As Highway 1 winds north from San Francisco along the Pacific coast, a rusty road sign proclaims, “Point Reyes Station—Population 350.” That’s an understatement these days, but it aptly reflects the way Jonathan Rowe, who lived here for the last decade of his life, thought about the town. Sure, parking is sometimes hard to find on Main Street and the feed barn now includes an espresso bar, but Point Reyes Station is still a very quiet place, nestled amid nature and farms, with friendly merchants, a local newspaper (two, actually), and caring neighbors. Which is how Jonathan Rowe thought the world ought to be.

I met Jonathan long before either of us lived here. We first connected in Washington in the 1970s when I was a reporter for ...

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