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Jeanette Marie Bair
February 3, 1964 ~ April 30, 2023 (age 59) 59 Years Old
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She was vibrant, she was kind, she was dramatic, she was fiercely independent.
We are terribly saddened by the passing of our dear Jeanette. Hers was a challenging life, but she lived it with gusto, with flair, and with a deep and oft-expressed loyalty to family, friends and to her beloved Sonoma Valley.
Born on February 3, 1964, in Campbell, California, to Russ & Peggy Bair. The family moved to Sonoma in 1969, when Jeanette was just 5 years old. This is where she and her older brother, James, grew up, the place she always returned to, where she felt most at home.
From 1st grade through high school, Jeanette attended Froebel School, an alternative school that her parents helped found. The school’s emphasis on individualism and self-expression encouraged her interest in theatre and dance, and this was the path that defined her early years. She trained at the American Conservatory Theatre’s Young Conservatory in San Francisco, appearing in three consecutive seasons of ACT’s A Christmas Carol. During this period she also immersed herself in a rigorous jazz dance training and performance schedule at the Sonoma studio of Lynn Brilhante. Jeanette LOVED jazz dance – the music, the movement, the chance to perform.
After high school she threw herself into the theatre program at Indian Valley Community College, while continuing to dance and perform in Sonoma and San Francisco. She married briefly in 1991 to Bill Wright, a member of the Indian Valley arts community. But that independent streak won out, and the marriage did not last. In the ensuing years she juggled jobs, dance, theatre, dividing time between Marin and San Francisco. In 1995, at the invitation of a friend, she moved to Fort Meyers, Florida, where she worked in hospitality for 12 years, before returning to Sonoma in 2007.
On her return she was back ‘in the fold’ of home and family, though her demand for privacy and autonomy was unchanged. She took some time to figure out what was next and when she did, she began volunteering at Sonoma’s Pets Lifeline. She was eventually offered a paid position, and worked at PLL for 12+ years, until just before she passed away.
In childhood animal care was an expected part of daily chores on the family’s small farm. But in adulthood, Jeanette found a passion and a purpose in caring for animals. Her own pets, the animals she cared for daily and her colleagues at PLL became the center of her universe. She loved the intimacy and familiarity of Valley living, the measured proximity to family, and the privacy and autonomy that were afforded by her position at PLL and her small cottage on Arbor Avenue.
On her last Christmas (her favorite holiday), Jeanette made an uncharacteristic proclamation to the family: she had decided that she was going to ‘put family first’, that her relationships with us mattered deeply and she was going to prioritize time together. This commitment was real, a palpable difference to those of us who loved her. She acted on her word and our lives were the richer for it.
Jeanette is survived by her father, Russ, her brother, James, her much beloved nephew, Alexander, and long-time family friends, Jan and Ed Davis. Her mother, Peggy, preceded her in death. Jeanette passed on Peggy’s birthday - April 30th. The family’s memorial service for her will be held on the anniversary of Peggy’s passing – May 17th, 1:00pm, at Park Creek Village, Andrieux Street, Sonoma. In lieu of flowers, nothing would make Jeanette happier than donations made to Pets Lifeline.