Vallen Peter Robichaud 1957-2024

Posted on March 6, 2024 by Sonoma Sun

Vallen Peter Robichaud, age 66, Editor and Publisher of the Sonoma Valley Sun, suddenly and unexpectedly passed away on February 16, 2024 at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

Val, as he was known by most everyone, was born on July 25, 1957 at Marin General Hospital. He was the youngest of three, joining parents, Joan and Peter Robichaud, and older siblings, sister, Nicole, and brother, Keith. Val spent his early days in Kentfield, CA, until his family moved to Sacramento where he graduated from Encina High school.

A gifted writer, Val had a passion for creative writing and journalism from a very young age. In elementary school, Val created his first newspaper, “The Vault,” where he would interview family members, write innovative articles, and draw hilarious and creative cartoons, completely immersing his family in his imagination. Throughout adolescence, Val was a sweet, talented, easygoing, and very funny boy.

Val studied Journalism at San Diego State University before landing his dream job at San Francisco’s KQED radio station where he joined the team as Special Events publicist. After roughly a decade with KQED, Val decided to chase another personal dream: to become a professional chef. With a lifelong zeal and gift for cooking, Val was known by many for his culinary prowess and the delicious dishes he created. He enrolled in the culinary program at San Francisco State and in addition, Val cooked up a romance, meeting his wife-to-be in fellow student, Catherine (Cathy) Anderson. Cathy was a fun, talented, and beautiful woman, and she and Val quickly fell in love. The couple moved into an apartment in San Francisco, and were married on April 29, 1989 in a gorgeous ceremony in Arizona, Cathy’s home state.

After a few years of living in the city, Val and Cathy moved to Sonoma and together opened their very own restaurant in the neighboring town of Napa.  A sunny little breakfast spot called Cathy’s Café and its Chimney Rock location were a labor of love for the couple. Locals and tourists alike flocked to the café, famous for its specialty breakfast dishes.

On March 7, 2001, Val and Cathy welcomed their precious daughter, Anna (Annie) Danielle Robichaud. Val was the most attentive and loving dad to Annie – she was his entire world. Their father/daughter bond strengthened over time and they were true best friends. Some of Annie’s favorite memories with her dad include watching movies, specifically “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” and “Pirates of the Caribbean,” as well as family trips to the Bluejay cabin in Downieville and swimming in the river together.

Missing his days as a wordsmith, Val was drawn back to journalism when he learned that Sonoma’s free, independent newspaper, The Sonoma Valley Sun, was looking for a writer. Jumping in with both feet in the spring of 2009, Val enthusiastically took on reporting both local news and human-interest stories. A raconteur, Val could take the most mundane of stories and turn it into colorful and compelling piece, worthy of his readers’ time. In particular, his spin on the police blotter was a thing of legend, bringing wit and humor to the bar fights, small thievery, and treed cats of his small town. Val’s talent for storytelling propelled him through another decade during which he took over as sole owner, publisher, and editor of The Sun. A true labor of love, Val was dedicated to this endeavor. From chasing stories up and down the valley, to folding, bagging, and delivering newspapers, to sourcing and nurturing columnists, he did it all. He worked tirelessly to amplify the voices and stories of his community while holding truth and integrity above all else.

Val was predeceased by his wife Cathy, who passed away from cancer this past summer, and father, Peter who died in 2022.  He is survived by his daughter, Annie, his mother, Joan, sister Nicole and brother Keith as well as a host of beloved nieces and nephews.

A celebration of Val’s life will take place on June 1, 2024 at the Sonoma Community Center’s Secret Garden, 276 East Napa Street, Sonoma. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Val’s college-aged daughter, Annie, to help with continuing education:

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