The Press Democrat remembers the 40 lives lost in the North Bay fires. Click here for more of the stories.

Veronica “Roni” McCombs was the kind of woman who would drop everything to help her family. It happened time and time again, said son Jeremy Coyle.

For Coyle, 47, it happened during one particularly stressful period about six years ago. Newly separated from his wife, he was faced with the difficult balance of caring for his young daughter while also handling a full-time job.

“I don’t know how many times I had that conversation with her, ‘How am I going to do this?’” Coyle said. “She’s like, ‘This is how you’re going to do it: I’m going to be there for you, Jeremy.’ That’s the way she was.”

And she was there. Every other week for about 18 months, when Coyle had his daughter, McCombs would drive to San Jose from her Santa Rosa home and spend Monday through Friday with them.

“That time I got to spend with my mom as an adult, and how much it meant to me that she was there to help me — she was pretty amazing to me as a son.”

Like others among her Mark West Springs neighbors, 67-year-old McCombs died early the morning of Oct. 9 while trying to escape the flames of the Tubbs fire.

“We lost somebody who wasn’t just, she wasn’t just a mom,” Coyle said. “She was somebody who, if we needed something — not if we needed something — but if we had any kind of trouble in our life at all, she was there to help us.”

Born May 28, 1950, in San Jose, McCombs spent her whole life in California — relishing its wild beauty, its hills and its valleys. That’s why she and husband Donald McCombs chose their Santa Rosa home, nestled on 5 acres atop a hill shrouded in woods. A sharp, independent and creative soul, she loved the arts and in her early years owned a shop specializing in custom clothing and design pieces.

Over the years, she used her creative talents to transform the family property into a focal piece, where holidays and graduation parties were held, and where daughter Marissa McCombs married her husband three years ago.

It was a point of pride for Veronica McCombs, who over the past decade worked as an interior designer and every season transformed her garden into something fit for a “‘Better Homes & Gardens” photo shoot, Coyle said.

“When it came to my mom and my sister, my sister was mom’s best friend and my mom was my sister’s best friend,” Coyle said. “And when it came to me, I lost my No. 1 cheerleader. She was always supporting me and always behind me on everything I did. I owe everything I have to her, so it’s really sad and difficult that she’s not here anymore to enjoy the rest of our lives together.”

In addition to her husband and two children, she is survived by a third son, Branden McCombs, of Santa Rosa, five siblings and two grandchildren.

The Press Democrat remembers the 40 lives lost in the North Bay fires. Click here for more of the stories.