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Massimo "Mike" DeSimoni
June 17, 1933 ~ August 13, 2023 (age 90) 90 Years Old
1 Tree, Flower, or Condolence has been shared with support of Massimo "Mike"'s family - View on Tribute Wall
Massimo "Mike" DeSimoni Sr., a visionary, lumber magnate and consummate family man, died peacefully on August 13, 2023, surrounded by family. He was 90 years old.
Mike will long be remembered for his contribution to the revitalization of downtown Napa. His trailblazing transformation of the Napa Riverfront 20 years ago kicked off a dramatic downtown renaissance that now draws in thousands of tourists to experience some of the best wine, food and hospitality that Wine Country has to offer. "It was the jumpstart to the rebirth of the downtown Napa area," said Mike's son, Mike DeSimoni Jr. "I believe what we see downtown today was largely due to my father's efforts. He led the way with the Riverfront project."
Born in the Italian Alps town of Cercino on June 17, 1933, Mike developed his impressive work ethic at an early age. He spent his youth tending sheep and helping his family make ends meet through difficult times brought on by World War II. After the war, Mike and his family boarded a ship bound for America in 1946, to reunite with his father, Dominic DeSimoni, who had been working in Richmond, California for ten years. Mike was just 13 when he landed on U.S. soil. He began his illustrious career in the lumber industry one year later, sweeping floors at a small yard in El Cerrito. He met his future wife, Theresa, while living in El Cerrito, as her family helped translate for the DeSimonis while they learned English.
Mike served in the United States Army during the Korean War and the couple was married shortly after his return in 1955, moved to Richmond and welcomed two sons, Michael and Daniel. They were married for 67 years until Theresa's passing last October.
In 1966, Mike went to work at Channel Lumber in Richmond - the company he would eventually purchase 16 years later after tirelessly working his way up the ranks. The budding entrepreneur moved his young family to a small ranch in Napa in 1969. Named Green Hills Ranch, this became the permanent home base for the growing DeSimoni family. Today, four generations continue to live and raise cattle on the 200-acre property. Lumber was Mike's passion and he quickly expanded his business holdings. He founded Channel Properties in Napa in the late 1970s, building apartments, offices and strip malls throughout Northern California.
In 1990, he purchased Adobe Lumber, moving it from Petaluma to American Canyon. Yet in the 2000s, Mike set his sights on his most ambitious endeavor yet: downtown Napa. "For years, my father would say, 'Why do you think all the tourists pass Napa and go UpValley instead? He felt that there was much more to downtown Napa that people were missing," recalled Mike DeSimoni Jr. He started by restoring historic downtown buildings and in 2002, Mike received an award from the Napa Valley Historical Society celebrating his restoration of the Winship Building on Main Street.
In 2005, he began planning the multi-year redevelopment of the Napa Riverfront. Upon completion, it brought much buzz to the sleepy downtown Napa, including world-class chefs Masaharu Morimoto and Tyler Florence. The project was awarded the Mixed-use Project of the Year by "Top Projects in the North Bay."
Mike was also a true outdoorsman: an avid golfer, fisherman and hunter. He owned a duck hunting club in the Suisun Marsh, where three generations of DeSimonis have hunted and gathered for family functions since the early 1960s. Mike took an annual fishing trip to Alaska and Canada and often brought his sons and grandson with him.
His many successful business ventures will continue on in the family. Michael DeSimoni Jr. is the President of Channel Lumber; his granddaughter, Bianca Simms Managing Director of Channel Properties; his grandson, Daniel DeSimoni is Director of Operations at Adobe Lumber Company; and his granddaughter, Gianna Collins runs the Green Hills Cattle & Ranch.
Mike is survived by his son, Michael and his wife Karen; grandchildren: Bianca and Dane Simms, Danny and Jamie DeSimoni, Gia and Daniel Collins, Danielle and Andrew Klammt, Vincent and Katie DeSimoni; great-grandchildren: Ryder, Ceriani, Easton Simms, Gauge and Kane Collins and Duke DeSimoni, and Mallory DeSimoni. Dan DeSimoni, his son, proceeded him in death, as did Theresa, his wife of 67 years.
Celebration of Life will be held for Mike Sr., on October 22, 2023, at the Silverado County Club from 1:00 - 5:00 PM.
In liue of flowers, Mike Sr. would want any dontions to go to his most treasured friend Johnny Miller's foundation. Mike and Johnny were dear friends on and off the golf course and he want to continue his support for children and the love of golf. JM Champ Foundation 742 Seminary Steet Napa, CA 94559 http://www.johnnymillerchampfoundation.org/registration.