Kenwood Press

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Obituaries: 02/01/2019

Elaine Adele Schukler (Bianchini)


Hank & Elaine Schukler

Elaine Schukler passed away peacefully on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, at her home with her devoted husband of more than 66 years, Hank, at her side. Elaine was 87 years old and a lifelong resident of Sonoma. Elaine Adele Bianchini was born in San Francisco on Nov. 22, 1931. She was the daughter of Armando “Botchi” Bianchini and Albina Bianchini, and sister of Gloria Hommel. Elaine was the third generation of her family to call the Sonoma Valley home. For many years, the Bianchini family owned and operated the old Sonoma Grove Resort, a popular destination for guests traveling by ferry or railroad to visit the Sonoma hot springs. The property remains with the family and was a vital part of Elaine’s life, as a child and later in her adult years. Elaine took great pride in her restoration of the historical “Benjamin Mitchel Adobe” building, which dates back to the mid 1800s, now known as the Earth Dance Healing Foundation.

Elaine Schukler
Elaine attended Ursuline Academy, Sonoma Valley High School and Santa Rosa Junior College. She was also a Vintage Festival Queen. In 1952, her good friend Harry Weise introduced her to a handsome GI who had just returned from serving in the Army in Germany, Henry J. Schukler “Hank.” Hank was a local boy from Kenwood, whose family operated the Golden Bear Club (current location of TIPS Roadside). Elaine and Hank were married on Sept. 12, 1953, at St. Francis Solano Church with a reception at the Sonoma Mission Inn. The couple began their married life in the Sebastiani cottage on East Fourth Street. Elaine became skilled at packing moving boxes and creating beautiful homes, as Hank’s career with Del Monte Foods moved the family to various cities in the Central Valley, San Jose and the Bay Area. Sonoma was always her “true home,” and the family moved permanently back to the Sonoma Valley in the mid-1970s.

Elaine was a loyal and generous friend to many. It was during her childhood that she became lifelong friends with a young Rheda Brassacchio (later Parducci). Elaine and Rheda shared a lifetime of adventures – from teenage rendezvous in San Francisco to many trips to Italy, Reno, Lake Tahoe and beyond. Their friendship was deep – they married at similar times, raised their children together and created a strong bond that continues today between the Schukler and Parducci families. Elaine and Hank loved their friends and were known to entertain often, with Elaine setting beautiful tables and Hank tending bar. The door was always open and it was common to have friends “drop by” for a drink and dinner.

Elaine was a creative person with many passions. She loved animals of all kinds, especially horses. She became an accomplished equestrian, competing at the Cow Palace, the Grand National Horse Show, Monterey, and other shows with her beloved Morgan horse, Rainbird. She was also quite the seamstress, often creating her own elaborate show costumes with feathers and sequins! In the 1980s, she had a vision of converting the Greyhound Bus Depot on East Spain Street into a gift shop. She partnered with good friend Joan Schlieman and together they opened Park Plaza “Gifts and Fine Linens.” The shop was a great success and became the place for Sonoma’s distinguished ladies to catch-up, and do some shopping.

Elaine would be the first to tell anyone that her greatest gift in life was her family. Elaine and Hank’s marriage spanned more than 66 years, rarely apart except when Hank went hunting with his childhood buddies (which happened during their entire marriage). They had an amazing life together – traveling to Europe many times, driving their RV to every state and Canada, and month-long stays in Palm Desert, meeting new people along the way. Elaine was a wonderful mother to Karen, Steven and Melissa and loving and generous Nonie to her seven grandchildren. Time with Nonie was filled with many little moments and even more big moments – vacations, RV trips, visits to Train Town, teaching them to paint, making gingerbread houses, pointing out the natural beauty of her peacocks, and lots of candy! Her children and grandchildren will hold dear Elaine’s strength, bits of wisdom, words of support, and unconditional love.

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