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Food Culinary 16


Peter A. Ronzani

March 31, 1942 ~ August 19, 2018 (age 76)

A well-loved husband, brother, colleague and friend, Peter Ronzani passed away at home on August 19, 2018.  He will be remembered uniquely by everyone who knew him. Pete created his own path and marked the paths of others with his own special “signature.”

Peter was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on March 31, 1942, the son of Anthony and Helen Ronzani.  When he was eight years old, his family moved to St. Paul, MN, where he attended elementary and high school.  In 1960 he moved to California with his parents and younger sister.  After two years at the College of San Mateo, Pete joined the Navy and served as a Seabee, a member of a Construction Battalion, on the islands of Guam and Okinawa.

Upon leaving the Navy, Pete completed his bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design at San Jose State University, where he was deeply influenced by Professor N. Vanjudah and visiting scholar Buckminster Fuller. He was one of ten students selected to participate in a mentorship program initiated by “Bucky” Fuller that included constructing geodesic domes at the San Francisco Art Institute and Esalen Institute.  During this time Pete formed lifetime friendships with fellow students. After graduating, he continued the tradition of creative teaching and mentoring at San Jose State for decades, touching the lives of countless students through his courses. He was part of what has been called “the golden age of industrial design” at San Jose State.

As a designer, Peter found creative freedom in launching out on his own and working on various designs for which he held patents. In the course of his professional career, Peter’s company, Ronzani Designs, served as consultant to various technology companies from Fortune 500 companies to the latest and hottest start-up companies in Silicon Valley.  In addition to this work, Pete also designed helmets for pilots for the United States Navy.

A highlight of Pete’s career was his work with Industrial Light and Magic on the Star Wars film “Return of the Jedi.”  Pete headed the team that produced helmets and armor for the film, turning the designs of one of his former students into plastic, three dimensional models used in the movie.  His work with Lucasfilms included many other projects and led him to form lasting friendships with others who worked on the technical aspects of special effects.  Pete also served as consultant on other films such as “Wild, Wild West,” “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” and “Robocop.”

In 2013 Pete and his wife Yvonne moved to Sonoma where for the past five years they enjoyed the beauty of the wine country, visiting favorite spots, enjoying picnics, and opening their home and hearts to others. 

Throughout Pete’s life, friends and family knew how deeply Pete cared about them.

The value he placed on relationships is as much a part of Pete’s legacy as are his professional accomplishments. He was a splendid host who delighted in bringing people together so they could enjoy his delicious original “concoctions.” He will be remembered by all who sat at his table, and we will not forget the “uniquely Pete” expression in his smiling blue eyes! 

Throughout his journey with pancreatic cancer Pete offered Yvonne and all who accompanied or visited him eloquent if silent lessons on inner strength, equanimity, dignity, flexibility and courage.  He met every step of the way with the same strong spirit that he lived his life. 

Peter is survived by his dear wife Yvonne Greeley Ronzani who lovingly shared their joyous years of life together and faithfully accompanied Pete throughout his illness.  If there were a patent for marriage, Yvonne and Pete would surely have one for living their promise to love each other “to infinity and beyond.”

Pete is also survived by his sisters, Mary Ronzani of Eagan, Minnesota, and Clare “Kate” Ronzani Lescher of San Leandro, California as well as his niece and nephews and their families in Wisconsin, along with other relatives and extended family.  He is predeceased by his parents and his sister Barbara Lilly.

Ever the designer, Pete is no doubt now redesigning his new home.  Only this time he will be working with the Great Designer. Heaven will never be the same!  And as for his designer signature, there will be no more need to seek it out.  It is written all over our lives.

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