My legacy is that I stayed on course… from the beginning to the end, because I believed in something inside of me.                                                                          Tina Turner, American singer and actress – The Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll

If you want to smile, watch Tina Turner in her 2009 live performance of Proud Mary.  At the age of 70, she still captures the audience with her song and dance.  This woman survived all the hardship and adversity life brought to her with talent, beauty and grace.    What a legacy!  This month I reflect on the legacy of several local organizations: the Exchange Bank, the Press Democrat and the Sonoma County Alliance.                       

Our December General Membership meeting was sponsored by Exchange Bank.  Troy Sanderson, President and CEO, told us about the legacy of Frank Doyle.   Father and son Manville Doyle and Frank Doyle co–founded the Bank in 1890. Frank Doyle served as President until 1948. This local businessman wanted to improve commerce into the North Bay so he advocated for a bridge to cross from San Francisco to Marin County.  Through many years of effort, the Golden Gate Bridge was completed in 1937.  The suspension bridge was considered an engineering marvel as it spanned 4,200 feet and staked its claim as the longest suspension bridge in the world.

However, nothing displayed Frank Doyle’s commitment to Santa Rosa more than his last will and testament. Doyle wanted the Exchange Bank to remain a locally owned and managed institution long after he was gone. Rather than giving his stock to heirs, his controlling interest was put into a perpetual trust to assist in the education of “…worthy young men and women attending Santa Rosa Junior College.” Today our community knows it as the Doyle Scholarship. Since 1948, the scholarship fund has provided over $93.6 million to more than 139,000 students. The trust ensures that Frank Doyle’s legacy of community commitment will always stand as an active example for the rest of the Exchange Bank family.   Exchange Bank’s legacy is one of financial leadership and community support which continues today.

Our featured speaker in December was Rick Green, CEO of Press Democrat.  The first newspaper in Santa Rosa, the parent of today’s Press Democrat, was begun in 1857.  After a series of local ownership transitions, the Finley family purchased the paper in 1897.  Ernest and Ruth Finley then established radio station KSRO in 1936. Control of the newspaper and radio station passed to Ruth at Ernest’s death in 1942.  Mrs. Finley co-published the newspaper along with her son-in-law, Evert Person, for the next 31 years.  At Mrs. Finley’s death in 1973, ownership of The Press Democrat passed to her son-in-law and daughter, Evert and Ruth Person.  In 1985, shortly before Ruth Person died, she sold The Press Democrat to The New York Times Company which held the paper until 2012.  After nearly three decades, a group of investors and community leaders formed Sonoma Media Investments, LLC, returning the Press Democrat to local ownership.  The Press Democrat is the largest newspaper between San Francisco and the Oregon border.  Their focus is on local stories and they encourage a culture of investigation and factual reporting.  We are truly fortunate to have the legacy of this local publication.

The Sonoma County Alliance also enjoys a rich legacy.  We are a Business Advocacy Organization with a long history of bringing together diverse community groups to find mutually acceptable solutions to local issues.  There aren’t too many community issues the Alliance is not involved in: land use, property rights, transportation, housing, homelessness, protecting the environment, water supply and wastewater use, solid waste disposal and composting activities, education and community safety.  Organized in 1975, SCA advocated for Warm Springs Dam which now ensures an adequate public water supply.  The Alliance focuses on promoting a Healthy Economy, Healthy Environment, Healthy Community through the activities of various committees and through member participation on various Boards, Commissions and Councils.  Alliance members spend countless hours working to make our area stronger.

This is my final President’s Message as my term expires at the end of December.  Kimberly Waite begins her term as President in January.  I’ll remain on the Board as Immediate Past President.  Thank you for the privilege of being your President.  Leadership is both an honor and a responsibility and I’ve grown in your service.  There are countless opportunities to get involved in this work to create a better society.  I encourage you to follow your interests and passions because that is where your leadership begins.  Get involved and start where you are today with the things that interest and call you.

Enjoy the holidays and please take care.  Thank you again for being a member of the Sonoma County Alliance.

We welcome the New Year with our January General Membership Meeting.  Please register to join us January 5th at 7 am at the Santa Rosa Golf & Country Club or on Zoom at 7:30am.

No legacy is so rich as honesty.  William Shakespeare, English playwright

Have a great month.

What are you grateful for today?


Marlene Soiland, President

Sonoma County Alliance