1945 – 2021
When you walk to the edge of all the light you have
and take that first step into the darkness of the unknown,
you must believe that one of two things will happen:
There will be something solid for you to stand upon,
or, you will be taught how to fly
We unhappily share the passing of our much loved husband, father, and friend, Gregory Rodeno. Gregory was born in 1945 in Cleveland, a city for which he long held an affinity and celebrated annually with a holiday screening of “A Christmas Story.” After graduating from the Delbarton School in Morristown, NJ, he made his way cross country to Stanford University where he studied psychology, served as student manager for the football team, and joined Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity. In 1967 he drove his Camaro convertible north to the University of California, Davis to attend law school. There he earned his JD and met Michaela Kane, whom he loved immediately. They married in 1970 and shared international travels, career successes, two wonderful kids, one worth waiting for grandchild, tending their vines, making wine under the family’s Villa Ragazzi label and, always, fun.
Regularly referred to as “the smartest person I know” by friends, Gregory was a long term visionary and planner. He saw the opportunity in vineyards on arriving in Napa Valley in 1972. The Oakville vineyard acquired in 1977 became an homage to his Italian ancestry. Surrounded by Sangiovese and Cabernet vines, a succession of farm cats, a heritage octagonal barn turned artisanal winery, a grove of olive trees, Italian cypresses, and what could be called a California take on a Tuscan villa, home was truly where Gregory’s heart was.
He deeply loved all things Italian: a series of Alfa Romeos, one Fiat 500 complete with license plates naming one of the small Italian villages in the family tree, a rosso brillante Ducati referred to in at least one letter as a “midlife crisis motorcycle,” almost any cultural research or reference, wine, and plenty of pasta. He also loved (spaghetti) westerns, aviation in all forms, Sam Cooke, classical music, education, and travel (not by sea). Most of all, he loved and cherished his family and friends, remained relentlessly proud of his children’s accomplishments, and was Michaela’s greatest fan and supporter.
Gregory quietly set us the example we strive to emulate: tender hearted, tolerant, a consensus builder, frugal but not cheap, and always in pursuit of learning. He taught us perseverance and self-reliance. We will miss him terribly and regret he is gone from our lives. He is survived by his wife, Michaela Rodeno of Napa; daughter Kate (John) Harland, and grandson Thomas of Medford, NJ; son John Rodeno of Napa, CA; siblings Victoria (Mike) Calderon, Paul (Robin) Rodeno, and Elizabeth Rodeno; and numerous nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, charitable contributions in memory of Gregory Rodeno can be made to: Brain Support Network, www.brainsupportnetwork.org, P.O. Box 7264, Menlo Park, CA 94026 in support of MSA research. We would also like to acknowledge Continuum Hospice.
To plant trees in memory, please visit our
Published by Napa Valley Register on Mar. 22, 2021.