Jerre J. Sears died peacefully at home with family by his side on August 21st, 2019. Jerre was born June 20, 1937 on Father’s Day in Astoria, Oregon. He spent his youth in Delight Valley where he attended a one-room schoolhouse. His family later moved to town, and he graduated from high school in Cottage Grove. He spent his time after school and during summers working at the building supply owned by his father and grandfather.
After graduating from the University of Oregon, Jerre spent three months traveling through Europe on a Vespa scooter and wrote many letters home chronicling his adventures, which his mother submitted to be printed for the local paper much to his dismay. Afterward, he enlisted in the Navy and served onboard a destroyer and an aircraft carrier.
Jerre graduated from the Haas School of Business at Berkeley and began his career as a CPA working for Arthur Andersen. There he made many friendships that continue to this day. Eventually he met Ed Scarff, and together they started a venture capital firm, Scarff, Sears & Associates.
Jerre met his wife, Joyce, while leading a Sierra Club backpacking trip. They may have gotten a bit lost under his leadership. The weather may have turned cold. And perhaps they ended up sharing a tent just to keep warm. Whatever really happened on that trip, it led to nearly 40 years of marriage.
After the birth of his two children, Andrew and Ashley, Jerre left the Bay Area and the business world behind. He and Joyce, a native of the Napa Valley, purchased a newly planted Zinfandel Vineyard along with many acres of pristine forest atop Howell Mountain near the town of Angwin. He was able to balance obtaining a PhD in transpersonal psychology with caring for the vineyard, and building a new home for his family. In 1989 he and Joyce built a winery, and in 1997 they produced the first vintage of their namesake Black Sears wine.
As all who knew him can attest, his interests were vast and various, and his love of learning deep. He had a gift for numbers and strategy that made him a success in the business world.
And yet he balanced that with a passionate, curious, and mystical side that led him to visit Russia as a young man, to try sailing, explore psychology, wine, philosophy, lead men’s groups and even attend drum circles in the great pyramids. He was a wonderful story teller, with a trove of experience to draw from.
He loved a good joke, and was a master in their delivery. Jerre always had a spring to his step and would often whistle a tune.
Friends most often remember him for his intelligence, his generosity, his humility, and his kindness. And of course, for his incredible blue eyes.
He was a man who loved his family deeply, and one of his great joys was being able to share the Howell Mountain ranch with his children and grandchildren.
Jerre is preceeded in death by his parents Maxwell and Alma Sears and his brother Dale Sears. He is survived by his wife Joyce Black Sears, sister Susan Fordyce, son Andrew Sears, daughter-in-law Stacey Castellano, daughter Ashley Jambois, son-in-law Chris Jambois and three grandchildren Lucien, Oren and Dashiell Jerre, and many loving extended family members.
A celebration of life will be held at his home at 11:30 on Friday, September 13th. In lieu of flowers, if you wish please make a donation to the Land Trust of Napa County or The Sonoma County Land Trust for the McCormick Ranch.
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