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My Uncle Henri loved Sonoma

Many Sonoma residents have heard of the Maysonnave House, located on First Street East directly south of Depot Park. It is now the home of the Sonoma League for Historic Preservation. In November, the Index-Tribune carried a story about plans to turn the small cottage behind the house into a vacation rental. Part of this property is also now used for bocce ball and petanque courts.

What many folks may not know is that Henri also wanted the old cottage to become a vacation rental. He told me that he felt it was a perfect location from which visitors could enjoy the community he loved. He died before that dream became fully realized.

The main house was the home of Henri’s parents, Fabien and Marguerite Maysonnave. Henri continued to live in his family home until his death in 1989.

Long before Henri bequeathed his property to the City of Sonoma and before he became the city’s second honorary Alcalde in 1977, he was my honorary uncle. In fact, I never knew him as anything but “Uncle Henri” for my entire life.

To most people who knew him, Henri was the generous and energetic volunteer for many civic and community organizations, with a record of service that went on for decades and included Hanna Boys Center, the Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Sonoma Parks and Recreation Commission, the Sonoma Community Center, the Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival Association, and many more. He was the first Sonoman named to the Hanna Boys Center board when it moved to the Valley from Menlo Park 63 years ago.

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