Meet Sonoma’s biggest 49er fan
DON BETTENCOURT, arguably Sonoma’s biggest San Francisco 49er fan, shows off just a sliver of his extensive memorabilia collection.
When you get to Don Bettencourt’s house, you’re greeted with a bright 49er doormat, giving you just the smallest taste of what’s to come.
Once inside, his home reads like a gift shop at Candlestick Park – 49er logos adorn nearly everything, from his coffee table to a can of Bud Light to Christmas decorations to a foot-tall Pez dispenser. Even his toilet paper pays homage to his all-time favorite team.
“It’s all I get for gifts anymore, Niners stuff,” he chuckled. And that’s just fine with him, he’s happy to continue to add to his collection.
The pride of his display is the 49er Super Bowl plaque, commemorating the teams first five Super Bowl wins, that he received at his retirement party after 30 years of service with the Sonoma Police Department in 1990, during which all of the servers wore Niners T-shirts. His other favorite memento is the signed Joe Montana jersey he got when the football legend made a visit to Sonoma in 1990 to sign autographs.
“I headed his security team when he was here,” Bettencourt said. “And my wife, she jumped up on a table to get that (autograph) for me.”
Although he was born in Oakland, Bettencourt became a 49er fan as a child, and has remained an avid supporter of the team, although he never really played the sport. “Football I didn’t try because I would have gotten killed,” he said. “I was just 136 pounds when I registered for the draft when I was 18.”
He’s never been big about going to games, and has always preferred watching them in the comfort of his home, surrounded by his plethora of memorabilia. Back in the day, he would deck out his entire house with Niners gear for any big game.
“We did it up. I had banners go across the front and out onto the lawn,” he said, adding that at 78 he’s no longer up for that level of fandom. “Those were the younger days. I don’t tinker around on ladders anymore.”
This Sunday, Bettencourt will be parked at home to watch the 49ers head to their sixth Super Bowl, this time against the Baltimore Ravens. He’s hoping for a quiet afternoon without phone calls and visitors so he can really watch the game.
“Since his hearing started to go, he doesn’t like the chatter,” said Joy Stovall, who fondly refers to herself as his “shack-up.” “We don’t dare talk much because he’s concentrating on that TV.”
When asked if she’s on board with living in a 49ers gift shop, complete with a bedroom painted red and gold, Stovall just smiles. “There’s a couple of flower pillows on the bed too, I had to have that femininity, otherwise it’s just fine.”