Bob Barbieri, a key member of the gasoline sales and distribution family that built Redwood Oil Co. into one of Sonoma County’s largest businesses, died July 13 at age 76.
Barbieri and partner Peter Van Alyea at one point owned nearly 20 Chevron stations on the North Coast, plus four commercial, or cardlock, fueling stations, and propane and gasoline delivery services.
“He knew how to work,” said son Nick Barbieri of Ukiah, who owns Redwood Coast Fuels, a piece of his father’s former company. The other major components are owned by Van Alyea and a Southern California firm.
Bob Barbieri, who, like Van Alyea, also grew wine grapes, retired from the fuel business in 2009. His death at a care home followed a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease.
“He was man of high integrity,” said daughter Brenda Kisling of Santa Rosa. “He also very generous to people.”
When Bob Barbieri wasn’t working, which wasn’t often, he enjoyed water skiing, building and remodeling homes, travel and fine, old cars.
He was born at Santa Rosa’s former Tanner Hospital to Juliette and Peter Barbieri. The child wasn’t yet in long pants when, in 1941, his father began delivering gas for Mobil Oil. Ten years later, Peter Barbieri founded the fuel distribution service that was a precursor to Redwood Oil Co.
Young Bob Barbieri was an athletic sort. At Healdsburg High School, he competed in football and track, and was elected as Yell Leader. He also commenced falling in love with classmate and future wife Laurie Brigandi.
Daughter Kisling said her dad and some friends, all lovers of Detroit steel, formed a car club and as part of it performed community service.
Following graduation in 1956, Barbieri studied for a time at Santa Rosa Junior College and then briefly worked for a padlock company in San Francisco before beginning to drive a truck for his father, delivering gasoline and oil to farmers, ranchers and service stations.
The elder and junior Barbieris became partners in 1960. Bob Barbieri bought the petroleum delivery company upon his father’s retirement in 1976, and a short while later partnered with Van Alyea, a retailer who had purchased his first bought his first gas station in Fairfax in 1972.
The two of them grew Redwood Oil Co. into a major regional Chevron retailer and gasoline/propane distributor. Both partners also acquired vineyards. Barbieri grew grapes on three ranches in Mendocino County’s Redwood Valley, selling the fruit primarily to Constellation Brands.
He and his wife gave birth to three children. Laurie Barbieri died in 1999. The following year, Barbieri married Ramona Dal Coletto.
He had been in the petroleum business for 52 years when he sold his share of Redwood Oil Co. and retired in 2009.
One of his old, bobtail delivery trucks and the 1932 Ford coupe that he bought decades ago as a project for himself and son Nick will be on display outside a memorial service at 1 p.m. Tuesday at Santa Rosa Bible Church.
In addition to his wife and daughter in Santa Rosa and his son in Ukiah, Barbieri is survived by daughter Robin Maguire of Maumelle, Ariz.; siblings Peter Barbieri of Santa Rosa, Jeanette Barbieri of Windsor and Diane Lane of Shasta Lake; and six grandchildren.