Obituaries
October 16, 2021

In Memoriam: John C. Gaines

September 24, 2021

April 8, 1950 – August 22, 2021

John, a dedicated labor organizer, California Homemakers Association (CHA) Organizing Committee member, poet, gourmet chef, bartender, fisherman and Cotati legend passed away at his home in Cotati, on Sunday, August 22, at age 71, after a long struggle with multiple health problems.

He was born in Indiana and graduated from Purdue University in 1972, where he studied creative writing. He later worked in a bookstore at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, where he enrolled in classes. At 26 he moved to Cotati.

John met and joined CHA at an information table in front of Oliver’s Market in Cotati in September 2013. As an organizer with CHA, he was a leader in his community, training fellow volunteers to run community canvasses to unite low-income in-home care, domestic, other service workers, and seasonal workers in the Sonoma County area. 

He was passionate about the right of each worker to have access to legal advice, preventive medical care, non-emergency dental care and other necessities. He put his passion into action. John was a mainstay with CHA’s Eleven Point Membership Benefit program, volunteering as a lay legal benefit advocate, interviewing members, and identifying their concerns and arranging for individual interviews with volunteer attorneys during CHA’s Legal Advice Sessions, coordinating transportation and following up each request to assist the member in following the instructions laid out by the volunteer attorney. After learning the steps of advocacy, John taught those skills to other volunteers, ensuring that the progress of the legal benefit was never dependent on the availability of an individual volunteer.  

John also learned and taught volunteers how to facilitate the participation of volunteer dentists, who generously provide tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of education and treatment through CHA’s free of charge non-emergency dental benefit. John personally delivered emergency food to hundreds of CHA members throughout the county as part of CHA’s emergency food benefit. He understood that taking time to see the dentist or doctor, even if there is no charge, can mean missing time from work and less pay, which can mean going without groceries. 

As a longtime resident of Cotati, active in the local business community, he brought with him a large constituency, including the mayor of Cotati, John Dell ‘Osso who from 2014 to 2019 hosted CHA’s annual holiday food distribution. John would speak to everyone he knew about the association, and he was gratified to be able to put into action his longstanding belief that he needed to do something about the problems in his community. 

During the wildfires that decimated parts of Sonoma County in October of 2017, even though the smoke in the air made him hoarse, John volunteered to coordinate the association’s Information and Referral Benefit, calling hundreds of people to direct them to shelters and other desperately needed resources when thousands were displaced.  

An eloquent speaker, John made presentations at numerous public hearings on behalf of in-home caregivers to demand living wages sufficient to cover all basic necessities. He fought to stop government officials from allowing profit-driven utility companies from raising rates when workers’ wages were so low that they were living in constant fear of having their electricity and gas shut off.  

John never let his deteriorating health stop him from finding ways to move the struggle forward, continuing to make phone calls to inspire more people to participate in organizing for a sustainable future. CHA Administrative Assistant Greg Lomakin remembered that in the last exchange he had with John, John firmly stated, “Keep fighting!” Greg assured him in his response “We will!”

John told fellow organizers about why he was a part of CHA, “The organization’s methodology is sound.  I believe it can be used to effectively establish the rightful power of the working classes and eliminate the concentration of power among an ever-smaller number of self-appointed elites.”  

John was bartender and part-owner of The Tradewinds in Cotati for nearly 30 years and was known by many in the area for his friendly and sarcastic demeanor. John also wrote a weekly “Gone Fishing” column in West County News in the mid 80s about fishing, one of his favorite activities. 

John is survived by his sisters, Jane Huber and Julie Cummins, and his brother, Joe Gaines. He is also survived by six nieces and one nephew, five great nieces and one great nephew.       

CHA honored John at a memorial service on September 19 at the Sebastopol Grange. John will be missed by members and volunteers of California Homemakers Association and his many good friends in the Sonoma County area.

Phyllis Anne Johnson July 22, 1933 – July 12, 2021

July 23, 2021

On Monday, July 12, 2021, Phyllis Anne Johnson, passed away peacefully with her children by her side. 

Phyllis was born in Vallejo, CA 1933 to the late Ella Maree Hackman and the late Milton John Hackman. 

Phyllis is survived by her daughter Melanie Taylor (husband Bob), son Robert Johnson (wife Stephanie), son Darrell Johnson (wife Claudia), son Keith Johnson, and daughter Cheryl Johnson.  She was a loving grandmother to Michael Johnson, Chuck Taylor, Patricia Cde Baca, Robert Cde Baca, Christopher Johnson, Sean Johnson, and Matthew Johnson. Great grandmother to Michaela Johnson, Riley Bennett, Kayden Douglas, Tristan Cde Baca and great great-grandmother to Chance Stroud. She was preceded in death by her husband Clinton “Bob” Johnson, and son Rickie Johnson. 

The family wishes to recognize and thank the nurses and doctors at Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital for their professional and compassionate care given to Phyllis.  

A Celebration of Life with a reception to follow will be held, Saturday, July 31, 2021, 10:30AM at the Spring Hills Community Church, 3600 Fulton Road, Fulton.  

In lieu of flowers, a memorial donation may be made to the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 293, PO Box 73, Cloverdale, CA 95425 or the American Cancer Society.

Joyce Marie Ferroni 1933-2021

July 9, 2021

Joyce Marie Ferroni, loving mom, loyal friend whose heart spilled-over with pure joy, passed away Saturday May 1, 2021. She was born to Angie and Albert Rometti on January 21, 1933, in Inverness, CA. She attended school in a one-room school house until her family moved to Mill Valley, CA where she attended Park School and graduated from Tamalpais High School. She married Louis Charles Ferroni of Mill Valley on May 20, 1951. Together, they raised seven children in a 900 square foot home that remains in the Ferroni family to this day. In 1994 Joyce moved to Cotati, CA to be closer to her only daughter and to live in a community that reminded her of Mill Valley from her childhood. Joyce was extremely gregarious, she loved reading, walking and playing cards with family and friends. She applied her fastidious care to all things that mattered most to her, her children and grand children. Joyce leaves behind her sons Jim, Edward (Mirian), Frank (Shelley), Paul, Gary and daughter Paula; seven grandchildren, plus three great grand children; preceded in death by her husband Louis and her first born John. A celebration of Joyce’s life with her family and friends will be held on Saturday, August 14th in Cotati. It is with a tremendous amount of pride and joy that we gather and celebrate Joyce’s beautiful legacy.

Jerry J Wright

May 13, 2021

JERRY J. WRIGHT 

1932-2021 Friends, family, and the entire music world mourn the loss of long-time music-man Jerry J. Wright who passed away at Kaiser Hospital in Santa Rosa on May 2, 2021 with his family by his side. Jerry was born in Portland Oregon to parents Lou and Alice. Jerry’s father was a high school band director and instilled a love of music at an early age. Jerry learned how to play the trumpet at age 5 and continued to play until his death. Jerry won several awards in high school and college where he attended the University of Oregon with a music scholarship. During his first year of college Jerry learned he was soon to be drafted and elected to enlist in the United States Navy in 1951. Jerry was stationed in San Diego and was assigned to the band. During his tour of duty Jerry was involved in preparations for the Korean War. Jerry was discharged from the Navy in 1954 with a national distinguished service medal and a good conduct medal. Jerry continued with his education attending San Diego State from 1955 to 1957. In 1957 Jerry transferred to Humboldt State to finish his music degree and teaching credential. While in Humboldt State he met the love of his life, Dawn. Jerry graduated Humboldt State in 1960 and married Dawn the same year. They were married in Eureka California and began their 62-year journey in Kelseyville, California where Jerry was the music director for the entire Kelseyville district. Jerry and Dawn had their first two children, Greg in 1961, and Andrea in 1963. Jerry accepted a junior high teaching position at Kenilworth Junior high in Petaluma in 1963 where he taught for three years. He then accepted a position as music director at Rancho Cotate high school in 1968. Shortly after accepting his teaching position at Rancho Cotate their third child Noel was born. Jerry taught band, choir, and psychology while at Rancho Cotate where he also earned his master’s degree in music administration. During his professional music teaching career Jerry’s bands earned several awards and recognition to include numerous parade trophies and honors. Jerry’s bands traveled to several locations to include Canada, Disneyland and in 1976 his high school band was selected to represent the state of California at Jimmy Carter’s inaugural parade in Washington DC. Jerry’s professional musical achievements included 43 years of teaching, 82 years of trumpet playing, 55 years of dance drums, and 32 years with the Santa Rosa Symphony. After retirement Jerry and Dawn moved to Tracy California where Jerry conducted the Tracy community band for nine years. Jerry and Dawn moved back to Santa Rosa in 2011 were Jerry lived with Dawn until his death. Jerry’s hobbies included boating where he served as Commodore of the Petaluma yacht club from 1988 to 1992. Jerry was an avid football fan of San Francisco 49ers fan and the University of Oregon. He also was a fierce advocate of patriotism. Jerry was preceded in death by his sister Barbara Averill. Jerry is survived by his wife Dawn of 62 years, his three children Greg, Andrea, and Noel. His seven grandchildren, Stefanie, Melissa, Gregory, Zach, Ryan, Anastasia, and Alex. He also had one great grandchild, Hank. Viewing will be held at Eggen and Lance Chappell in Santa Rosa on May 18 between 10 and 11. Services begin at 11 with graveside services following. In lieu of flowers, donations will be accepted to establish the Jerry Wright Memorial