpose, said Harvey Charnofsky of Sebastopol, board president of the Arts Council of Sonoma County.
"It raises the awareness that art has a place of importance in our community," he said.
It also translates into revenue for the local economy, Charnofsky said, asserting that visitors stay longer and spend more in art-rich places like Sonoma County.