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SMITH: Maybe Shane led you to the casket

Published: Monday, October 29, 2012 at 6:13 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, October 29, 2012 at 6:13 p.m.

You've got your favorite holiday and Shane Conroy, who was born in Santa Rosa 31 years ago with Down syndrome, has Halloween.

Every year Shane has gone, several times, to the genuinely scary and charitable haunted house by events master Judy Groverman Walker.

But this year Shane isn't merely a patron.

He had helped with the haunting on Bluebell Drive. His dad, Steve, said stage experience Shane gained in the Alchemia program at 6th Street Playhouse prepared him join the cast of the Blind Scream house o' horrors.

The other night, Shane wore Grim Reaper garb and enticed willing victims into The Last Ride, an inside-the-casket odyssey. It was one of the greatest nights of his life.

“He's helping us,” said head ghoul Walker, “and we're helping him.”

IN DUNCANS MILLS, state parks employee Liz Beale didn't need to trouble herself with the class ring that went unclaimed after an honest somebody found it about four years ago on a Sonoma Coast beach and turned it in.

But Beale has a high-school senior of her own and she figured the ring's owner would like to have it back.

The ring bears no school name but is inscribed with the year 2009 and the name “Gaddis.”

Beale phoned manufacturer Jostens and was told the ring was sold to grad Jonathan Gaddis of Karns High School in Knoxville, Tenn.

Beale went onto Facebook and found Jonathan Royal Gaddis, a Karns alum and college student now employed as a deli clerk at a Safeway — in Windsor. Beale phoned, connected with Gaddis and brought him his ring.

Marveled Gaddis, who's 21 and living in Sonoma County for a time because his mom lives here, “I can't believe she went to all that effort.”

HOLDING COURT: Leathernecks rarely cry in public, but the weekend ceremony that named the SRJC tennis courts for Izzy Derkos visibly got to the former coach and Marine Corps veteran.

Several ex-players rubbed a shoulder as they recalled how Derkos would grip it like a vice while offering a bit of counsel during a match or practice.

They said Derkos not only taught them how to play the game but also to work hard, focus and be a good sport, friend and person.

Derkos used the moment to urge alumni to come back and give back by helping out with the tennis and other sports programs at the JC.

RIVER READER FOLDS: Sadly, Guerneville's Main Street bookstore will close this week.

“Guerneville, on a good day, is struggling,” owner Susan Ryan said Monday as she tended to preparations for shutting River Reader Inc.

Ryan said business has fallen off to the point at which she can no longer sustain the independent bookstore and community gathering place.

As she launches a job search, she said running River Reader has been an absolute labor of love.

“I'm grateful I got to do it.”

Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and

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