Fifteen years ago David Saly helped oversee the construction of the Rooster Run Golf Course in Petaluma and then stayed on to serve as its superintendent.
Saly, who continued his work at the course until a few weeks ago, died April 10 at his home in Rohnert Park after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 61.
He is remembered as a man who was quick to help his neighbors with home repairs and to host barbecues for his crew at the golf course.
"He cared deeply for the people that he loved," said Martha Saly, his wife of 34 years.
Born in San Diego, Saly entered the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War. He was stationed in Guam.
After his military service, he moved to the tiny Humboldt County town of Hoopa and later lived a decade in a remote stretch of the Klamath River about 45 miles from Yreka. It was there he met his future wife. During those years Saly owned a small lumber mill, prospected for gold and served as a caretaker of a 1,200-acre estate.
In the late 1980s he attended College of the Desert in Palm Springs, a community college where he received a degree in turf grass management.
Before his employment at Rooster Run, he worked at golf courses in Saratoga and Vallejo, as well as the Marin Country Club in Novato.
At Rooster Run, he helped create protected space for mute swans and built more than 50 birdhouses for swallows. He had local school children paint the bird houses, which are put out in spring and taken down in fall.
Each workday he would arrive at the golf course with Driver, his Welsh corgi.
Saly was a talented woodworker, making jewelry boxes and special three-compartment salt cellars. He was an avid gardener who tended a dozen fruit trees at his home.
In 2009 he overcame non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Last year he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Along with his wife, survivors include his mother, Marinette Andrews of San Marcos; and his siblings, Mark Saly of Escondido and Lisabeth Baker of Virginia.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at the golf course, 2301 E. Washington St.
The family prefers memorial contributions to the Sonoma County Council on Aging's Meals on Wheels program, 30 Kawana Springs Road, Santa Rosa 95404.
— Robert Digitale, The Press Democrat