Chris Smith: On Sonoma County dad’s wish list: a heart and a liver

The Tin Man knew for sure he had a heart when he felt it break for Dorothy. A Montgomery High and SSU alum by the name of Christopher Bowers is keenly aware of his heart because doctors tell him it really has to go.

His liver, too.

A musician and social worker until complications of a congenital birth defect drained away his oomph, Bowers is right now at the hospital at Stanford University. He hopes to get on the waiting list for a double transplant, but first the medical staff must get a handle on what’s damaging his kidneys.

“They said I’m one of the most complex patients they’ve ever had,” said Bowers, who’s 45 and lives in west Sonoma County with his wife, Jen Parr, and their son of nearly 2, Rylan.

The family is asking for help to cover the extraordinary costs that come with splitting their time between greater Sebastopol and Palo Alto, and with preparing for all that’s involved in transplant surgery to replace Bowers’ heart and liver.

An online appeal at Help Hope Live seeks to attract $75,000 that Christopher and Jen, who works as a hospice social worker, can use for living expenses, medical care copays and such. You can read more by clicking here.

Bowers said from bed at Stanford he’s hugely grateful for all the help and encouragement he and his family have received as he awaits the transplants that he hopes will go a long way toward restoring his health and vitality.

As thankful as he is for what everybody at the hospital on the Peninsula is doing for him, he longs to be back where he belongs.

“I just can’t imagine leaving Sonoma County,” Bowers said. “I have such a home there.”


CRASH! And there went a picture window at Hot Couture, the vintage clothing shop that Marta Koehne has operated in Santa Rosa’s Railroad Square since about this time in long-ago 1983.

The pavement was slick as a young driver attempted a left-hand turn from W. Third Street onto Wilson. Thank goodness, no one was hurt when the car jumped the curb and plowed into Hot Couture.

When plywood went up over the point of impact, Marta didn’t see plywood. She saw a bare canvas.

She went onto Instagram to alert artists that suddenly there was nice, big space in Railroad Square crying out for a mural. She connected with some creative types and chose to have artist and art teacher Rachel Corn-Hicks come over and have some fun with the post-crash patch of wood.

“I am thrilled to death,” Marta said as she beheld Corn-Hicks’ artwork, a spacey and playful scene of an astronaut’s helmet shield reflecting a couple dancing on the moon.

Marta is so pleased, she intends that the shattered picture window won’t be replaced any time soon. Instead she’ll remove the plywood and give it to Corn-Hicks, then have another sheet go up and let another artist have at it.

Smashing idea.

You can contact Chris Smith at 707 521-5211 and

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