Thomas Barnard Bova was born in Toronto, Canada on May 16, 1951 to parents Arnold and Elizabeth Bova. At a young age, the family moved to California and settled in Hermosa Beach where he attended elementary school and Mira Costa High School. After his Southern California beginnings, he spent most of the past 35 years in Northern California including time in Yountville, Napa, and Sonoma.
Depending on when you may have met Tom, you may know him as an army veteran, a police officer, a tow truck driver, a chef, a waiter, a maître d’, or a bartender. If you knew him in his youth, you may know him as “Tommy.” He was known as “Poppy” to his grandkids and “Dad” to me, but he was overwhelmingly known to his friends and family in Sonoma simply as “Bova.”
Bova knew people. His humor, charismatic charm, and sharp-witted intelligence, gave him an uncanny ability to relate to anyone. He was at ease talking to a politician at his bar, but at the end of night, more likely than not, you’d find him out back talking to the busboys or dishwashers. He would make sacrifices for his friends without thinking twice. When his weekly golf partner took ill and was unable to play, Tom gave up golf for two years and traded the Tuesday tee time for a regular lunch date instead.
What his friends and family will remember most – what truly resonates – are the quieter moments. The quiet conversations when he seemed to offer the advice, reassurance, or encouragement that you needed. He sensed when someone may have had too much pride to ask for help. Without having to ask, those in need could count on him for not only the help that they needed, but also receiving it with the gentle humor that was so much a part of him.
He would cook you anything you would like as long as it wasn’t an early morning breakfast. In fact, it was best not to call him before noon. Most nights he would go to bed not long before the “paper hit the sidewalk.” Fittingly, he passed away not long before the paper arrived on March 27.
He is survived by his wife Chickie, son Tony (Kim) Bova, stepson Gabe (Stacey) Luddy, stepdaughter Miranda Luddy, brothers Jerry (Linda) and Steve (Barbara) Bova, sister Susie Crosby, mother-in-law Sally “Mickey” Vella, grandchildren Adam, Elizabeth, Gaetano, and Aria.
A celebration of life will be held from 1:30-6pm on May 28th at Depot Park (270 First St. West) in Sonoma. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Sonoma Valley High School Boosters Club, P.O. Box 1264, Sonoma, CA 95476 or a charity of your choice.