James  Gearhart

James Richard "Dick" Gearhart

1940 - 2018

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Obituary of James Gearhart

Richard Gearhart (Dick to friends and family) passed away from cancer October 28 at home on a sunny autumn morning that might beckon him and wife, Sally, into the colorful countryside he used to photograph for pleasure. A resident of Sonoma County 29 years, he was born in Pasadena, CA but raised in Turlock, CA, graduating from UC Berkeley in 1963. After completing his Masters Degree in Public Administration, he chose to enter public service at the local government level, serving 4 counties over 37 years in Human Resources and Labor Relations. He was involved in collective bargaining for several counties. After serving as Personnel Director for Marin County, where he drafted that county's first Affirmative Action plan, he retired in 2001 as Director of Personnel and Employee Relations for Sonoma County.
Active in retirement, he first worked as a consultant in Human Resources for both Mendocino County and Rohnert Park. He also served many years on the Board of the Sonoma County Association of Retired Employees, initially acting as President, as well as serving on Cooperative Personnel Services Board in Sacramento. In addition, using his skills in personnel management for his church, First United Methodist of Santa Rosa, he contributed time in administrative areas that included policy review and the preschool program. Traveling widely, he later volunteered at the Santa Rosa Visitor's Center, enjoying the interaction with tourists from all over the world. An avid reader, lover of history, and tutor to his kids on family trips, he also followed car shows and sports events enthusiastically, managing to climb the CAL Bears stadium steps to view a winning game in September shortly before his death.
Surviving him are his wife since CAL days, Sally, a retired SRJC ESL instructor, his beloved children, daughter, Carolee Gearhart and son, David Gearhart, his 3 grandchildren, Clayton, 9, son of Carolee and husband, Simon Rowston, of Oakland, and Grace Ann, 12, and Carter, 8, daughter and son respectively of David and Beth Gearhart of Atlanta, GA. He also leaves his brother, David, of Fresno and sister Donna, of Scottsdale, AZ.
Memorial Service is to convene at First United Methodist Church, 1551 Montgomery Drive, Santa Rosa on Sunday afternoon, November 18, 3:30pm. Donations to Hospice for Sutter Care at Home, P.O. Box 160045, Sacramento, CA 95816.