Village Chat July 1, 2017
Here's a good story as we approach the 4th of July, that most patriotic of holidays.
Many of you will remember Reg Alexander, who lived in Glen Ellen until his death in 2010. Following WWII, Reg had a long and distinguished career in education in San Francisco, retiring to Glen Ellen with his wife Nida. But it is what he did during the war that makes him such an extraordinary figure.
Reg was a member of H Company in the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment. During the evening of June 5, 1944, the day before D-Day, Reg was on one of the many planes carrying hundreds of men into enemy territory with the mission to soften up the Germans before the Allied landings on the beaches of Normandy. His plane got off course and was hit by enemy fire, crashing. Reg parachuted out, but was seriously injured, shattering both of his legs. Two fellow soldiers were able to carry him to the nearby village of Pretot, where he was hidden by some of the townspeople.
The French hid his uniform and important invasion maps. His particular mission had been to meet up with Brigadier General Don Pratt, the assistant division commander, and bring him into division headquarters. Days later, as two young Frenchmen tried to move him eastward toward American lines, the German troops stopped them and captured Reg. He was imprisoned under harsh conditions for days, which included beatings by the Gestapo, was moved constantly, and was eventually rescued 104 days after D-Day.
After the war, Reg went back to France on many occasions, staying with the family that rescued him and with other townspeople who would open their homes to WWII veterans returning for D-Day celebrations. On June 6, 2009, the French government awarded Reg the Legion of Honor, France's highest honor. There is also a housing complex in Houesville named after him.
Fast-forward to last month, the 73rd anniversary of D-Day. Among those participating in the re-enactment by parachuting onto the beach was Sean Reed Young, son of Kay Young who owns Hopscotch Gift & Gallery in Glen Ellen. Sean is a U.S. Army staff sergeant, stationed in Grafenwöhr, Germany, with his wife and children. Sean and his buddies were all assigned to stay with families in nearby villages, and two of his friends happened to be staying with a family that knew Reg Alexander! He had stayed with them on many visits over the years.
After getting a tour of the family's property, Sean noticed that they were wine collectors, and he casually mentioned that his family lived in Northern California and asked if they'd ever been to Napa or Sonoma. They pulled out a bottle of Kenwood wine, and Sean said, “Wow, my mom lives near there and has her gallery in Glen Ellen.” The hosts said “Glen Ellen?!” and proceeded to pull out their photo album with Reg's pictures, and articles written about him, including from the Press Democrat and the Kenwood Press. After that, Sean said story after story flew out about Reg. Talk about a coincidence, and it only came about because Sean happened to be driving his friends around that day.
Making it even more of a coincidence, when Sean and his family were visiting here for the first time, in January, they stayed in a vacation rental right across the street from Reg and Nida Alexander's old house in Glen Ellen.
Thank you, Sean, for your service, and thanks to Reg and the many others like him who risked their lives for all of us.
On June 4, Olga Komar received her J.D. and Master of Legal Studies degrees from Empire College School of Law. Olga lives in Kenwood with her husband David and daughter Eva. She is originally from Ukraine, and holds an M.S. in Information Technology with honors from State University of Information and Communication Technology in Kiev. During law school Olga volunteered at the domestic violence department of Legal Aid of Sonoma County and received a Pro Bono award from the Sonoma County Bar Association for her outstanding volunteering services. She also volunteers at Kenwood Elementary. Very impressive - congratulations, Olga!
Congratulations are also due to Jean Michel Poulnot and Bernard Passemar who won a silver medal in Petanque during the Wine Country Games last month. Jean Michel lives in Oakmont and has competed in Petanque in the games for the last three years, winning silver each time. He has also competed in Bocce Ball in past years. Wine Country Games are for athletes age 50 and up, which includes most of us around here, so you can start training now for next year's games!
Rotary International's year goes from July 1 to June 30, so our two local Rotary Clubs have new presidents. For the Rotary Club of Glen Ellen-Kenwood it's Alec Peters, who also happens to be the editor and publisher of this very paper. Congratulations, Alec! Be sure to attend the club's 4th of July Shindig in Plaza Park, right after the parade. It's a free event, with live music, games, and food and drink for sale. Chuck Broward is the incoming president for the Valley of the Moon Rotary Club - congratulations, Chuck! VOM Rotary is working hard on its second annual Golf Tournament on Aug.11 at the Oakmont Golf Course. They are also looking for tee sign sponsors, so if you're interested, contact Pat at 568-1526.
1) There is no July 15th issue of the Kenwood Press. We're closing up shop and heading out for parts unknown. The office will reopen on July 17.
2) We are in the midst of our summer photo contest, “Pictures with the Press,” so start thinking about that. The only rule is that the Kenwood Press must be somewhere in the picture. Other than that, you are only limited by your imagination. The deadline to submit photos is Sept. 5. You can enter as often as you like. Just send photos to firstname.lastname@example.org and put “Photo Contest” in the subject line.
That's all for now. We'll be back in your mailbox on Aug. 1, and in the meantime, if you have an item for Village Chat, you can email it to email@example.com, or call 833-5155 and chat me up! - AQP