Francis “Sonny” Rianda, 85, of Gonzales passed away peacefully Friday, March 2, 2018 at his home surrounded by family and friends.

Sonny was born June 14, 1932 in Salinas to Henry and Theresa Rianda. He attended Somavia School, a one room schoolhouse on River Road through 7th grade. His most important “lesson,” however, came from the family’s dairy cows, Blackie and Snowball. From those two cows, Sonny learned that his life was destined for a different type of work: farming.

Sonny met his sweetheart, Lillian Bassetti, at Gonzales High School and after proudly serving in the Army, they married in 1954 and began a family. They celebrated their 63rd anniversary in December. Sonny began a small farming operation which eventually flourished into RC Farms during his partnership with Dennis Caprara. In addition to farming, they acquired Coastal Tractor. While Sonny was managing the dealership, his vision and persistence helped an engineering team develop the Mudder tractor. Knowing the importance of water in farming, they also acquired Gonzales Irrigation to service the local ag community.

Alongside his prolific career as an ag businessman, Sonny was a loving husband, father and friend. He was a faithful parishioner and volunteer at St. Theodore’s Church. Community service made up what little free time he had and he was happy to do it. He was active in the American Legion Post 81, Gonzales Booster Club, Young Farmers, Gonzales Rural Fire district, Gonzales Elementary School board, Buena Vista Grange and was a Monterey County Fair Director to name a few. In addition, he was a founding director of First Capital Bank.

More than anything he loved his family. He showed fairness, patience and generosity, and was perhaps the greatest mentor his children and grandchildren will ever know.

Sonny is survived by his wife, Lillian; children, Mike (Dia), Marilyn MacArt (Greg), Jeff (Amy), and Jean McCollom (Barry); 12 grandchildren, Kamaron (Kristen), Jacob (fianceé Natalia) and Travis Rianda, Jonathan, Patrick, and AnnClaire MacArt, Cole, Gabriel and Wade Rianda, Katarina, Georgia and Brady VonLehmden; 2 great grandchildren Kolbie and Baylee Rianda; 2 step grandchildren Nathan and Barry Jr. McCollom. He is also survived by sisters, Geraldine Pisoni and Patricia Caraccioli.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his infant son, William and infant grandson, Matthew VonLehmden.

Visitation will be held 1:00p.m. to 7:00p.m. Monday, March 12, 2018 at Struve and Laporte Chapel, 41 W. San Luis Street, Salinas, CA. 93901.

Rosary will be held 7:00p.m. Monday, March 12, 2018 at Struve and Laporte Chapel, 41 W. San Luis Street, Salinas, CA. 93901.

Funeral Mass will be 10:00a.m. Tuesday, March 13, 2018 at St. Theodore’s Church, 116 S. Belden Street, Gonzales, CA. 93926.

Burial to follow at Gonzales District Cemetery, 1000 Highway 101, Gonzales, CA. 93926.

Memorials made be made to St. Theodore’s Church, P.O. Box B, Gonzales, CA 93926

Funeral Arrangements by Struve and Laporte Funeral Home.

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