Former Sonoma Valley High School English teacher Linda Paieri Dillon passed away on Saturday, Feb. 9, after a long battle with cancer. She was 56.

Dillon worked for the Sonoma Valley Unified School District for more than 20 years and taught English at SVHS from 1991 until 2016.

She grew up in Petaluma and graduated from Petaluma High School and U.C. Davis. She began her teaching career in Long Beach before being hired in Sonoma by former SVHS principal Ralph Hahn.

“Linda was a rare and loving person, an amazing teacher who brought joy and enthusiasm to her students,” said colleague Allison Manchester, who chairs the English Department at SVHS. “She instilled a love for learning and successfully bridged middle school students to the high school.”

“Linda was a huge part of the Sonoma community,” added SVHS teacher Leslie McLean, who was also Dillon’s roommate at Davis. “She was one of the kindest women. She was slow to anger and quick to forgive. Full of patience, she had a special gift for ninth graders and managed to be both a strong academic teacher and a gentle role model. She was a devoted daughter, mother, colleague, teacher and friend.”

Dillon is remembered by many students for her freshman year time capsule assignment, which seniors open and discuss immediately prior to graduation.

McLean said that Dillon’s many friends came out in full force to support her when she learned she had cancer, some former students arranging and paying for travel costs.

“Although gentle, Linda was incredibly strong and persistent and fought against the cancer with enormous energy,” said McClean. “She will be missed terribly.”

Dillon is survived by her father and her two children, Christina and Mike, and two grandchildren.

Services for Linda Dillon are scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 16 at noon at St Vincent de Paul Church at 35 Liberty St. in Petaluma.