Robert William Matchett

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Feb. 8, 1942 — March 26, 2014

Robert William “Bob” Matchett died on Saturday, March 26, 2014, in Seattle. He was born in Yuba City on Feb. 8, 1942.

His parents, Laurence and Mardell Matchett, worked in the shipyards for the World War II effort in Oakland. Following the war, they established a successful business in Marysville. Bob attended UC Davis, where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agronomy. Bob received his Ph.D. 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, and one on Guemes Island, Wash. 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’s life on Guemes Island was filled with bird watching, hiking, clamming, crabbing, kayaking, looking for agates and biking. He was known as a “say-yes” guy to projects involving trail blazing and noxious-weed removal. His favorite home activities included beekeeping, planting and caring for his orchards, as well as helping others with theirs. He spent many hours volunteering at WSU-Mount Vernon Research Center in the Native Plant Garden and experimental orchards.

Bob is survived by his mother Mardell Matchett, 93, of Nevada City; 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 may be made in Bob’s honor to Tuleyome, Deep Home Place. 607 North Street, Woodland, CA 95695; Summer House, P.O. Box 1724, Woodland, CA 95776; or Yolo Basin Foundation, P.O. Box 943, Davis, CA 95617.

Special to The Enterprise

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