Rep. Mike Thompson proposes naming Cotati post office after Art Ibleto

Cotati’s post office would be named after Sonoma County’s Pasta King, the late Art Ibleto, under a bill introduced this week by his longtime friend, Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena.

An Italian immigrant and self-made man, Ibleto dished out his pasta and polenta at the Sonoma County Fair and countless benefit events, including fundraisers for Thompson, and received local, state and congressional awards for his community service.

Robust, fun-loving and industrious, Ibleto was still going to work at his commercial kitchen near Cotati days before his death Nov. 24 at age 94.

Thompson’s measure would name the post office at 502 East Cotati Ave. as the Arthur Luis Ibleto Post Office Building.

“Art Ibleto was a giant of a man who did so much for so many,” Thompson said in a news release. “Jan and I were honored to call him a friend and to work with him for so many years.”

Annette Ibleto-Spohr of Cotati said in the release her father “would be over the moon thrilled and unbelievably honored” by the dedication.

Describing Ibleto as “proud to be an American,” she said he “cherished his life here in Cotati” and was “happiest while greeting, feeding and being of service to the people of Sonoma County.“

Cotati Mayor John Moore said the city was “honored to recognize the Pasta King,” calling Ibleto “a truly inspiring example of business acumen, community involvement and charitable giving” to his hometown and throughout the county.

At 17, Ibleto deserted Benito Mussolini’s fascist army to join the Italian resistance and fight behind enemy lines to help the Allies defeat Nazi Germany in World War II.

He left Italy in 1949 and emigrated to Sonoma County with just a fifth grade education, ultimately building a small empire that included a custom butcher shop, a catering and freezer-case foods operation, restaurant and vineyards producing premium wine grapes.

“I got no degree,” he said in his autobiography, “but all you need is strong will, passion for what you do and common sense.”

Thompson is seeking support for his bill from every member of the California congressional delegation, a requirement for it to be considered by the full House, said Alex MacFarlane, his spokeswoman.

Post office naming bills are generally considered noncontroversial and easily approved, she said.

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 707-521-5457 or [email protected] On Twitter @guykovner.