Relatives aren’t sure exactly when George Chaney and Edward Stone first laid eyes on each other, but a cousin of Stone’s says it was sometime several decades ago, when his mother had cancer. Chaney, a Napa radiologist, was one of her doctors.
Stone was still quite young at the time — probably in his 20s, said Stone’s cousin Sharon Ardell of Monterey. By all accounts, Chaney and Stone began a long and fruitful relationship spanning homes in San Francisco, Napa Valley and Palm Springs as well as travels abroad.
“There was a lot of laughter, humor and they certainly supported each other for many, many years — stood by each other forever,” said Paula Chaney, George Chaney’s niece. “I just always thought of them as a team and never questioned anything else. They completed each other.”
George Chaney, 89, was a retired doctor who grew up in Austin. After graduating from the University of Texas medical school in Galveston in the 1950s, he came to Northern California, where he completed his residency in radiology at UCSF, according to an obituary from his former colleagues.
Chaney settled in the Napa Valley to work at the then-new Queen of the Valley Medical Center and help launch what would become the Radiology Medical Group of Napa. Over the course of more than four decades, he helped the radiology group become more specialized, focusing in particular on “academic and technical excellence,” the obituary said.
“I always looked up to him as being very intelligent, smart, top of his game for his professional abilities,” Paula Chaney said. “I could tell that he was well respected and knew that, in the medical world, he was very sharp.”
Stone, 78, was a native of Massachusetts who moved to Southern California as a young man before heading north for college and eventually going to work for Wells Fargo in San Francisco, according to friends and family.
Nancy Royals, who knew Stone for more than 30 years after meeting him while working together at Wells Fargo, characterized him as a widely respected businessman and “one of a kind” person who was “all about friendship.”
Stone was a kind of ambassador for San Francisco who loved commuting to work on foot from his Embarcadero home, Royals said. If a friend or colleague saw Stone on the street and offered to drive him, he’d usually opt to continue walking.
He never put on airs or turned his nose down at anyone, said Royals, who now lives in Arizona.
“Everyone was the same to him,” she said. “He didn’t have any people who were more important than others.”
Chaney and Stone had a second home in Palm Springs where they would spend several months each year, Ardell said.
But they died in the Napa County home they shared on Atlas Peak Road overlooking the Silverado Resort. The area was hit hard as the Atlas fire swept through the region.
The pair’s remains were found at what was left of a shower, where they had possibly gone in an attempt to stay wet and cool as flames and smoke encroached, Paula Chaney said.
“From what I understand, the fire was coming from their only way out of the property,” she said. “It was a large shower with multiple heads, jets, lots of water, so I figured that was the best they could do … We just all choose to believe — and everybody seems to back this up — that they were overcome by smoke first.”