Roy Chavez, born Jan. 17, 1917, in Alameda, Calif., to Emily and Apolonio Chavez, passed away peacefully at his home in St. Helena on June 1, 2012.
Roy is survived by Mary, his wife of 63 years, his sister, Mabel Leeds of San Francisco and numerous nieces and nephews.
Roy moved with his family to the Ink House property on Whitehall Lane in Rutherford when he was in the third grade. He attended St. Helena Elementary School and graduated from St. Helena High School in 1936.
He grew up working on the family vineyard and orchard, learning the art of viticulture at an early age. He worked as a lineman for PG&E until his retirement in 1963, at the same time, helping his brother, George, on the family ranch. The brothers delivered grapes to Charles Krug Winery and the Napa Valley Coop for many years.
With his keen intellect, Roy could fix or fabricate any implement or machinery necessary for farming. Not only was he an excellent mechanic and electrician, but he was also a master machinist and blacksmith. He passed his love and knowledge of viticulture on to his nephew, Frank Leeds, who is now farming the land that Roy loved so much.
In his later years, Roy became the dry-farming guru at Frog’s Leap Winery, where his grapes have been an integral part of its wines for the past 25 years. His words of wisdom regarding grape growing have been, and will continue to be, quoted in our valley for years to come.
Following Roy’s wishes, there will be no public service. However, friends are invited to join Roy’s family in a celebration of his life at Frog’s Leap Winery at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 14. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Napa Valley Hospice.