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Darlene Drayson Nemer

December 27, 1929 ~ June 7, 2017 (age 87)

The Piano Brothers

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Darlene was born on a cold winter morning two days after Christmas in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. Her mother, Grace Drayson, owned a number of beauty salons and Darlene was never seen in the 1930s without a headful of blond Shirley Temple curls. Her stepfather, Dr. Ronald Drayson, was a PhD psychologist and very active in Seventh Day Adventist Universities. This resulted in a move to the United States and much travel by automobiles on two lane roads from coast to coast. Darlene acquired her lifelong love of cars and soon was able to name out loud every passing auto as a child. She learned to play piano, had her first public recital at age six and would accompany her mother as she was learning to play the violin. This early exposure to music would also become a lifelong interest. She attended the first Monterey Jazz Festival and was a regular at the Playboy Jazz Festival in the Hollywood Bowl.  

She purchased her first new car in 1950 in San Francisco, an aluminum body Jaguar XK120 which she drove top down in all types of weather. However, she traded it for a steel body XK140 due to the dents in the aluminum from exuberant Jaguar enthusiasts as they pressed against the body. She would be astounded later to see these aluminum bodied cars sell at auction for $200,000. Darlene loved to travel and enjoyed many places on most continents. She had the opportunity of living in France and Italy with her family. The European continent offered the good fortune of touring with her two young daughters, Miquette and Rhonda, in their 1960 Porche Convertible D. They were first based on the French Riviera at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and later on the Italian coast in Gaeta. Darlene loved to drive and adored both cultures, which led to many memorable road trips.

In the early 1970s, she opened  the “D. Nemer Gift Gallery” in Riverside’s Historic Mission Inn Hotel. Soon, the inventory incorporated Asian items and she moved to a larger location to feature only them. At the end of the year in December, she would travel to Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan to purchase Asian antiques that would be shipped back to California in a container. This would become her inventory for the following year. She soon became an expert in many of the antiquities and even became proficient in Chinese brush painting after studying under a master.

Darlene traveled to Sonoma in the late nineties for a wedding and decided that weekend that Sonoma Valley would become her new home.  It took a year to find the right house to purchase, but soon she had converted it with her exceptional flair with design and color to a showplace.  Her parties were legendary with a hired pianist to play the Steinway Concert Grand piano and plenty of Champagne.

Darlene’s legacy was her ability to fill any room with light from her beautiful smile, with pure grace and elegance from her gentle soul and with love from her exquisite heart.

In addition to all of her dear friends near and far, Darlene is survived by her two daughters, Rhonda and Miquette, her two grandchildren, Logan and Allegra, and her new great-grandchild, Niko, with a second great-grandchild on the way. She and her sweetheart, Rafe Tomsett, would have celebrated their 32nd year together this October.

A private inurnment will take place at the Sonoma Mountain Cemetery.

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