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Barbara Konicek, champion of charitable causes, dies at 90

Barbara Konicek, an elegant link to old Santa Rosa, championed a wide range of charitable causes before her death Saturday at age 90.

Konicek, a third-generation Santa Rosan, was known for her elaborate Christmas parties in a B Street Victorian that had been in her family for more than 100 years. But she also was a passionate volunteer for groups that help the poor, immigrants and troubled teens.

“Barbara really, really cared and identified with people who were suffering, particularly young people and families,” retired Sonoma County Judge Gayle Guynup said.

Guynup recruited Konicek more than a dozen years ago to serve on the board of Social Advocates for Youth. At 90, she donned a fluorescent T-shirt to champion its Dream Center.

Her community involvement covered a wide spectrum, including the boards of Catholic Charities, the Symphony League and Ursuline High School, as well as the parish council at St. Eugene's Cathedral. Over the years, she also supported a number of candidates for various offices.

“Barbara was the epitome of involvement, whether it was political, charitable or religious,” said former Congressman Doug Bosco, who is married to Guynup.

With her trademark blond bouffant and breathy voice, she was a fixture for decades on Santa Rosa's social scene. She believed in pearls, polished silver and upholding standards. Also, a martini at 5.

Born Barbara Jones, Konicek was the sole grandchild of brewer William Metzger, who for a 20th wedding anniversary present in the 1890s bought his wife, Augusta, a spacious Italianate residence at Eighth and B streets near St. Rose Catholic Church.

Until her death, Konicek shared that house with her daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren. She thrived on the energy of the younger generations and their new ideas, while insisting on respect for the past, friends and family said.

Konicek attended St. Rose School and graduated from Santa Rosa High in 1941. She went on to Santa Rosa Junior College and graduated from UC Berkeley, where she studied journalism.

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