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Adelle Irene Cook

December 30, 1920 ~ January 15, 2018 (age 97)
 


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Adelle Irene Bortolussi was born in San Francisco on December 30, 1920, the first child of Fedele Bortolussi and Eda Bassetti Bortolussi.  Her father had emigrated from Friuli in northeastern Italy.  Her mother was born in Sonoma County to parents from Switzerland.  Adelle was close to both her maternal grandparents & her mother's siblings. 

Adelle lived in Oakland through her junior high school years with her parents and younger brother Hank.  After Prohibition was abolished & winemaking resumed in earnest, her father was offered a job as a cooper with the Italian-Swiss Colony Winery in Asti.  Adelle, the city girl, found herself enrolled in tiny Cloverdale High School.  She soon loved it and became lifelong friends with her classmates.  Some of her fondest memories were of all the gang driving down to Rio Nido & Guerneville to dance with the big bands who were featured there in the 1930s.

After high school she moved to San Francisco to be trained as a dental assistant & was soon employed there as a dental assistant & office manager.  During World War II she enjoyed dances with servicemen and met several interesting guys, but it was on a short visit back to Cloverdale that she met the love of her life, Fred Cook.  They met at a dance at the Citrus Fair.  Both were great dancers - she loved to jitterbug, but his smooth dancing won her favor.

They married and first lived in an apartment on Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco. In 1947 they had their first child, Jim, and moved to Marin City.  Their second son, Dan, was born in 1951, and the family moved to the Cook family home off Broadway below Four Corners.  Adelle found herself living in the little two-bedroom house with Fred, 2 very young sons, & Fred's parents, Fred Sr. and Mary.  During a carpenter's strike in the early 1950s, Fred built a second house on the small farm for his parents.  Soon Adelle and Mary were so close that folks around town thought that they were mother and daughter.

Adelle once again found herself living in the country and embraced life in Sonoma.  Mary Cook's big chicken yard was soon replaced in part with a huge vegetable garden & small orchard.  Steers, lambs, rabbits, & pigeons occupied the rest of the property.  Adelle either canned and froze an endless supply of home-grown vegetables, fruits, melons, and berries to keep the family well-fed year-round.  Raspberries, strawberries, and boysenberries were made into preserves or frozen for pies.  Louie Mugele's big freezer at the Four Corner's Market had a locker full of frozen beef and lamb that supplied Adelle with the source of roasts, steaks, stews, and rich Italian sauces that she created daily for her family.

Adelle, Fred, and the boys (as they always remained to her) enjoyed trips to Bolinas and Tomales to dig clams, trips to the Sonoma Coast to walk the beaches & collect shells, trips to Huntington Lake to stay with Fred's family. They all especially enjoyed an annual late summer fishing & swimming trip to Somes Bar on the Salmon River in Siskiyou County, catching salmon, steelhead, and trout – and smoking some of it.  Adelle’s trophy catch was a 36-pound salmon she landed all by herself.

          Adelle worked for many years as a cafeteria cook at Prestwood School, most as head cook.  She & one other incredibly hard-working woman, with the help of some students, somehow managed by lunch time each day to prepare full meals from scratch (including main course – pizza was always the students’ favorite – vegetable, dessert and rolls) for the entire school body.  As ever, she made life-long friendships there & would report regularly to her sons the latest news about long-ago classmates whom she would encounter on her trips around town.

After their retirement, Adelle and Fred bought a camper and, later, a very comfortable trailer and made annual summer trips to Alaska, Western Canada, and the Northwest.  They fished everywhere they went, often returning home with canned trout or razor clams.  On one occasion in Montana, Flathead Lake cherries were in season, so they bought jars and canned them.  In winters, they traveled to Mexico, visiting most of the Pacific & Gulf of California coast, as well as Guadalajara.  They always brought back lots of huge fresh-caught prawns bought right off the fishing boats and frozen for the trip home.  It was in Mexico that Adelle fell in love with hummingbirds, which she continued to feed and cherish for the rest of her life in Sonoma.  Her yard was a hummingbird haven all year.

          Adelle also enjoyed travelling with Fred several times a year to Bodega Bay, where they stayed at Doran Park or Bodega Head, usually netting rock crabs that were not canned, but often frozen.  They would work together picking the meat out of even the littlest legs to be carefully wrapped and frozen.

After Fred's death, Adelle continued to be a hardworking member of the St. Francis Church Mouse board & devoted much of her time to working at the Thrift Center in Boyes Hot Springs.  She was also on the board of the Country Meadows Homeowners' Association, where she served for many years overseeing the landscape maintenance.  She was a very close friend to her neighbor, the late Ellsmere Decter.  They would enjoy a cocktail hour together every late afternoon & not let each other get away with any nonsense.

In 1995, Adelle enjoyed an especially memorable trip, with son Dan and her granddaughter Alison, to London, Paris and Venice, with a special trip to her father's hometown, Zoppola. There she walked the town and met a cousin, Marcello, and much to her own (and Dan's and Alison's) amazement, started to speak in Friuli with him, as he did not speak English.  Though she mostly spoke English with her father as a child, she had also picked up the basics of his native Friuli from his conversations with his Old Country friends in Cloverdale and Oakland.  Soon she and Marcello were having quite the conversation in Fruili and she had a delightful day exploring Zoppola with Marcello and having a special lunch with him, enjoying a wonderful meal of homegrown foods and homemade wine.

Adelle, a Sonoma resident for over 65 years, continued to live at home without assistance until she was 96 ½ years old.  In early June of 2017 she suffered a stroke.  From that time until her death, she was resident of Vineyard Post Acute in Petaluma and quickly settled into her new home.  She recovered well there with the help of the wonderful staff who took great care of her, and made many new friends with the staff and residents.

Her last Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays with family were great occasions at her new home; she especially relished the traditional homemade cioppino at Christmas.   She also had a wonderful 97th birthday on December 30 of last year and was beaming, proud that she was still going strong after so many years and had reached such a milestone. 

Adelle died in Petaluma on January 15 after a very short illness.  She appreciated that she had been given the gift of a long life – one that was well and fully lived with joy.  She, and her sweet smile, will be greatly missed by her family and her multitude of friends from over the years. 

A celebration of life service will be held on March 3, 2018, at 12:30 p.m. at Duggan’s Mission Chapel in Sonoma.


Charitable donations may be made to:

St. Francis Solano School
342 W. Napa St., Sonoma CA 95476
Web: http://saintfrancissolano.org/

Sonoma Land Trust
822 Fifth Street, Santa Rosa CA 95404
Tel: 1-707-526-6930
Email: info@sonomalandtrust.org
Web: https://sonomalandtrust.org/give/tribute_gift.html


Memorial Service
Saturday
March 3, 2018

12:30 PM
Duggan's Mission Chapel
525 W. Napa St.
Sonoma, CA 95476


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