Willie Benedetti, the lifelong Sonoma-Marin rancher and greater than fiction, cigar-puffing country character perhaps best known for his enormous, smoked-then-grilled turkey legs, died Friday at 69.
Benedetti, a partner in Benedetti Farms and in the Willie Bird’s Restaurant consistently praised as one of the region’s greatest old-school bars and dining spots, succumbed to an aggressive abdominal cancer.
“You’re talking a legend,” John Zimmerman said Friday from behind the bar at Willie Bird’s in Santa Rosa. A bartender there for 31 years, Zimmerman said Benedetti was beloved by legions and was renowned for falling asleep from apnea without a Dutch Master cigar falling from his mouth. Read more