by Gay Deady
Farmer John Fomasi has property that borders Lydia Commons Park in Rohnert Park. From the Lydia Commons community garden a short trail leads to the road to the Fomasi house on the outskirts of Cotati. John Fomasi raised all four of his children there, while driving a truck with dairy supplies to dairy farms for J&J Feed Company. He has lived there with his wife of 70 years, Katie, for 60 years.
Each year on his birthday since his 90th, neighbors and friends and his family come together to celebrate his day. There were about 65 or more people this year for his 93rd celebration!
Neighbors have befriended the steer that he raises, and have becomes friends with him by chatting over the years as they pass by while he is doing his chores. He still does a lot of the maintenance work on his property, although climbing trees is no longer “allowed.”
He now has 7 great-grandchildren, most of whom attended this year, along with 9 grandchildren. He has many interesting tales to tell of years gone by, when many Italians migrated to California to take up dairy farming and hire out to milk cows. Many of them lived along a stretch of Lakeville Highway. Both Katie and John’s parents were born in the small town of Garzeno, Italy. Katie and John were born here, but did not know each other well until John turned 19 and they met at a carnival in Marin County. They fell immediately in love, but John had just been drafted into the US Army, and he would not get married until he was safely back. As soon as he made it back from Europe, they married. About 10 years later, they moved to this property.
After retiring from J&J Feeds, John helped repair the fences on the large dairy ranches, as cows always lean against them and knock down the posts. He did this for 20 more years! He still keeps the fences on his seven acres in perfect shape!
He is a wealth of information about the “old days” in early Cotati, and loves to share his stories.