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Sonoma remembers Carole Peccorini

Thirty-two years ago it was Carole Peccorini’s idea to illuminate an evergreen tree on the Plaza with white lights during the holiday season, a glowing tribute to those who had passed away. This year the tree will shine brightly in Peccorini’s honor.

Peccorini was one of the founders of Valley of the Moon Hospice, which eventually became Hospice By The Bay. For more than 10 years, starting in the early 1980s, she diligently led the organization that provides palliative care at the end of life. In addition to the Lights of Remembrance tradition, she also started the Hit the Road Jack run, a hospice fundraiser and longtime Sonoma event.

Prior to her hospice career Peccorini was a pediatric nurse, and in recent years led workshops and travel excursions through her company Big Ideas and Rich Conversations with Women, which encouraged women “to discover and nourish who they truly are.” She was a mentor to many and enjoyed a wide circle of friends in Sonoma and throughout the world.

“Carole is a wonder. She is a woman of truth who knew how to speak her mind from her soulful self,” her husband Francisco Peccorini said, still struggling to refer to his wife of 35 years in the past tense. She died Oct. 17, at age 74, after a five-year struggle with pancreatic cancer. A celebration of her life was held last weekend in Petaluma at a site Carole chose in advance because of a massive piece of iron artwork by John Parulis that reads “Truth.”

Carole was an artist and lover of art, and the home she and Francisco shared is filled with her paintings and the work of others she admired. She also enjoyed cooking and fine food, and loved the garden where she and Francisco tended roses, bougainvillea and hibiscus. For several years she wrote a blog, Conversations that Matter, where she shared in her bio, “I tend my own hearth and keep the embers glowing. I lead women to discover their touch of greatness and their gifts.”

Her celebration was attended not only by her family, but also by close to 200 people, many of whom were women who attended her workshops and became friends. Three of her most popular blogs were read at the event, where memories of her life and contributions were gathered on memory boards and prayer flags wafted in the sunshine.

She was especially close to her daughter Chalon Bridges and she and Francisco shared seven grandchildren who were a focal point in their lives. “We didn’t give them presents, we gave them experiences,” Francisco said, remembering all the trips and adventures, and how they never missed the kids sporting events when they were growing up.

“Carole always believed in integrity, kindness, good values and generosity,” Francisco said. “She hated small talk and chit chat. She always liked quality conversation. She loved life, she would say that over and over.”

She was happiest when engaged with others, and was always reaching out to help. “She always had a strong sense of community spirit,” he said.

Carole and Francisco were evacuated for six days during the October wildfires when their house was without power. It was always Carole’s wish, and a basic premise of hospice, to die at home. Nine hours after returning to her cherished home, while under the care of Hospice by the Bay, she died peacefully at home with Francisco by her side.

“I’ve had a wonderful life with a wonderful human being,” Francisco said.

The Lights of Remembrance tree-light ceremony takes place on the Plaza, in front of City Hall, Dec. 3, at 6 p.m. In addition to Carole Peccorini, Don Lyons, longtime Sonoma Valley teacher and baseball coach, and Lorraine Wedekind, one of the original Valley of the Moon hospice volunteers, will be honored.

To sponsor a tribute light in memory of a loved one contact Hospice by the Bay, 415-526-5500, or hospicebythebay.org.