Remembering Al Mazza

I saw a poster this week announcing the 5th annual Al Mazza Memorial Best Ball Golf Tournament, set for Friday, May 30, at Oakmont.

The event, sponsored by the Sonoma Valley Firefighters Association, is a way to honor the memory of a great Sonoman who not only served our community as a firefighter and fire chief for 33 years, but also served two, full four-year terms on the City Council, and two times as Sonoma’s mayor. And, during that time and after his service on the council, he continued to volunteer on behalf of local nonprofits.

I knew Al as the guy who could not just sit on the sidelines and complain about the way things were. He got involved and often led the effort to make things better, including the nonprofit organizations he led.

He grew up in Sonoma Valley and graduated from Sonoma Valley High School in 1955, where he played football for the Dragons. He also served two years with the U.S. Army’s Third Armored Division, during which he was stationed in Germany.

In 1959, after returning home from the Army, Al joined the Sonoma Fire Department. He was named fire chief in 1970, and served in that position for 23 years. Despite its small size and limited budget, throughout his career Al managed the fire department as a model of best practices.

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