Robert G. Mariani, a Marin, Calif. native and former Kentfield fire chief, died Oct. 28 at his home in Lakeport in Lake County. He was 81.
Mr. Mariani, known as Bob, joined the Kentfield Fire Protection District in 1956 as a volunteer firefighter and retired in 1993, serving his final three years as fire chief.
“His legacy here lives on,” said Kentfield fire Chief Mark Pomi. “He was a leader, a friend, a mentor. He definitely left fingerprints all over this place.”
The Mariani family has deep roots in Kentfield. It’s where Mr. Mariani was raised and where he chose to raise his family.
What’s more, Mr. Mariani was the third member of his family to serve the Kentfield fire department. His father Guido and his uncle Fred Petrie served the department before him.
Mr. Mariani was born on May 7, 1938. He attended Sir Francis Drake High School in San Anselmo.
After becoming a volunteer firefighter, Mr. Mariani was called to duty, serving in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1958 to 1961. When he was relieved of his military duty, he became a full-time paid firefighter, rising through the ranks over the years. He became fire chief in 1991.
In retirement, he moved to Paradise in Butte County. In 2018, Mr. Mariani escaped the Camp fire with only the clothes on his back.
When the fire struck, he attempted to defend his home with a garden hose, detailing the event in an interview with the Marin IJ last year: “The fire got into my backyard, hit the deck and blew out the windows in my living room. When it broke through my master bedroom, I said, ‘I’m out of here.’”
Mr. Mariani moved to Lakeport soon after. Over the years, he stayed active in the Kentfield fire family, participating in events to support the department.
Kentfield fire board member Ron Naso said Mr. Mariani will be missed.
“Chief Mariani was loved by co-workers who were firefighters and by the community,” Naso said. “He was also a great cook with an Italian flare who helped to prepare the annual firefighters association dinners.”
Mr. Mariani’s daughter Laura Mariani, who lives in Greenville, South Carolina, said he was known in the fire family as “Dogman.”
“That’s because he never went anywhere without his beloved golden lab, King,” she said. “King often rode shotgun alongside our dad in his pickup.”
“Our father was a force within our family,” she said. “And he was a beloved member of the firefighting community. My sisters and I treasure our memories growing up as the daughters of a Kentfield firefighter and appreciate everything the department and its members have meant to and done for our dad over the years. He will be greatly missed by us all.”
In addition to Laura Mariani, Mr. Mariani’s survivors include his mother, Betty Kuechler of San Rafael; and daughters Juli Mariani of Pleasant Hill and Nanette Mariani of Kelseyville.
In lieu of a memorial service, the Mariani family has asked family and friends to make a donation in Mr. Mariani’s name to Wine Country Marines at winecountrymarines.org, the Butte Strong Fund at buttestrongfund.org or Alisa Ann Rush Burn Foundation at aarbf.org.
© 2019 The Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.)
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