David Aggio

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Dozens of family and friends this week remembered David Aggio as the father who never missed his kids' sporting events, the parole officer who was loved by colleagues and respected by parolees, the gym rat who worked out seven days a week, the idol of his younger brother, the star high school quarterback, the best friend ever and the neighborhood guy who inspired local kids to be better and reach higher.

The 54-year-old Rohnert Park resident, who was killed Saturday in a car wreck in Bakersfield, was remembered this week by friends, family and colleagues, for touching the lives of everyone he met.

"This man was my soul mate, my teammate, my partner," said his wife, Kathleen Aggio, who was in the car with Aggio and suffered minor injuries.

"He was absolutely devoted to his kids," said Kandace Millhouse, his first wife and mother of his two children, Kayla, 20, a sophomore wrestler and kinesiology major at Oklahoma City University, and Julian, 27, a pre-med student at Chico State and also a former star high school wrestler.

"He was my whole world," said Kayla, the Rancho Cotate graduate who is the Redwood Empire's most decorated female wrestler. The collegiate All-American said her success was in large part due to the support of her father, a constant presence at all her meets. "He would text or call us every day. He wouldn't be able to sleep unless we got back to him."

David Aggio spent three decades working for the state Department of Corrections, first as a guard at San Quentin and, until his retirement last year, as a parole agent in Santa Rosa and Eureka, where he had returned to fill in on a part-time basis.

He was in Bakersfield with his wife when his Ford Explorer was struck by a driver police suspect may have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol. An investigation is ongoing, and no arrests have been made.

Aggio's extended family, law enforcement colleagues and workout buddies said they are struggling to find meaning in the death of the man they called "solid" and "honorable," who they said would do anything for someone in need.

"It's a big, big loss," said Pervis Alexander, Aggio's supervisor in the Eureka office and a friend since 1999 when the two were in training together. "I won't lie to you. When I heard about it, I cried on Saturday, I cried on Sunday and I cried on Monday. It's going to take a long time to get over this."

Alexander and others who worked with Aggio said he was widely liked, not only by people who knew him but even by his parolees.

"He was fair, a straight-shooter," said former San Quentin guard Kent Armbright of Petaluma, who said he had known Aggio since the two played football against each other in high school. He fought back tears as he described the loss of the man he called his "best friend, basically, the best friend a man could have."

Born in Petaluma to Sam and Dorothy Aggio on the dairy farm the family owned, David was the middle of three children, prone to mischief from an early age, said his aunt Christine Aggio, who is married to Sam's brother Levio.

"We lived next door to the family when David was little," she said. "One evening just before dinner, I looked out the kitchen window and I saw the tractor going by with David behind the wheel. He was only 2 years old."

His uncle stopped the tractor before David hurt himself, but the incident proved a precursor for a man who, when he had a goal in mind, worked until he achieved it.

Aggio was a star athlete for Rancho Cotate, including as a two-way player for the football team where he was a starter at quarterback and defensive back.

He became obsessed with diet and exercise and, in his 20s, won titles as an amateur competitive weightlifter in the 198-pound class, said Ken Aggio, his younger brother.

"He was my big brother and my idol," he said. "For us to lose him like this is just senseless."

Friends and family described how Aggio introduced youngsters to working out and mixed martial arts, or helped them train for wrestling and other sports.

Marin County Sheriff's Captain Rick Navarro, who lives in Rohnert Park, wrote in an email that Aggio not only helped his son, Anthony, as a wrestler but taught Rick to be calmer as he watched his son's matches.

"As I sit here in tears writing this email I know I am in a better place for the time I spent with Dave," Navarro wrote.

While Aggio didn't write to his children often, he had sent a letter to Kayla just a few days before his death.

In it, she said, he wrote: "I love you and I miss you. I just pray that you are safe and happy and school goes well for you. You have two years left at that school and then you will be on to your next adventure in life. Life is good and God is great. I love you and always will."

Kayla said she's been carrying the handwritten letter since she received it.

"We talked about this stuff when my (grandmother) was dying," she said. "He wanted me to know it would all be OK."

In addition to his wife, children, brother and mother, Aggio is survived by sister Debbie Fairbrook of Carmichael and stepchildren Kaitlyn and Braden Avery, as well as numerous extended family.

A visitation will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday at Parent-Sorensen Mortuary, 850 Keokuk St., Petaluma. A vigil service will follow at 7 p.m. at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, 4595 Snyder Lane in Rohnert Park. A funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Rohnert Park church.

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