A baby. A book. A home of one’s own. Meaningful journeys and a few simple pleasures.
A select group of North Coast residents shared these goals and aspirations, all of which came to fruition in 2014 and will continue to impact their lives in 2015.
CALLIE AND SEAN HAYNES, Cloverdale
Having a child has always been on the radar of Callie and Sean Haynes, but after 15 years together — a little over five as man and wife — they weren’t optimistic about their chances.
Then along came Nicholas in Febru ary.
Callie Haynes was born with cerebral palsy, weighing less than 3 pounds, and at 35, she gets around with the help of a wheelchair. But that didn’t interfere with her desire to have a child or her ability to carry one.
When the couple found out she was pregnant, she said, they were “over the moon” with excitement.
Doctors had some concerns about her blood pressure, but her pregnancy was problem-free.
“We never stopped hoping,” Haynes said. “Now we look forward to giving Nicholas a little brother or sister.”
Mary Jo Winter
CHRISTOPHER WELSH, Cloverdale
Christopher Welsh is a disabled U.S. Navy veteran who has lived in Cloverdale for the past 33 years. Most of that time, he was homeless.
“I tried apartment living, but it never worked out,” said Welsh, 74.
For the past 11 years, he has been living in a big silver van packed with personal items, stashing the rest of his belongings in nine separate storage units.
Working with Cloverdale’s Wine Country Real Estate Network, he was able to purchase his first home shortly before Thanksgiving, although it wasn’t smooth sailing.
The bank needed his DD 214 discharge papers to seal the deal, but he wasn’t able to locate the box in which he had put them for safekeeping.
Fortunately, the Veterans Administration stepped in, promising to provide a new copy just in time and enabling Welsh to settle into his new digs.
“I have a place of my own to call home,” he said simply. “What more could a fellow ask?”
Mary Jo Winter
WALTER MURRAY, Healdsburg
Walter Murray, who turned 102 on Christmas Eve, has lived in the same Healdsburg home for all but two of those years. His bucket list is as steadfast as his address: travel, “look at the ladies” and eat good food, while continuing to add to the list.
Murray has traveled to Hawaii and cruised to South America and hopes to cruise the Florida Keys this year while visiting his cousin Ethel Murray.
Last year’s travel plans were curtailed by hip replacement surgery, but Murray said he had plenty of ladies to ogle at Healdsburg’s Tuesday Night Concert Series.
“Walter’s still engaged with life,” friend Gina Riner said. “He doesn’t sit around watching television.”
And when it comes time for a meal, Murray surrounds himself with family and friends as part of a “Monday Night Supper Club.” Good food abounds, particularly when friends Brenda Bacchi and Mary Pat Rowan or cousin Joan Murray cook.
“I like going out, but homemade food is the best,” Murray said with a smile.
BRINO ISM, Santa Rosa
After 10 years of teaching art at the Los Guilicos Juvenile Justice Center and six years working in Santa Rosa’s SOFA arts district, artist Brino Ism set out on a personal journey. He decided to retire, buy a travel trailer and travel across the country, spreading cheer and posting “Wanted Happy” stickers.
He spent two years planning and preparing the trailer and scheduled a New Year’s Day departure from Santa Rosa. If all goes well, he will travel in a spiral pattern and call on his alternate career as Clown for World Peace.
“A clown can do a lot of good work in a disaster,” said Ism, 59. “I’m freed up now to go there. Through sponsorship, through my own craftiness, I’ll get there.”
He adds, “I have put every resource and all the money I’ve had into this trailer, into making it the most incredible captain’s cabin and fulfilling my dream of going out there and just being a full-time happy-maker.”
Ism is crowdsourcing funds for his journey and plans to keep a blog of his travels on wantedhappy.club.
ROSEMARIE PEDRANZINI, Sonoma
Rosemarie Pedranzini, a 78-year-old homemaker, former drug store clerk and cancer survivor, doesn’t bother herself with grandiose dreams. For as long as she can recall, she’s wanted to lace up a pair of bowling shoes and hit the lanes.
When her daughter and son-in-law arranged a surprise visit to Double Decker Lanes in Rohnert Park following a birthday dinner for Pedranzini, the longtime Sonoman was bowled over with excitement.
“I said, ‘Oh my God, I get to go bowling!’ I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I was so happy.”
Pedranzini rolled a gutter ball or two but considers the experience a winner that ranks right up there with another recent opportunity to fulfill a wish.
She is a car lover with a lead foot who also admires old-school, big-rig trucks, like the shiny new blue 18-wheeler that caught her fancy at a car show. She was invited to climb aboard, a journey akin to reaching heaven.
“It’s just the little things that make me very happy,” Pedranzini said. “I really am blessed.”
Dianne Reber Hart
SUSAN BONO, Petaluma
This was the year that Susan Bono, 59, published her first book, “What Have We Here: Essays about Keeping House and Finding Home.”
“It only took 20 years,” she said.
“It’s a collection of essays. The idea of sitting down and writing one thing after another, I couldn’t picture doing that. I had never pictured myself having a book,” Bono said.
Bono has been writing since she was in sixth grade, “when I started to fantasize about being a writer.”
Putting the book together helped her deal with the decision to stop publishing her literary magazine, Tiny Lights: A Journal of Personal Narrative, after 19 years.
“This filled the gap while I was learning to live without Tiny Lights,” she said. “I feel like I’m finally a writer. Even after all the writing I’ve done, it has been easier to call myself an editor or a writing teacher.”
Bono is delighted to learn that people are buying the book — so many, in fact, that Copperfield’s sold out and requested more.
“This has felt like the cherry on a very fudgy and delicious sundae,” she said. “There’s nothing quite like tying a bow on a big chunk of living.”
FERN NABER, Healdsburg
Fern Naber completed the biggest item on her bucket list in the 1980s when she and her late husband Fred traveled through Canada’s southern provinces. These days, she finds almost as much satisfaction from accomplishments that are closer to home.
After traveling to all 50 states, the Nabers set off to see Canada’s fall colors. “It had always been my dream,” she said. “The leaves were mostly yellow in British Columbia, but from Ontario on it was a blaze of glory.”
In 2014, she traveled to Bodega Bay to eat a meal at the Boat House, her family’s favorite restaurant. She also treasures the small joys of weekly visits from her great-grandchildren: rescuing toilet paper from Emmett, a mischievous 1-year-old, and receiving wildflower bouquets from Kaydence, 3.
Now Naber has her sights set on performing a show with her puppet, Daisy, for the children’s kindergarten classes — a goal that will be delayed two years until Kaydence is old enough to enroll, and four years for Emmett.
GINNY SIMMS, Napa
Ginny and Warren Simms spent 58 years together in Napa, raising a family and working — Ginny as a land preservation activist and Warren as her charming supporter.
Near the end of their 64-year marriage, they began dreaming about a South American getaway.
“We wanted to go to Chile, cross the Andes and see Iguazu Falls in Argentina,” recalls Ginny Simms, 87, “but Warren’s health wasn’t strong enough for that trip.”
He died in 2013 at age 90, and last October, Simms made the trip.
“I went there with Road Scholars and had a great experience,” she said. “I saw Chilean rodeo horses in training to run sideways, ‘German’ villages in the farm country in Chilean Patagonia, firefighter companies in Valparaiso made up for Germans and Italians, and even walked over a lava flow to catch our bus.
“The highlight, of course, was Iguazu Falls. It is gigantic and is at a junction of rivers in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. There is a long paved walkway of over a mile that crosses small parts of the falls on open metal sidewalks, a bit scary, but thrilling.”
With that dream fulfilled, Simms said, “I can go shopping for a lounge chair.”
STEVE KROYER, Napa
After serving 14 years on the bench, Napa County Superior Court Judge Steve Kroyer retired in 2011, leaving time to pursue his own aspirations last year.
“Ever since I watched Nicholas Cage and Cher in ‘Moonstruck,’ I’ve always wanted to splurge on a box seat at the opera,” Kroyer said.
“So on my 64th birthday, I dressed to the nines and sat in Box W, Seat 1 at the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House and enjoyed Giuseppe Verdi’s ‘La Traviata.’
“It was magnificent and utterly magical.”
LUCIE DEMORET JENSEN, Healdsburg
Lucie Demoret Jensen’s bucket list began a little earlier than most. She started planning her escape from the Kansas plains when she was just 2 and confined to the family’s yard.
“My parents had six fenced lots for Mother’s chickens, Father’s hunting dogs and for me,” she explained.
At 4, she traveled to Lake Michigan with her uncle, and at 16 went on the European “Grand Tour,” a rite of passage.
During the Depression, she still managed trips within California, and over the years she and her husband, Stan, visited 14 countries, including Tasmania.
Now 100 and in an assisted living facility, she travels vicariously through books and lectures and continues to “pursue her curiosity.”
“I’m interested in everything,” said Jensen, explaining her longevity. “I always want to know more. Keep your options open and take experiences as they come.”
DOROTHY SALMON, Napa
Napa business leader Dorothy Salmon has an adventurous side.
“I already went bungee jumping 250 feet from a narrow platform off a hot air balloon, dove at night with manta rays, and went zipping through the jungle at 300 feet above the ground in Mexico,” said Salmon, 67.
“I want to go skydiving before my 70th birthday and go back to India and Africa again.”
DANIS KREIMEIER, Napa
Napa County’s Director of Library Services and Community Outreach, Danis Kreimeier, has Europe on the brain.
“I want to take a barge/bike trip in Holland/Amsterdam during tulip season,” Kreimeier said. “Bike during the day through the tulips, then get on the barge at night and wake up someplace new.
“And then end the trip in Vienna, where my favorite artist, Gustav Klimt, has most of his work.”