Chris Smith: He fly-fishes and he shoots photos, and that won him $15,000

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Fishing and shooting photos rank way up among the favorite things of Santa Rosa’s Marcel Siegle.

The professional photographer and itinerant fly fisherman combined his passions to stunning effect with his entry in the Weather Channel’s “It’s Amazing Out There” photo contest.

As the total solar eclipse approached in August 2017, Siegle lugged his camera and fishing gear to the Deschutes Rivers near Warm Springs, Oregon.

He set up for a world-class selfie. Then, just as the moon bulls-eyed the sun, he photographed himself standing in the river, clutching his fly rod and gazing at the show in the sky.

“Celestial Encounter” is what Siegle titled the photo he entered in the national contest. Of the more than 34,000 weather, nature and adventure photos submitted to the Weather Channel, the judges chose his as the best.

The photographer-fisherman’s reward: Immense satisfaction, as he dedicated the photo to his late mother, Renate — and also a Grand Prize check for $15,000.

KUDOS TO KSRO, the Sonoma County radio station never more indispensable than during the fires.

It’s been named the medium-sized radio market Station of the Year by the National Association of Broadcasters.

And Pat Kerrigan, KSRO’s a.m. news anchor, is her radio market’s Personality of the Year.

Richly deserved.

MUSIC IS MEDICINE. That’s the mantra of a thankful man who played his guitar and sang with a happy bunch of children and elders in Healdsburg days ago, and now aims to brighten lives with music in the other 49 states.

“It’s time to give back,” Ryan Brolliar said at one of Sonoma County’s most extraordinary retirement communities, the garden-blessed and kid-friendly Healdsburg Senior Living.

Brolliar, a resident of San Diego, stopped in Healdsburg last week after launching — in a converted ambulance he calls his Jambulance — a cross-country tour. He wants to sing to seniors at hospitals and nursing homes in every state, even Hawaii, to celebrate the gifts of life and music.

Brolliar’s work as a musician was derailed nearly three years ago by a tumor on his spine. Now healthy again, he drives and sings in gratitude. There’s more on his story at:

ALL HE NEEDED: How apropos that Harry Friedman’s simple, sturdy pine casket was delivered to his grave in the bed of a classic 1929 Friedman Bros. pickup.

The service at Santa Rosa’s Beth Ami Cemetery for Harry, the kid brother and partner of the founders of the Friedman’s Home Improvement retail and philanthropic empire, concluded with him being laid to rest near his parents and siblings.

Harry was born late in 1928 to a large family that struggled mightily even before the Great Depression struck in ’29 and the seven Friedman kids’ father, William, died in ’32. Harry was still in high school when he went to work at the salvage yard that brothers Joe and Benny purchased in ’46 in Petaluma.

Harry’s grave isn’t far from Benny’s, its stone engraved with the Friedman Bros. timeless slogan: “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.”

You can reach columnist Chris Smith at 707-521-5211 or

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