Bonnie Mitsui was a lover of the land who nearly 30 years ago became one of the first Sonoma County ranch owners to deed their development rights to a conservancy, and who long envisioned a hilltop hiking trail from east of Petaluma to Jack London State Park in Sonoma Valley.
Mitsui died May 11 in her native Cincinnati, Ohio, where the former killer of house plants became so adept at gardening that she operated a thriving organic farm currently harvesting more than 100,000 pounds of produce a year.
Mitsui, who never lived full-time on her property on Sonoma Mountain but often took her two young children there from the family home in Mill Valley, was 69. Her death came from complications of lung cancer diagnosed in 2007.
"She's had her impacts on Sonoma County, in many ways," said longtime friend and ally Bill Kortum, the Petaluma environmentalist and former Sonoma County supervisor.
Kortum said that going back to the 1970s, when Mitsui and her family settled in Marin County, she was a generous contributor and advocate for the League of Conservation Voters and many other environmental initiatives.