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Sonoma’s ‘walking man’ passes away

Friday, February 8th, 2013 | Posted by | no responses

Something’s missing for drivers in Sonoma Valley – or rather, someone.

The towering, broad-shouldered “walking man” spotted almost daily walking along Highway 12 or around downtown Sonoma died Dec. 31.

A brief death notice in the local newspaper announced David Stoddard’s passing at age 53. No cause of death was given.

Stoddard was part of the local landscape, a quirky character who once inspired a “Walking Man” Facebook page of followers intrigued by his apparent tireless passion for walking.

Sonoma native Kristi Koeller Magnani is among those who regularly spotted the tall, bespectacled Stoddard around valley streets, often carrying a bag or two of groceries.

“He was ever-present,” she said. “He stood out because of his size and his habit. If he was five-foot eight, we probably wouldn’t have noticed him so much.”

Magnani estimates Stoddard easily stood 6’2”or 6’3.”

With a commanding structure and wavy hair nearing his shoulders, Stoddard was a moving fixture, someone well-known without really being known. He was spotted on the hottest of days and in inclement weather.

Magnani went to El Verano Elementary School with Stoddard, who also attended Altimira Middle School and Sonoma Valley High School.

She posted a message on Facebook about his death, generating condolences from even those who knew him just by sight.

For local motorists or shoppers who greeted him sitting on the bench outside Lucky supermarket, a bit of Sonoma’s small-town character has departed.

– Dianne Reber Hart

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Dianne Reber Hart is our Sonoma correspondent.

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