Robert William "Bob" Matchett was born in Yuba City, California, on February 8, 1942, and died on March 26, 2014, in Seattle, Washington.
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His parents, Laurence and Mardell Matchett, worked in the shipyards for the WWII effort in Oakland, California. Following the war, they established a successful business in Marysville, California. Bob attended the University of California, Davis, where he received his bachelor's and master's degrees in agronomy. Bob received his PhD from Colorado State University, Fort Collins. His doctoral subject was the "Grandpa Gene" in barley, earning him the affectionate nickname "Barley Bob."
Bob enjoyed spending his time in the rural outdoors. He and his wife, Holiday, married in 1964, and lived on three farms in Yolo County, California, and one on Guemes Island, Washington. They raised their children to appreciate the value of the natural world around them. Together they traveled to every continent except Antarctica, always enjoying the cultural and natural aspects of the places that they explored, many of which involved bird watching.
During his career he was a cereal breeder ("disrupting the sex life of plants," as he liked to say). He cooperated worldwide with other plant breeders in producing new varieties of grain (barley, wheat and triticale). Many of these new varieties were adapted to thrive in specific environmental conditions. His 40 productive years were spent with Northrup King Seed Company and Resource Seeds, Inc./Goldsmith Seed Company. He cooperated with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center. In 2012, he was honored by the American Society of Agronomy for distinguished contributions to the advancement of California agriculture.
Bob is survived by his mother Mardell Matchett, age 93, of Nevada City, California; his wife of 50 years, Holiday Wagner Matchett; his sons Clayton (Shea) Matchett and Elliott (Mai) Matchett; his foster sons Jah (Bank) Ansavananda and Gee (Thanh) Ansavananda; his sisters Gail (Rob) Yelland and Lynne (Kerry) Nugent; his niece Cara (Brian) Rowley and grand-nephew Miles, niece Sarah Farren, and nephew Matthew (Alisa) Rodman. He is also survived by his grandchildren Brian Matchett, Iliana Salazar, Rylie Matchett Aiden Matchett, Arlo Matchett, Peregryn Matchett, Juniper Matchett, Jaya Ansavananda, Tara Ansavananda, and Taye Ansavananda.
Donations in Bob's honor may be sent to:
Sutter Buttes Regional Land Trust, P.O. Box 3359, Yuba City, CA 95992-3359
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Published in Appeal Democrat on Apr. 6, 2014