Santa Rosa man found dead at site of fire-burned home
A well-known dentist who lost his home in last month's firestorms returned to the ruins of his rural Santa Rosa neighborhood and apparently took his own life, officials said Monday.
The death of Greg Peter Mlynarczyk, 70, stunned patients and colleagues, who praised his contributions to the community and his friendly, caring approach to other people in his life.
“I can attest to the fact that this was one good guy,” said Barry Schmidt, a retired family dentist who lives in Santa Rosa's Oakmont neighborhood.
“I just absolutely cannot believe it,” Schmidt said. “This is something that is totally unexpected. He's a super good guy, really sharp.”
Mlynarczyk was found at 10 a.m. Saturday by his wife and an insurance adjuster at his burned-out home on Amber Lane, northeast of Fountaingrove, said Sgt. Spencer Crum, a spokesman for the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office. He had shot himself with a handgun, Crum said.
Family members declined to comment Monday, requesting privacy and time to inform his patients. A woman who answered the phone Monday at Mlynarczyk's office on Sonoma Avenue also declined to comment. A call to the Redwood Empire Dental Society was not returned.
Mlynarczyk was an active member of the community, serving on the boards of Becoming Independent and the North Bay Regional Center for Developmental Disabilities for several years, according to the website for his dental practice, Santa Rosa Dentistry.
He was a longtime member of the Sonoma County Trailblazers, a group of horse riders, and enjoyed the “camaraderie of this group on the trail ride or at the hog feed,” according to his website. He and his wife, Laura, were members of the Wild Oak Saddle Club and Fountaingrove Athletic Club.
“This community has been so good to us, and we care very much about our friends and our patients,” he wrote on his website.
As news of Mlynarczyk's death spread online Monday, patients and friends began expressing their grief, often in disbelief.
On the Santa Rosa Firestorm Update page, one former patient recalled how Mlynarczyk worked on her teeth that had been knocked out around Halloween. The dentist handed her a fake bloody finger, asked her to put it on and to point it at him if he hurt her.
“He made me laugh so hard and got me through some rough times while in his care,” wrote the former patient. “Greg will be sorely missed.”
Originally from Las Vegas, Mlynarczyk received his undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Oregon, with a special focus on research. He then attended the University of Southern California School of Dentistry.
The website for his practice states that Mlynarczyk is a member of the professional advisory board of the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance, a national organization aimed at improving the lives of those affected by the genetic disorder.
For years, Mlynarczyk was a member of the Redwood Empire Dental Society peer review board, contributing to research that was published in the Journal of Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology and Oral Surgery. That work has been cited in the American Medical Association journal and medical textbooks.
Mlynarczyk enjoyed scuba diving, cross-country skiing, trips with his family and body-surfing, according to his website, which noted he was a loyal Oregon Duck and USC Trojan football fan. He and his family also were supporters of the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University, where they enjoyed listening to performances by the Santa Rosa Symphony and others.
Kellie Lennon, 40, of Santa Rosa, who went to high school with some of Mlynarczyk's children, remembered the dentist as a jovial man who always made her feel like she mattered.
“He was always so happy, he really was, and he was very supportive,” Lennon said, adding that she often spent time with his children at his home and never felt unwelcome.
“I was just this teenage goofball in his house and he would joke with me and have these candid real conversations,” she said. “It made me feel like I mattered as a teen.”
Lennon said she last saw him at her high school reunion in 2014. “He was just the same - happy, smiley, big hugs and full of love,” she said.
You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 707-521-5213 or firstname.lastname@example.org.