Summer’s first weekend would have been epic for Ruben Armiñana if all the retiring president of Sonoma State University had done was act as grand marshal of the big event at Sonoma Raceway.
The track’s salute to his historic, 24-year run at SSU began with a role of honor at Friday evening’s Speedway Children’s Charities gala at Cline Cellars.
Early Sunday morning, a limo picked up Armiñana and his wife, Marne Olson, and whisked them to the raceway to greet some of the racers who readied for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Later that afternoon, the couple appeared at a special celebration of gratitude and concert at the Green Music Center, which wouldn’t exist without them. The grand send-off began with a champagne reception in the center’s Prelude restaurant.
Everyone moved from there into Weill Hall for a chamber music concert conceived and directed by Jeffrey Kahane, who also performed a piano duet with Jon Kimura Parker.
Afterward the celebration of Armiñana’s contributions to the college and community moved onto the terraced back lawn for food, wine and accolades by Rep. Mike Thompson, CSU Chancellor Timothy White, Dan Benedetti of Clover Stornetta Farms and speakers from myriad aspects of campus life at SSU.
When it came Rebecca Green Birdsall’s turn, she congratulated Armiñana and Olson on behalf of her parents, Donald and Maureen Green. It was their initial gift of $10 million two decades ago that transitioned the vision of a world-class music hall at SSU to a reality.
Birdsall told the more than 400 people present that her folks pledged another $2.5 million to the Green center’s new Ruben Armiñana and Marne Olson Endowment Fund.
The crowd’s cheer rivaled the one that came earlier that very long day when Armiñana trumpeted at the raceway, “Drivers, start your engines!”
TONY STEWART was the top winner Sunday, but not far behind him was Sheana Davis.
She’s not a race car driver but an esteemed Sonoma Valley cheese maker, chef, culinary educator and lover of NASCAR.
Davis was singled out Sunday as the race’s Nathan’s Famous “Ultimate Fan.”
She’d earlier posted on the hot dog maker’s Facebook page her recipe for bacon-wrapped Nathan’s dogs with her own cheese and homemade pickles.
Davis left the race with loot that included a $1,000 Save Mart gift card and credit for a year’s worth of her favorite hot dogs.
LONG OVERDUE: Carol Kronberg carried something to her 50th high-school reunion in Southern California:
A library book she’d checked out in 1966 from Rolling Hills High School, now called Palos Verdes Peninsula High.
Carol, a retired Sonoma County health program manager, can’t quite recall why she didn’t return author Bliss Perry’s “The American Spirit in Literature” before she graduated.
She came upon the book as she and her hubby Dave, blissfully retired after almost 32 years as the county’s general services director, emptied a bookcase they had to move.
In the midst of the 50th-year reunion, Carol found Associate Principal Micah Farrell and handed over the book. He could have computed the past-due charge but instead had Carol autograph the inside of the cover.