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Family mourns man believed to have died in Santa Rosa-area house fire

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A man found dead in his rural home west of Santa Rosa early Wednesday after it was engulfed by flames was a native Sonoma County resident who acquired a strong work ethic after a childhood of working on his parents’ dairy farm, family said.

Santa Rosa resident Mike Marino, 38, said he had no doubt the body found in the Duer Road home was that of his father, 71-year-old Dennis Marino, who lived alone in the house.

His family was awaiting official confirmation from the Sonoma County Coroner’s Office. The identification process, which involves a review of dental records, was not completed Friday, Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Spencer Crum said.

Nevertheless, Mike Marino and other relatives mourned Dennis Marino, who was remembered as a hardworking man and an enthusiastic Oakland Athletics fan. He enjoyed taking his son and daughter, Kelly Carlson, 40, of Santa Rosa, on trips to see the team play when they were children, Mike Marino said. His father was known to crack jokes and was not shy about “taking the stage” wherever he went, Marino added.

“He had a great sense of humor,” Marino said. “He could make anyone laugh.”

Dennis Marino was the eldest of three brothers who were tasked with helping at the family’s Sebastopol dairy ranch at a young age, said cousin Leona Marino. The kids’ parents, Estelle and Frank Marino, ran the Exchange Bank Dairy on Llano Road beginning in 1952 until relocating to Kelly Ranch on Sebastopol Road three years later, a 2016 obituary for Estelle Marino said. In 1977, the city of Santa Rosa bought the ranch’s property through eminent domain, the obituary said.

“All of the boys would milk the cows twice a day,” Leona Marino said. “They’d start milking the cows at 1 in the morning, 2 in the morning.”

After graduating from Analy High School sometime in the 1960s, Dennis Marino became a roofing contractor and owned his own roofing business, his son said. Dennis Marino retired about a decade ago, and moved into the Duer Road home after his mother’s death in 2016, family said.

He remained active, making almost daily walks into downtown Sebastopol from the rural home to pick up groceries, Mike Marino said.

“I know he was getting older, but it wasn’t his time,” Marino said.

Dennis Marino is survived by his two younger brothers, Richard and Raymond Marino; his two children; and six grandchildren, Mike Marino said. No funeral plans were made as of Friday, he added.

The Rincon Valley Fire Protection District did not return a call about the investigation into the Duer Road house fire by Friday afternoon, though the agency initially said electrical wiring was suspected. Neighbors reported the blaze at about 5:15 a.m. Wednesday and crews extinguished the fire within about 10 minutes of their arrival, though the home was badly damaged, fire personnel said.

You can reach Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez at 707-521-5203 or nashelly.chavez@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @nashellytweets.

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