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  • Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine

Honoring the Memories & Contributions Made on Lives in Napa County

Timo Reyes

How do you tell a sad story without being maudlin or morbid? Melodie Hilton is struggling with that question as she launches

People pass into and out of our community all the time, and especially with social distancing of the past two years, we are less in touch with these life changes then we used to be. It’s hard enough to keep track of those who have moved or changed jobs, but that final transition of death has also seemed to lose real estate in our collective consciousness.

Hilton and her partner, Dave Kinnan, were regretting the loss of many of the stories about people deep-rooted in our community, and came up with this idea to be a repository for those who have passed.

They had one of those moments over wine – whipped out the napkin, sketched out an idea, and committed to doing something different for these community stories.

“Our current system of publishing obituaries is very, very expensive – costs can easily run to a $1,000,” Hilton said, “and it relies on traditional print distribution and staff. Both of which have dwindled drastically over the last 10 years. Frankly, not everyone can afford a traditional obituary.”

The hope for Napa County Obits is that it will become a place to hold the memories of Napa, offer an option of affordable obituary posts, and create readable stories of those who have passed and their imprint on time.

Hilton admits that reading the obituaries sounds morbid, but thinks it is an important place to honor the contribution all these lives and hearts have made on our home. She thinks about it like history.

Beyond obituaries, the pair also decided to create a section for pets. “They are a big part of our families, and we want to include them.”

In addition to current obituaries, the couple is working to fill in historical pieces. They are looking for suggestions on people who helped shape the course of Napa County and want to create a section specifically for that.

As the partners work out the kinks, all submissions are free. Interested participants can submit their posts on, just don’t proceed on to the payment step. They will receive the content in draft, and publish from there.

Once the website and Facebook get going, obits will range from $34 to $49. A price the couple hopes will help defray the cost of building and maintaining the website without placing a burden on grieving families.

For more information, or to make suggestions for stories, call 707-469-3805 or email



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