Cecilia Benedicta Kuhn 1956 – 2017

Cecilia Benedicta Kuhn

Cecilia Benedicta Kuhn, 61, finally made her peace with mortality at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital on May 4. It was not a negotiated settlement: for better or for worse she butted heads with death until the last hour. Finally, she succumbed to the complications of cancer.
Born in Sacramento but raised Arkansas, in 1974 Cecilia married George Henningson and graduated from Central High in Little Rock. The young couple soon moved to Houston for work, but four years later, in 1978, Cecilia migrated alone by Greyhound bus to San Francisco.
Supporting herself in the Bay Area with temporary clerical jobs (her shorthand, typing, and copy editing skills were extraordinary) Cecilia also frequented the nascent punk rock scene. Already an excellent pianist, guitarist, and singer, she heard an all female band needed a drummer, took some drumming lessons and signed on, spending several years of episodic touring through North America and Europe with Frightwig.
But the life of touring is hard, and rock star fame elusive. In early 1988 Cecilia landed a one year contract, subsequently renewed annually for almost a decade, with PG&E. At PG&E, she met and partnered with Carl Butz, the man who would become her husband in 2006.
In the City, Cecilia was always pining for a place in the country. In 1994 she and Carl bought a cabin near Downieville. Moving to that mountain town in 1997, it was a couple of years before they were able to occupy their rustic, off-grid abode on a year-round basis. Cecilia could begin several years of gardening, sewing, reading, composing songs, and, not surprisingly, entertaining her new locality with musical performances. She had added the accordion to her repertoire during the late 1990s and she was to sing at a variety of venues, either solo or in concert with other local musicians between 2000 and 2010.
Well known in Bay Area musical circles, Cecilia kept that aspect of her life private from most in the mountains. But music came with her. We remember with great fondness the rather spontaneous and eclectic gatherings at Tom’s Bakery on Friday evenings where she would perform. Soon she teamed with Pete Prince, John Johnsen and Brandt Larsen to become area regulars.
The lure of a decent retirement sent her to work for the Plumas National Forest in 2005. In early 2006, she took a position administering transportation projects for the Sierra County Planning Department. She was living the dream: a job with benefits in Downieville. A year later the Sierra County Superior Court stole her away with a better offer. She became the clerk responsible for overseeing all the paperwork involved with civil cases heard by Sierra County judges. In her capacity as ‘Officer of the Court’ from 2007 through her illness-forced retirement in 2015, she gained the respect and admiration from all who she assisted.
Predeceased by her parents, Robert Kuhn and Sally Cooper, Cecilia’s survivors include her sisters Pam Lewis and Barbara Bakarich in Sacramento, numerous nieces and nephews around the U.S., and her husband Carl Butz.
Donations in Cecilia’s honor could be made to any organization dedicated to the cause of promoting the interests of women and bringing down the patriarchy. Memorial celebrations of Cecilia’s life are being planned in both Downieville and San Francisco. The times and locations for these events will be published when they become finalized.