Earle Richard Austin

Published in Press Democrat from Aug. 14 to Aug. 16, 2020.

Earle Richard Austin
June 5, 1943 - July 31, 2020

Richard Austin, a popular Sonoma County teacher for nearly four decades, passed away on July 31, 2020, from complications following hip surgery; he was 77.

He was born in San Mateo, California, but when he was nine, his family moved to Sonoma County, where he remained for the rest of his life.

After graduating from Analy High School he enrolled at SRJC where he earned his AA Degree and San Francisco State College where he earned his BA and his teaching credential. Although his father wanted him to study law Richard knew his passion was education, and began his career in 1965. He loved teaching, but he hated the early hours and the commute from Monte Rio to Rincon Valley. It was at Rincon Valley Elementary School where he first started teaching 6th Grade. He would later go on to teach 4th and 5th grades. Near the end of his career he switched to kindergarten. He retired in 2002 and his students remember him for his enthusiastic directing of the school plays. They would often say he was their favorite teacher. His many friends as well as students felt a special connection with him. He had a genuineness about him that made everyone feel special. When he retired he enjoyed his friends who always told him they wanted him along on the road trips, cruises and outings because his enthusiasm made for a guaranteed good time. They all agree that they were fortunate to have known him, worked with him, and traveled with him. The most distinctive feature, and the one that will be missed by all friends and relatives was his luminous smile.

He loved books, music, and theatre and his interest in theatre extended to acting with the 6th Street Playhouse. He also enjoyed traveling, gardening, his Dillon Beach house, the Turner Classic Movie channel, The Wizard of Oz, Disney collectibles and let's not forget his love for animals, especially cats.

Richard is survived by his twin sister Karen Miinch of Rio Nido, and his younger sister Kathleen Dunham (Geoffrey)of Sebastopol, nephews Ryan Patterson of Guerneville and David Miinch (Kimberly)of Hidden Valley Lake, nieces Laurel Rocklewitz (Rick)of Sebastopol and Tammy Lambert (Henry) of Guerneville, and grand nieces and nephews: Ashley, Morgan and Charlie Lambert and AJ and Katie Miinch. He will also be greatly missed by his dearest longtime friend Peter Higbee of Guerneville.

At his request there will be no service.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.

Rev. Maria Sepasi

A tribute to Rev. Maria Sepasi, by Chrisy Snow, Founder and Spiritual Director at Carolina Center for Spiritual Awakening

My sweet friend and colleague, Rev. Maria Sepasi, passed away on July 30th. She was a blessing to all of us! From CSL Santa Rosa in the early 90s to the Center for Positive Living /Spiritual Living Center of Charlotte and Unity of Charlotte. She considered all of these communities part of her Spiritual family, and she will be missed from coast to coast!

Funeral arrangements for Maria have been made for Saturday, August 15th, at 3pm. The location is House of Rosadale Home of Funerals address 3641 Central Avenue Charlotte, NC 28205. Her daughter Dria Bray-Holloway is wanting to Zoom the service for those who can not make it.

Rev. Maria was a sweet and gentle soul. She was funny, patient, and kind and loved to be of service to others. She began her journey in New Thought spirituality while attending the Science of Mind spiritual center in Santa Rosa, CA, called the Center for Spiritual Living Santa Rosa. She loved that community and was very proud to have sung at the dedication of their then-new space in 1990, with the late Linda Webb-Khakaba and Dr. Edward Viljoen.

She later obtained a master's degree from the Holmes Institute in California. She was also a Religious Science Practitioner, and most of her service to spiritual communities was in the Science of Mind and Unity centers from California to North Carolina.

Shortly after her move to Charlotte, Renee' LeBoa and I met Maria and quickly became friends as she joined our community, Center for Positive Living, later to be called Spiritual Living Center of Charlotte. She served there as a practitioner and interfaith minister. She loved our community and was loved deeply in return. She was also involved at Unity of Charlotte and considered their congregation yet another portion of her spiritual family. Rev. Maria spent a large part of her life, serving God by being in loving service to others. She is remembered fondly for her soft and gentle way of leading prayers and meditations. Lighthearted, easy-going, deeply rooted in faith with a great sense of humor and the smile to match. Maria loved being a minister and was loved by many. She will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.

I was happy to find this meditation led by Rev. Maria. Rest well, my friend, I love you.


Dr. Mondell Brazell

Dr. Mondell Brazell, a well-known and beloved member at The Center, made his transition on March 10 at Memorial Hospital in Santa Rosa. Dr. Brazell was a loving presence in the world who dedicated his life's work to education and helping others connect with their inner spirit.

Mondell loved singing opera and could be heard singing "Ave Maria" at various venues. Many of you may remember him sitting at the hospitality table where he enjoyed sampling the cookies and making connections with people of all ages. Mondell is survived by his companion, Vera Williams, and family members both local and out of town. Memorial Services are pending.

Catherine Elizabeth Grace

Catherine Elizabeth Grace

August 4, 1951- February 12, 2020

Catherine Grace was an incredible bright soul. Born in Santa Ana, CA, she moved to Sebastopol when she married. Catherine resided in Sebastopol for the past 40 years. She worked as a Speech Therapist in the Sonoma County Schools for over 30 years and her work with children was extraordinarily meaningful to her. 

Catherine was also a Spiritual Prayer Practitioner with the Center for Spiritual Living. She delighted in spirituality and had a strong love for all things spiritual. Her intuitive guidance and inner wisdom provided inspiration and support to all who met her, she was such a bright light! Catherine also ran the animal ministry and did blessings for animals in need. 

She had a deep connection to all living things and compassion and love for animals. Catherine lived her life with extraordinary patience, kindness, ease, and grace. She loved tending to her rose garden, spending time in nature, painting watercolors, spending time with her children, and she loved beauty. She filled her home and her life with beauty and love. 

Catherine is survived by her children, Sarah Joy Loren, and Robert Christian Kenney. Her family is planning a private Celebration of Life for her closest family and friends.

Noel J. Lytle

Noel J. Lytle 
August 27, 1941 - October 15, 2019 

Noel Lytle, age 78, peacefully passed away after an abrupt and difficult battle with cancer. Noel is survived by his adored wife, Anita, his three children, Tracy (Pat) Humes, LeAnn (Rick) Kovar, and Kristen (John) Lancaster; his five grandchildren, Kira, Justin, Ben, Maggie and Elizabeth; his siblings Farrel, Julene and Larry and a loving extended family. He was preceded in death by his parents Wayne and Justine Lytle, and his brother Eldon.

Noel grew up on a ranch in rural Rose Valley in northeastern Nevada, a place that remained important to him throughout his life. He attended Brigham Young University, earning his bachelor's degree in Psychology, followed by a master's degree in Social Work from the University of Utah. After grad school, Noel moved with his young family to Santa Rosa, CA where he began his long and valued career in social work and psychotherapy.

Noel was an avid reader and gladly shared his extensive book collection with others. He also loved riding motorcycles. He enjoyed nothing quite as much as riding the open road on a beautiful day. A history buff, Noel put his extensive knowledge as well as his love of the Spanish language to use as a docent with the State Historic Parks Association. He worked at the mission in Sonoma and the Petaluma Adobe. Noel had great respect for the natural world, and relished quiet time spent at his cabin in the coastal redwoods. Noel's love for his family was profound; he cherished time spent talking, laughing and sharing stories with his loved ones.

A celebration of Noel's life will be held in Santa Rosa, details to follow. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to your favorite charity

Joe Seaver

Our beloved friend, Joe Seaver, passed away on June 11th. He was a loving presence and dedicated supporter of our Center in countless ways, including service on our stewardship team and legacy team.

There will be a memorial service to celebrate Joe's life, here at the Center, on Saturday, July 13th at 2:00. Joe's family welcomes all who can attend.

Please join us to honor Joe, the kind soul who often asked, "Has anyone told you how wonderful you are?

Lynn Susan Werner


Lynn Susan Werner


Lynn Werner passed in her sleep in the early hours of March 14th. Having lived a full and adventuresome life, her death was peaceful and well supported with family at her side. Born March 1, 1948 in Brooklyn, New York to Clara and Joe Werner, she was the older sister of Shelley. Lynn came to California at the age of 20 after graduating Brooklyn College with her B.A. in Sociology. Heading toward Berkeley in the early 70’s, Lynn was a child of her times. Rejoicing in the freedom she felt being in California, Lynn explored life in its manifold possibilities. Delighting in natural beauty, Lynn found her joy in the journey and exploration from the lowest desert to the highest mountain.

Early in life, she decided life would be better as a mother. And, with the help of Amber's father, Roy, she was, at 24. Settling in San Francisco, Lynn raised her daughter largely as a single mother, giving her all the love and nurturing accorded the incredible being she created. Amber was her love and her light, creating meaning and direction. Lynn became the parent she did not have, even maintaining shared custody for her child’s benefit. Lynn embraced her role, sharing housing and support with other single mothers. The Single Parent Network, a self –help group she established with her longest held friend Vonnell Bettencourt, became a widely acclaimed and stable resource in San Francisco. Through her work and volunteer efforts in human services, Lynn gave loving support and comfort to hundreds of people.

She recalled fondly the exciting days of working together with other parents to create an alternative parent run childcare center, at the time named Yoey Preschool, which became part of San Francisco Unified School District. She and her co-conspirators for early childhood education made decisions through consensus and wore green to align the psychic energy to their goals. Lynn tended to be quiet, but when things got out of hand, she was the one who restored civility. Yoey Preschool, now renamed, Bessie Carmichael, is still serving children, a testament to her and her peers vision and skill.

A psychic told Lynn she would be married by the time she was 35. At 34 she met David. They were married in Tilden Park in 1982, in what Amber described as a “delightfully unpretentious ceremony”. It was officiated by Lynn’s dear friend Vonnell Bettencourt, a Universal Life Minister. What can one say about marriage that lasts to death do us part? Love deepens and expands, creating the best in both. Lynn and David loved to play. Together for long trips and shared passions, they enjoyed life in all its manifestations, from walking on the beach to rafting wild rivers. A trip through the Grand Canyon awakened them to their next phase in life and in 1997 they moved to Sonoma County. A year later they found their dream home in Sebastopol and settled into new careers and a wonderful community of friends.

Other than Amber, Lynn and David raised no other children until Kyle was born to Amber and Simon, her beloved since her Sophomore year in College. Kyle filled that place in David for a child and he was transformed by the relationship. Lynn was equally blessed to have Kyle in her life. They were able to get together at least once or twice a month throughout Kyle’s childhood despite the distance between Sebastopol and Berkeley. This proximity, while not a daily connection, allowed Kyle to be a loving presence in their lives as he grew into the wonderful young man he is today. Lynn’s sister Shelley and her sister’s boyfriend Randy were a great joy to her as well, expanding this small family with an abundance of love.

Family and friends remember Lynn as a Grandma swelling with pride as Kyle met the challenges of life. When he was only 3 years old, she and David took Kyle out in a boat for the first time. With Grandma in the water and lifejacket on, he jumped into the water, safe in the arms of love.

Lynn was an astrologer. Always looking for the meaning of life, she explored many aspects of new thought and metaphysics. Throwing the I Ching, laying the Tarot cards, consulting the stars, Lynn wanted answers for why life was the way it was. It went with her passion to make the world a better place. She wanted to know how to end suffering, starting with her own. She joined spiritual study groups, attended workshops and took classes to grow in self-awareness. When her sister Shelley arrived in Santa Rosa in 2004, she introduced Lynn to the Center for Spiritual living where she shed old beliefs to recreate herself as a powerful presence and Community Steward. Deeply manifesting her connection to life, she touched all she met with love.

Shelley was loved by Lynn. They were best friends in addition to being sisters. Spending lots of time together, they shared a life view and enhanced each other - emotionally and spiritually. Together they took spiritual awareness classes growing in consciousness together. With David and Randy, they enjoyed their family get-togethers and as they grew old together, they transcended their early childhood repairing those experiences with a deep and abiding love.

Being deeply concerned about the environment, Lynn used her efforts and resources to help improve the world. Once working as the Toilet Rebate Queen of San Francisco, in the City’s Water Conservation program, she set up a way to help folks conserve by giving away thousands of low flow toilets at various sites around the City. At City College, the line was so long it threatened the freeway onramp. When one of the trucks carrying hundreds of toilets was delayed by a slight mishap negotiating the steep hills around the give-away site, Lynn stopped a stampede by placing her body between the public and the truck, long enough for authorities to be called.

Lynn also contributed to an environmental sustainability report for the City. Members of the environmental, spiritual and human rights groups she belonged to over the years, will remember Lynn fondly. She used her many talents and abilities to give her all for the causes she embraced. In later life, her goal was to be a beacon of love in the world. Eschewing the long held strategy of protesting what’s wrong with the world, she came to see the good everywhere and in everyone. She spoke inspirationally to hundreds of people who were empowered by her belief in them. She truly cherished all of life and was particularly touched by those motivated to change their lives. Those to whom she gave her love, her time and her talent, will carry forward the good she did.

Lynn is survived by her husband, David, daughter Amber, sister Shelley, grandson Kyle, son-in-law Simon, Shelley’s partner Randy, and numerous friends both young and old. Though her body is no longer with us, she will always remain in our hearts. A private celebration of Lynn’s life will be held at Santa Rosa Center for Spiritual Living on April 20, 2019. Contributions may be made in Lynn’s memory to Greenpeace or the Sonoma County Folk Society.