John Arnold Bogner - age: 60
(September 12, 1951 to September 19, 2011
Civic leader John Bogner died Monday at his Ukiah home, his death shaking community leaders who for two decades relied on his charitable acts to help turn local dreams into realities. Bogner’s passing at age 60 left a legion of friends, business associates and admirers in mourning.
Ukiah Mayor Mari Rodin recalled Bogner as a “warm, jovial person for whom love of and commitment to community was a religion.”
“I don’t know of anyone who was more generous to local non-profits really needing help,” said community leader Martha Barra.
Bogner lived life large, working tirelessly on behalf of community charities and educational endeavors while maintaining his rank as greater Ukiah’s top real estate agent for the past 20 years.
At home Bogner and partner Gary Nix regularly entertained a mix of Ukiah Valley’s civic, political and business leaders in a lively style unmatched in town. With a spectacular view of the valley as a backdrop, a cocktail hour on the deck of the hillside Bogner-Nix home was where the latest community news was exchanged, new friendships forged and old bonds celebrated.
Bogner loved his hometown, extolling its virtues far and wide and enlisting volunteers to keep pace with a schedule that would exhaust many people years younger. “John loved giving back to the community. He took great satisfaction in that,” said Nix.
Nix and Bogner were longtime partners in business, and in their personal lives. Both men grew up in Ukiah, and knew each other slightly in high school. In 1976, they entered into a relationship that lasted more than 30 years.
Bogner had a long history of civic involvement, ranging from serving as a Rotary Club president to acting as a fun-loving, martini-sipping auctioneer at major fund-raising events. He enjoyed parading around town in a brightly colored Uncle Sam costume to mark annual Fourth of July and Memorial Day events. Delivering truckloads of pumpkins to friends and real estate clients at Halloween was another Bogner touch.
Bogner relished his role as a board director of the Mendocino College Foundation, a fund-raising arm providing scholarships to deserving students.
College President Kathy Lerner recalled Bogner as an energetic foundation director who made a difference. “John was a board leader, and trusted volunteer. He was simply the best,” said Lerner.
Bogner’s civic list included serving stints as a past president of the Greater Ukiah Chamber of Commerce and the Active 20-30 Club. He also was a past honoree of the chamber’s “Outstanding Citizen of the Year” by the chamber.
Bogner also was a past director of Mardi Gras, a winter-time tradition that remains the single largest fund-raising event for St. Mary’s School.
Bogner was born into a family with deep roots in the West. His grandfather moved to Ukiah in 1919 from Montana, and started a dairy operation on the northern edge of town. A large portion of the family farm would four decades later become the site of the former Masonite manufacturing plant.
Bogner grew up on the dairy, and attended St. Mary’s School in Ukiah. He graduated from Ukiah High School in 1969, and two years later he graduated from Santa Rosa Junior College. Bogner returned home, and went to work for a family-owned moving business in Ukiah. In 1978, Bogner decided to make real estate sales his career, launching a stellar career that earned him widespread recognition within the industry. By the mid-1980s, Bogner and Nix had become business partners. In 1995 they sold their firm to Realtor Dick Selzer, and became part of the larger Selzer real estate firm.
“John had a record for 20 years or more as the agent with the most number of closed transactions, almost unheard of within the industry,” said Nix.
Bogner became a board director of Bareis, a multiple real estate listing service covering Mendocino, Sonoma, Napa, Solano and Marin counties.
Besides partner Nix, Bogner is survived by his mother Lorene Bogner of Ukiah, three sisters, Chrissy Eversole and Carol Bullivant, both of Ukiah, and Barbara Bogner of Sacramento; a brother, Ronnie Bogner of Clearlake Oaks; and numerous nieces and nephews.
A celebration of Bogner’s life is set for 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1 at the Lake Mendocino Clubhouse (please carpool). Eversole Mortuary is handling arrangements. Memorial contributions to the Mendocino College Foundation, Ukiah Valley Association for Habilitation or the South Ukiah Rotary Club have been suggested.