These are some of the Five Star People in my life. They go beyond being good at their jobs to reach out and care for others they come in contact with. They see beyond themselves to make the world a nicer place to live in with one encouraging word, one smile, or even one hug at a time.

I’m going to make an effort to let these people know what a difference they make in my life. I’d like to do the same for them.

Dr. Mark Sedrak is a functional neurosurgeon at the Kaiser Permanente Redwood City Medical Center. More than a gifted surgeon who takes the time to explain the problem, he outlines all the possible solutions, sometimes including the reasons why no surgery might be the way to go. Simply put, he cares. He never loses sight of the fact that his patients are people. After a lenghly surgery, he took the time to visit Carlos in intensive care until he was convinced that everything went well, and continues to personally make follow up calls.

Whenever I ever have to visit the lab at Kaiser in Petaluma I am so grateful to see Maranda Domer at the sign-in desk. She unfailingly has a smile and encouraging word for me. And most of all she is a genius at dealing with the tiny veins in my arm. She seems somehow to know everyone’s name and has the knack for putting everyone, from toddlers to grandmas at ease. Bless you Miranda.

Sandy Zimmerman is a jewel in the Sonoma Education ring. A former principal for Prestwood and Flowery schools, she has had a far reaching effect in the education community. As the initial catalyst in getting the Mentor Me program started, her deep commitment to the continuing welfare of our youth continues to be manifested in her grant writing efforts. It is a privilege to know Sandy.

Michael Scorsone, Winemaker at Adobe Road Winery is congenial, talented, and focused in the way that defines people who are destined to do wonderful things in this world. There is commitment in every thing he brings into his world. Working his way from professional chef to Winemaker, Michael remains grounded in the skills it takes to meet people eye to eye, and talk openly about real life. It is a pleasure to know him.

Michael Madsen is a five-star lender, a wonderful guy who goes that extra distance for his clients. He is a consumate professional. That means constant attention to all the details that are required to shepard a deal to a successful conclusion. It means clear, communication with his clients. Most importantly—he doesn’t drop the ball. If you need a loan or refinance, call him. I think you’ll like what you hear. Michael Madsen (707) 481-2844 cell

George Bevan has a Masters in Architecture from California State Polytechnic University in Pomona (CalPoly). He received an AIA award, Henry Adams Fund recipient for Excellence in the Study of Architecture, and received his BA from the University of Oregon in Political Science: Planning Public Policy Management. But wait! there’s more: He was a Varsity Lt. Wt. Rowing State Champion. His interests include: golf, mountain biking or snow boarding. But the main thing you need to know about George is what a nice guy he is, and that he uses his talent to go that extra mile for his clients—and that qualifies him for a double 5-star rating. He also sports a spiffy website:

William T. Elliott, MD: Dr. Elliott is board certified in Internal Medicine and has 31 years of experience. He teaches, he writes, he is the Novato Kaiser Physician-in-charge, and he cares about his patients. During my recent hospital stay at the Terra Linda facility, Dr. Elliott made the time in his primary care practice and administrative duties to stop in and see how I was doing. It is difficult to put into words how comforting that visit was. Knowing that someone who cared was watching over me made the experience, and my world not so scary. I felt like I had my own Dr. Welby — not a TV doctor, but the real thing. Thank you Dr. Elliott.

Camilla Gray/Nelson of the DairyDell Doggie Dude Ranch and Training Center radiates so much positive energy we should hook her up to the California power grid. A life-long animal person, Camilla’s natural style of dog training and voice control reflect the deep-seated affection she and her staff exhibit not only in their work with their furry charges, but the also in the amazing facility on the outskirts of Petaluma. She has been featured in many newspaper and magazine articles as well as TV appearances. An accomplished writer and trainer, Camilla also can be seen riding in the arena adjacent to the well named doggie dude ranch that includes grooming and boarding in wine country style.

Did you know that heros walk among us? They don’t wear capes or spandex tights with nifty logos, but they do sport halos (visible only to those deemed worthy). Mandy Kirk is one of those special beings. Mother of two very charming girls and married to the most even-tempered man I’ve ever met, she recently completed her dual teaching credential for Special Ed and Science from Dominican. Although this note is about Mandy, it is not for her. It is a reminder for the rest of us, that even though the bad guys dominate the headlines, when we try to be our best selves, we are not alone. Walking across the plaza, or standing in line at the bank, or shopping for groceries, without even knowing it, we walk among heros.

In these times when going formal means adding a pair of black socks to the Hawaiian shirt, shorts and sandals ensemble, Earl Shuttleworth, Manager/Partner of the Frank Howard Allen Realtors office in Sonoma is a beacon of civility, consideration, effective business management, personal warmth and sartorial elegance. A gentleman to the core, he never the less, has managed the Sonoma office, located in the Sebastiani Theater building, with the firm hand necessary to successfully navigate a competitive, service-oriented business in these, by any measure, extraordinary times. His professional guidance and support are the mark of a 5-star manager.

Marjorie Helm is a Petaluma Co-chair of the El Dia de los Muertos, “Memories Of The Heart/Recuerdos Del Corazón”, Oct 17 - Nov 2. A member of the Petaluma Arts Council, has hosted, in her home, community leaders and artists, supports the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin, headed Mental Health, Youth and Family Services in Sonoma County, has a private practice as a Consultant and Coach, has a BS in Psychology, and a Master’s in Social Work. At her last birthday party it seemed about half of Petaluma was there to celebrate their deep affection for her. I have known Margie for a number of years and I tell you this, she is one of the most warm-hearted people you will ever meet.

Gail McGuffey is a gold medalist dressage rider, competition dressage and jumping teacher and sells sport horses (and excels at matching the personality of horse to the buyer) at the Riverside Equestrian Center in Petaluma. She can be reached at 707 481-5512. Gail has been giving riding lessons to Emma since she was 3 or 4 years old. While Em loves the riding and Gail’s students win lots of medals and gain a certain confidence that comes with mastery of any skill, it is the involvement with something outside themselves, beyond the mall shopping or the online gaming that is her greatest gift to her students. That goes for her adult students as well as the younger ones.

Kaeti Bailie is the owner of Artifax on the Sonoma Plaza. Most people who wander in think it’s just a store with a lot of very cool stuff. Amazing stuff really. Her business card says hand-crafted gifts, unique jewelry and clothing, art, antiques and rare artifacts from around the world. And it is all that. But it is so much more than the casual walk through reveals. To Kaeti, it is Pavoratti singing opera, it is Baryshnikov dancing ballet, it is the Dalai Lama smiling. To Kaeti, it is Kaeti doing exactly what she wants to do—now, here. And when we walk into her store, we are sharing it with her. She makes me feel like a guest she has especially invited over to see something wonderful.

The entire staff at Noah’s Bagels in Petaluma is efficient and polite. And I’m sure the regulars who sit at the table near the window every morning for a coffee and nosh each have their favorite. But for me, two, Rachel and Michael are, hands down, the best. They greet me, by name, when I’m in line. They remember what I usually order, and… and this is the best part, they smile like they’re happy I walked in the door. That’s beyond service. It’s what the world needs now. And a lot more of it.

Eleanor Perkiss is a teacher at Mary Collins Elementary School in Petaluma. She has two children: a son who is student teaching in San Francisco (not for the faint of heart) and a biologist daughter. When I asked about the picture of her son, taken at about age 9 or 11, that is taped to a file cabinet next to her desk, she said, “ I keep it there to remind me to treat these children with tenderness — because that’s how I hope people will treat him.”

Denise Mucci, escrow/title officer with First American Title Co. is one of the unsung heros of a successful real estate transaction. Her sense of humor, attention to detail and professional experience can make the difference between a bumpy ride and a deal where things just seem to fall into place. When things get complicated, I can always trust that Denise is on the job, communicating and caring about my clients.

Alina Garcia, the force behind the historic bar/restaurant/dancehall, Little Switzerland in Sonoma is doing a couple of wonderful things for us. She not only is keeping the traditional Sunday polka/ballroom dances going (the place was established in 1906), she has expanded the venue to include Tango, Latin, Blues and Zydeco nights. If you’re looking for a fun night out, check out the calendar at

Jeanne at Chico’s knows the classic style I wear and keeps an eye out for pieces of clothing I might like. She knows her product and instinctively presents me with a selection that makes me want them all. Leaving the store, whether I have maxed out the charge card or bought nothing at all, I leave feeling I’ve been served, not sold.

Trips to the Cottage Gardens in Petaluma are a regular weekend pilgrimage for me. And when I’m there, Fionula (she finally made it to our salsa class!) and owner Daria, offer expert advice selecting plants, help diagnose plant pathogens and offer suggestions to help my garden bloom, all with personal warmth and attention.

Judy Theo, artist and owner of Red Wolf Gallery in Sonoma ( She not only goes the extra step to provide that personal touch to her customers, she supports young, aspiring artists. As one teacher/artist explained it, “Judy gives from the heart.”

I know there are many excellent restaurants in Petaluma but two of the reasons I return again and again to Dempsey’s are Ryan and Ashley. These waitpersons are consummate professionals who greet customers they recognize by name, can characterize menu items and are Johnny-on-the-spot with service throughout the dining experience. It’s a blend of personal charisma and professional excellence that makes them a joy to be around.

Dan Stolz is, on the surface, the all American, good looking, forever young, boy next door tennis pro. But watching him with my daughter on the tennis court, it dawns on me that he is teaching her life lessons —about recovering from missed opportunities —about the power of visualizing goals —about focusing on a positive mental approach —about taking responsibility for her own actions and moving on. Tennis for Dan is simply a way to help people learn about themselves. And he does it with grace, patience, and generosity.

Marty of Marty’s Home Health Care is a charismatic, big sister you never had but wish you did. Her positive attitude burns like the North Star —constant, guiding, dependable. After I had been down with a cold for a few days, she showed up at my door with dvd, soup, pizza, flowers, orange juice and advice: “Get back to bed!”—that kind of big sister. After a career of taking care of people at 30,000 feet as an airline stu, she now looks after people who need the assistance of someone dependable with both feet firmly on the ground. A more caring, ebullient, red-headed angel you will never find.

Dan Williges at Math Passion is a get the job done sort of guy—a CEO kind of guy, but’s not until you see him tutoring the kids that you realize what a warm and fuzzy, funny guy he is. For some people it’s sports, or music, or theater—for Dan, it’s math, and his art is nurturing and allowing a child’s inner math passion to bloom. Like all really gifted teachers he is able to communicate his enthusiasm for the subject and has dramatically raised my daughter’s math skills. She sums it up as “Dan rocks!”

If I were to sing the praises of my assistant, Theresa Lucia, it would have to be an opera—make that a rock opera, because Theresa rocks. She rules. She is my support, my friend, my colleague, and in my quest to make the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, my walking buddy. Ok. So maybe she didn’t exactly volunteer for that last role—but when I need her—she shows up. If on occasion she needs to contact you in my place, you can be assured that she is competent, professional, knowledgeable, experienced and will do her utmost to solve whatever problem she is presented with in a courteous manner, even in the most demanding of situations. Thank you Theresa.

P.S. If you have some Five-Star People in your life that you’d like to share, please drop me a note at

Sheila Deignan, REALTOR®, SRES, EcoGreen Certified Realtor |
| 707 364-1179 |