Gerald “Jerry” Faddis, a career Sonoma County firefighter who kicked off each year with one hot Super Bowl party, died Wednesday from cancer at age 74.
Faddis joined the Santa Rosa Fire Department in 1964 and in 1978 switched to working fire prevention. He retired in 1989 but missed the fire service so much he went back to work checking construction plans to assure they met fire safety regulations.
He did that first for the Petaluma Fire Department and then with the Sonoma County Office of Emergency Services. He retired a second time in spring of 2011.
Faddis was a gregarious and active man whose passions included golf, the Active 20-30 Club, flyfishing on the Smith River and elsewhere and making the most delectable smoked salmon.
He also savored family gatherings at a cabin in Guernewood Park that belonged for many years to his mother and stepfather.
“We’d often have Thanksgiving there,” said his daughter, Lisa Smallcomb of Santa Rosa. She remembers being a little girl there and having her father teach her to dance.
“My dad had me stand on his feet so he could show me how to do the box step,” Smallcomb said. “It was fun for everybody.”
Also fun were the Super Bowl parties her father and her mother, the former Carol Dierks, hosted each year at their home in Santa Rosa. There were TVs, people and food everywhere.
“There might have been a tiny bit of drinking going on,” Smallcomb said. “He knew how to throw a party, that’s for sure.”
Gerald Faddis was born in San Francisco on Christmas Day of 1938. All through his childhood his family moved from place to place throughout the Bay Area. It was at Capuchino High in San Bruno that he met his future wife.
They married in 1960, when Faddis was serving in the army and was stationed in Germany. Upon his honorable discharge, the couple returned to the San Francisco Peninsula and Faddis went to work for his late stepfather, James Arteseros, who owned several Standard Oil gas stations.
In the summer of 1964, Faddis, by then the father of two, learned of a vacancy on the Santa Rosa Fire Department. He applied and was offered a job. He loved it.
“Everything was centered around the fire department,” Carol Faddis said.
Jerry Faddis served as a firefighter at stations throughout the city, and he drove the former city ambulance.
Following his first retirement in 1989, he and his wife moved to rural Covelo in Mendocino County. They bought a retail business, the Round Valley Trading Company. They sold housewares, gifts, clothing, all sorts of things.
“One of our friends called it the knick-knack store,” Carol Faddis said.
She and her husband lived on the edge of Covelo in a house on 10 acres.
“It was a beautiful, wooded place with a creek running through it,” she said.
But it was remote and too far from family in Santa Rosa, especially when grandchildren started to be born. The Faddises returned to Santa Rosa in 1996 and the retired firefighter went back to work checking construction plans.
He was diagnosed with cancer early in 2008 but continued to work full-time for the county Office of Emergency Services through surgeries and chemotherapy.
“He put up a huge fight,” his daughter said, “and he never complained.”
Faddis was in hospice care when he died at home Wednesday.
In addition to his wife and daughter in Santa Rosa, he is survived by son Garrett Faddis, also of Santa Rosa; sister Sandy Absher of Millbrae, brother James Arteseros Jr. of Santa Rosa, stepsisters Gloria Harrison of Fort Bragg and Carol Arteseros of Illinois, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
A celebration of Faddis’ life will be at 1 p.m. Wed., July 24, in the recreation room at Brookwood Mobile Home Park, 7000 Montecito Blvd.
Memorial donations are suggested to Memorial Hospice, 439 College Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA 95401.
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