Aug 28, 2018
by Chuck Ramsey, Russian River Alliance
Most of you know that Suzi Schaffert, former co-owner with her husband Don, of Don’s Dogs and the Rio Theater, passed away last month from pancreatic cancer at the age of 63. A wake was held August 25th at the amphitheater.
Suzi also wrote the Monte Rio Musings column for several years. In her column dated 8/13/09 she wrote: “Here I sit, rushing with writing my column, which of course is late. By the time you read this most of the kids will be back in school and summer will be winding down as we get prepared for fall, which is my most favorite time of the year.”
She thanked the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors and the Russian River Redevelopment Agency for the $144,000.00 grant that Monte Rio Recreation & Parks just got awarded to repair and rebuild the tennis courts.
She always mentioned birthdays and anniversaries in her column. In this column she wrote, “Suzi Schaffert entering senior citizenship, 55, on Aug 25, and on Sept 23, hard to believe but Don and I will celebrate our 30 years together!”
Suzi served on the Monte Rio Recreation and Park District Board for ten years (until 2012), half of the time as Chair. Her community work was also instrumental in getting Monte Rio a renovated Community Center. I believe Monte Rio obtained most of the Russian River Redevelopment funds, beating out other hamlets, due to her efforts.
In 1949, Sid Bartlett, a Monte Rio merchant, bought a surplus Quonset hut from the U.S. Navy and began converting it into a movie theater. Suzi and Don owned the Rio Theater for over 20 years from 1993 to 2014.
Owning that old theater and working there day in and day out for over 20 years? You have to admire that work ethic and that passion. Taking the ticket money at the booth, serving the food, passing out the blankets, then running the reels starting with the old travel videos of their trips to Mexico, before the feature presentation began.
One day I was coming home from work and heading to the Village Inn for a birthday dinner with my husband Patrick. I turn the corner to approach the bridge and see Happy 50th Birthday Chuck on the marquee. Patrick had arranged neighbors and even co-workers from Santa Rosa to be at my party. Where else can an event like this be something you will never forget?
Suzi and Don were part of the small town magic that brought Patrick and me to Monte Rio.
I also read an article that after paying too much for a coffin for a relative that had passed and was cremated, Suzi decided to buy one of Broderson’s pine box coffins when she was 43. She kept the coffin in her Villa Grande living room and used it as a coffee table and storage box. She figured the coffin would be used for a long time, and she decided to plan ahead. Like she always did.
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