Elaine Ghisla – longtime Kenwoodian
Longtime resident of Kenwood, Elaine Ghisla, died in her home on Sept. 23. Elaine, a law librarian, homemaker and writer, lived on the same property in Kenwood for 71 years – the property that her father and mother purchased in 1943.
Born in the Mission district of San Francisco, Elaine was raised within close proximity to her uncles, aunts and cousins, many of whom, including her father, emigrated from Italy. Her father, “Bap” Baptisto Da San Martino, was a vegetable farmer, as were many of the close-knit Italian community. He eventually worked for the City of San Francisco as a cable car driver. Her mother, Annie, was a tailor and homemaker.
Elaine attended and graduated from Balboa High School in 1938. She attended Lone Mountain College (now University of San Francisco) and completed a degree program in English. She studied French and often joked that the nuns requested she abandon her studies in French as she made it sound like Italian. After graduation, she worked in San Francisco as a legal assistant until her parents moved to Kenwood in 1943. Like many in Kenwood, Elaine’s parents were chicken/egg ranchers.
While at Balboa, Elaine met her future husband Vincent and was married in June 1945 at St. Francis Solano Church in Sonoma. Elaine and Vincent were together until his death in November 1993.
During her 71 years in Sonoma County, Elaine held several jobs. She was a law librarian at the Law Library at the original courthouse in downtown Santa Rosa. She worked for the library from the late 1940s until daughter Deborah was born in 1955. She chose to stay at home to raise her children but helped her parents with the chicken business, maintaining the books and records. After World War II, her husband became a partner in the chicken business with her parents. Her son Tony was born in 1959 and once the children were in school – Kenwood Elementary – she began volunteering to set up the Kenwood School Library and spent many hours cataloging and filing. She took great pride in teaching the students not only how to search for books but also to respect and care for them. As her children passed through grade school and on to middle and high school, she discovered her love of writing and became the Kenwood Correspondent for the Sonoma Index Tribune. She also wrote for the Kenwood Press for many years.
Elaine lived a quiet and peaceful life. She loved a good joke. She was an avid reader and enjoyed playing the piano for herself and her grandchildren. She believed in education and loved the serenity of the Valley and found peace gazing up onto Sugarloaf and Hood Mountain. Elaine loved walking on Hoff Road, Adobe Canyon and in Oakmont.
Elaine is survived by her son Tony, daughter Deborah Baad, daughter-in-law Cheryl, son-in-law Mike Baad and grandchildren Chris Baad, Katie Daley, Adrienne Uboldi and Kim Ghisla. The family expresses their deepest gratitude to Elaine’s caregiver, Watanasio “Tony” Matanatoto and his wife Elitilla “Tila” Matanatoto for their devotion and care.
A memorial mass will be held at St. Leo’s Catholic Church on Saturday, Oct. 4, at 11:30 a.m. The family suggests memorial donations to the Kenwood School Library program.