Genevieve Donlon Roche, M.D.
Genevieve Donlon Roche, M.D.
Oct. 2, 1939 – Sept. 14, 2012
Longtime Sonoma Valley resident, physician and Roche Winery co-founder, Genevieve Marie Roche M.D., passed away at her family’s home Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, with her husband and children at her side. She was 72.
Genevieve was born in 1939, to Oxnard farmers John and Elvira Donlon. She was the eldest child of this first generation American family as her father emigrated from Ireland in 1921. Growing up in Oxnard, Genevieve would spend her free time playing with her younger brother Shane, swimming at the Ventura State beach, playing various sports and mastering the piano. She excelled in school, both academically and in team sports. She was a star basketball player on her girl’s high school team and also served many aces for her school team on the tennis court. She became the first college graduate in her family, and when she graduated from medical school in 1966, she was the only woman in her graduating class. She would practice pathology for the next 30 years at Sonoma, Napa, Petaluma and San Francisco hospitals.
Genevieve’s many talents went far beyond the skills she used in her medical practice. She was an accomplished musician, having mastered the piano, church organ, and accordion. Many of her friends and family remember her as a gracious host to numerous planned and impromptu dinner parties, but perhaps remember more the amazing meals she would prepare as a gifted chef. Her family’s farming background must have influenced her green thumb, because she grew beautiful roses and vegetables that she often started from seed in her greenhouse. She had a lifetime thirst for knowledge, always reading both fiction and non-fiction books, making her a whiz at crosswords puzzles and trivia night at the local pub.
Genevieve was active in her children’s schooling, serving as PTA board president for St. Francis Solano School and planning many successful fundraisers during her tenure. She was very involved with the day-to-day operations of Roche Winery. She entertained thousands of Roche Winery customers throughout the years and many became close friends. Outside of the winery, she was active in the wine industry, by helping form the Carneros Quality Alliance and was instrumental in petitioning the California State Legislature to name a portion of Highway 121 the “Carneros Highway.”
She loved her family and her Catholic faith. She is survived by her husband, Joseph; daughters, Mara, Sara (Kyle Killeen) and Carrie; son, Brendan (Colleen); brother, Shane Donlon; and her many nieces and nephews, cousins in Ireland and beloved granddaughters, Elizabeth, Kara and Clare.
For funeral Mass information, please call Roche Winery at 935-7115.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in Genevieve’s honor, payable to the Poor Clare Monastery of Saint Mary of the Angels, Drumshanbo, Ireland. Donations may be mailed to Roche Winery, 122 W. Spain St., Sonoma CA 95476. The Roche family will arrange delivery of these donations to the Poor Clare Monastary in Ireland.