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Luther Jay Rossi
Sept 19, 1935 - Nov 8, 2012
A connoisseur of humor, fun, celebration, and friendships, Luther Jay Rossi passed away at home surrounded by his family on November 8. He was 77.
Jay was generous of heart, selfless, modest, deeply dedicated to family, and a true friend and hero to many he came to know. A steadfast believer in making a difference in the causes he cherished, he encouraged others to do the same.
He enjoyed a decade of Bodega Bay weekends and thirty-plus consecutive New Year's Eve revels with his wife Marjorie, and Bill and Diane C. A loyal Stanford alum, he enjoyed long-standing Big Game bets against Cal rivals. In other pursuits he was known as the Golfin' Dolphin and French Cuff champion, co-master of the wooden sloop "Happy Talk" which plied the waters in and around San Francisco Bay in the 70's, and carried the wilderness nickname of "Squawking Blue Jay." Marjorie and Jay delighted in creative party planning. To his amusement, one gathering of amateur rocketeers organized by Jay drew the brief attention of the FBI. His family acknowledged him as the uncontested King of the Grill.
Jay had a lifelong love affair with Yosemite and found great satisfaction and pride in his work with The Yosemite Fund on the beautification and conservation of this treasured national park. He and Marjorie also founded the Rossi Family Foundation to benefit local community organizations, an expression of his conviction that all have a responsibility to contribute to the community we share.
His business career was a source of great enjoyment. He was an innovative marketing man, always in search of a good product, which he found variously in Maxwell House coffee, Basic Vegetable Products onions, his own consulting services, and most successfully, Sierra Chemical timed-release fertilizer. He happily traveled the world to share with those in need of his products, many of whom were unaware of such need until they met Jay. He treasured the camaraderie and fun shared with his colleagues throughout his career. He readily attributed his success in equal parts to luck, skill, and his alma mater Stanford University ('57, MBA '62) to which he gave back as a volunteer and donor. The constant presence of Stanford propaganda in the family home no doubt steered many Rossi children and grandchildren toward the Farm for their degrees. None dared attend Cal, although one was "lost" to USC.
Bay Area native and fourth-generation Californian, only child, husband once and forever to Stanford sweetheart Marjorie, father five times, and grandfather, AKA Cali G, G-Unit, and Mountain Grandpa, to twelve.
Grateful for his full and happy time on this earth, Jay stated simply and modestly, "I've had a good life." We will all miss him and cherish the time we spent together. From Marjorie, a special toast to "Mr. Wonderful."
A memorial celebration is being planned for family and friends in the spring.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Yosemite Conservancy at 101 Montgomery Street, Suite 1700, San Francisco, CA, 94104 (yosemiteconservancy.org); or the
at 800-227-2345 or cancer.org.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle from Nov. 17 to Nov. 18, 2012