Sonoma Valley lost more than its fair share of notable longtime residents in 2017. Based on comments and remembrances received from readers, we’re looking back at the lives of a few.
March 24 – Cody Cordellos
Since birth, Cody Cordellos had battled a rare genetic skin condition called Epidermolysis bullosa. He lived almost 30 years longer than expected with the painful and debilitating condition and finally succumbed to the disease at the age of 32. The disorder so severely stressed Cordellos’s system that he stood just 5 feet tall. The condition made him look and feel as though his body was covered by burns, with scabbing that never healed. The community rallied behind Cordellos with periodic fundraisers over the years to help cover his extensive medical supplies, bandaging needs and medicine. “But with everything that Cody was going through he still had an upbeat personality and he always put others before himself,” said his friend Daniel Hankins.
March 26 – Brandon Barmore
Sonoma Valley High School senior Brandon Barmore drowned in a swimming lagoon while on a Seeds of Learning service trip with classmates to Nicaragua over spring break. Barmore, just 17, was the high school’s Student of the Year for 2017, captained the track and speech forensics teams, and participated in the Mock Trial team and Model UN Club. His peers selected him “Mr. Dragon” and he was nominated as homecoming king. “He was involved in so many things. He knew almost every student on campus,” said Principal Kathleen Hawing.
June 21 – Kathy Mazza
Kathy Mazza always seemed to be part of the Sonoma landscape, whether as a volunteer or a city employee. She was the widow of former mayor and longtime fire chief Al Mazza, who she met during the time she worked at City Hall. Together the Mazzas served as the Sonoma Alcalde and Alcaldesa in 2006, receiving the official cane of office as honorary “mayors.” After she ended her 17 years in City Hall in 1997, she went on to help establish the Red and White Ball, worked with the Teen Center and the Sonoma Community Center, and was often found cooking up a pot of something for Meals On Wheels, out of the Trinity Episcopal Church across from the East Spain Street home.
Aug. 29 – Dennis O’Neil
Dennis James O’Neil was a lifelong Valley of the Moon resident, except for two years active duty in the U.S. Army. After Vietnam, he immediately started working in the Sebastiani Winery alongside August Sebastiani, who treated him as part of the family. After August died, his son, Don, took the responsibility of watching over O’Neil, who worked in his office even during Don’s time as a California assemblyman. O’Neil was great booster of Sonoma and its history, and seemed to know everyone in town. He was the youngest son of Sonoma photographer Richard O’Neil and his wife Wilma.
Oct. 17 – Carole Peccorini
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. She was one of the founders of Valley of the Moon Hospice, which eventually became Hospice By the Bay. In addition to the Lights of Remembrance tradition, she also started the Hit the Road Jack run, a hospice fundraiser. Prior to her hospice career, she 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.”