Cover photo for Robert H. Ferrari's Obituary
Robert H. Ferrari Profile Photo
1926 Robert 2023

Robert H. Ferrari

November 8, 1926 — February 21, 2023

Born to Frank and Rose (Dauenhauer) Ferrari in San Francisco. He was the first of 4 and is survived by his siblings JoAnn, Betty, and Bill. At age 21 and 20 his parents were inexperienced, and it was the roaring 20s, soon followed by the Great Depression which were formative for his generation. Bob spent much of his youth with both sets of grandparents and had a lot of attention from his aunts and uncles.  He was part of the Italian community culturally. Through his mother’s side he was influenced by some real business genius in her brothers, who, with little formal education, grew hops, and invented a hop picking machine that is still in production, among other innovations.
When they moved to San Jose his first love was sports. He excelled in CYO baseball and basketball leagues, later at Bellarmine College Prep, and finally, at the University of Santa Clara. He held a collegiate record for the fewest errors at third base, given the most chances, for decades. He picked prunes in the orchards to add to the family finances and worked on the hop farms with his uncles as a teenager.
He joined the army paratroops in January 1945. His training included jumping with a messenger pigeon under his arm. The goal was to land with both himself and the pigeon intact.  He was not always successful with the pigeon… He was honorably discharged as a Private First Class. He returned to Santa Clara University graduating in the Class of 1949 to 1950 with a BA in Business, a minor in philosophy, and a letter in Varsity baseball. He later entered a degree program at Stanford. 
Bob played the minor leagues for the Willows Cardinals in 1950 with a hope for making the Majors. But his new wife, (August 20, 1950), Helen (Simmons) (D, 12/19/2010), said she wouldn’t live a minor league lifestyle. Bob decided he wanted to build a good family with Helen and the minor league baseball life was not the best way to support that. They were successful with building a strong family and they were married for 60 years. 
He went into business as a CPA for a liquor wholesaler. He was an odd mix of accountant, gambler and entrepreneur. Much of his life was centered in the liquor business as you might expect from his relatives raising hops. Kids were coming along – Bob, (spouse, Marina Ronda), Linda, (spouse, Mike), Kathy, Sue, and Janet, (spouse, Dirk). It was the boom of the post war 50s and 60s. They had many friends and were involved in their community. They threw epic parties with sought after invitations. These were memorable for the fun and relationships enjoyed and talked about with pleasure. Neighborhood parties with tricycle races may or may not have injured the inebriated but were always the talk of the town. At the BBQ with a drink in hand is the classic picture of him. He created a family BBQ sauce, taught us ravioli making, Italian sausage cooking, and wine tasting. Every night the home was filled with Dixieland music and other popular jazz. He even went through a Caruso period forcing his older children to listen to his personal version of the famous tenor.
He started CYO baseball and basketball at Holy Spirit Church in Fremont. He was known as “coach” to many years of kids. He coached, ran swim meets, suffered through child gymnastic competitions, turned the double play pivot until 2nd base was a hole. He suffered with love the crying kids while he tried to get their frozen ski boots on them in Tahoe. He rubbed hot olive oil on the foot injuries of his child athletes. He and Helen were professional, world class, friend makers. Many of their neighbors, work partners, and even friends going back to grammar school stayed in touch until he outlived them.
He went into the retail liquor business. At his widest he had 5 liquor stores and a car dealership. These businesses funded all of his family activities, an income for his parents, and a hobby of horse race betting. He loved the mathematics of handicapping the horses and it kept his mind sharp throughout his life.
He loved golf. They were members at Castlewood Country Club in Pleasanton Ca. and later, at Riverview CC in Redding. Running was the next passion in mid life. The structured accountant in him started running around the pool in the backyard and later at the track. One hundred yards, puff, puff. One lap, a mile, a 5K, a 10k. He had good form and he improved his health. His high point of running pride was carrying the Olympic Torch as it traveled to Salt Lake City for the XIX Winter Olympics in 2002. Ultimately the running was curtailed by several knee and hip replacements. Golf became the winner of his athletic attention. 
They sold off the stores except one in Fremont, The Wine Merchant. Far ahead of the current wine craze they had a full wine cellar and rare imported beers which nobody had in those days (1970s). The Wine Merchant fostered it’s own family atmosphere among the employees, regular customers and friends who came in, and other merchants in the shopping center. 
After “retirement” they moved to Monterey where he ran the horse racing concession for the State. There was a period of time where he shared ownership in a few thoroughbred racehorses. You can add the Kentucky Derby parties to his list of classy and classic gatherings. His last few working years took him to Pebble Beach. That beautiful course could be seen as an icon of his life aspirations. When he actually retired, they moved to Redding where many deep friendships blossomed across the community. He enjoyed living near 3 of their 9 grandchildren and 9 of his 15 great grandchildren. After Helen died he moved to the University Retirement Community in Davis Ca. just in time for Covid to slow the social life, although he enjoyed some good friendships in that community as well.
Business, athletics, family, community - these collections of relationships summarize what he valued most. He was a lifelong member of the Catholic Church which benefitted from his generosity.
96 years is a full life, full of highs as well as lows but, in the end, surrounded with love by his children and at peace with his God, he slipped quietly into eternity.


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