Leo (‘Bud’) Fratessa
Leo (“Bud”) Fratessa passed away on the evening of Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, at the age of 86, in Sonoma. He was born in San Francisco and worked with his father in and around the Portola District when the streets were still unpaved. His mother came from a French family influential in the early settlement of British Columbia in the late 1800s, the Lequimes of Kelowna. In 1960, Bud bought 40 acres on the eastside of Sonoma, north of East Napa Street and east of Lovall Valley Road. Over time, he developed the land as Lovall Valley Court and eventually built a home along Haraszthy Creek where he and his wife, Ann, have lived among the live oaks – which he refused to clear – since 1991.
Bud Fratessa’s San Francisco was a small town, connected from one school acquaintance to another: his was Sacred Heart (1944). He worked in real estate and development through the boom of new construction in the 1950s and 1960s, including the Serramonte area of Daly City and Westborough in South San Francisco. Through his support of Ann’s Maltese family, Bud played a key role in building the Saint Paul of the Shipwreck Church on Jamestown Avenue in Bayview, finished in 1962. It seemed to his family that he knew everyone, or at least everyone who did business, in the south end of the city, Daly City, and South San Francisco. Later in life, when he settled into Sonoma, it was still hard to imagine Bud without some kind of deal in the works.
The connection to real estate came from his father, also a lifetime San Franciscan. Bud was a serious baseball player and hoped for a chance at the pros until a truck ran over his foot at age 18, and he made plans for a career in physical therapy. In the days before internships, he trained for this with college at San Francisco State and a master’s degree from Stanford. When he started work at the Shriners Hospital on 19th Avenue, he realized that he couldn’t bear to see the kids suffer so much and went into real estate.
In all his business dealings, Bud was old school. He closed an agreement on a handshake and expected that to be good enough for the other side as well. Although Bud joked about everything and didn’t want to make a big deal of taking stands, he treated every person the same, no matter the background, and he would take a loss if it meant doing right by someone. He had a mind of his own, impossible to sway once he decided what he wanted to do. Bud was funny and gregarious, and people loved to be around him. He will leave behind as many good stories as he always told.
Bud married Ann Grech in 1953, and they would have celebrated a 60th anniversary in September. They had a son, Marc Fratessa, a cattle rancher in Texas; and a daughter, Nancy Fratessa Fleming, a software engineer and now math teacher in Connecticut. He had five grandchildren, Alessandra and Wyatt Fratessa, and Anthony, Elena and Luc Fleming. Through his older years, he was always “Grandpa Bud” or “Uncle Bud” to what seemed like generations of family, regardless of the exact connection. Where other grown-ups or older people might seem boring and predictable to the younger crowd, Bud was always a magnet. He played cards and told jokes and teased endlessly, always approachable and ready to laugh. He will be missed by many, including friends and family scattered all over the Bay Area and beyond.
A private memorial service was held in Sonoma on Monday, Jan. 28. The family would prefer not to receive flowers, and any gift should be sent as support to the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Orange, 480 South Batavia, Orange, CA 92868-3907.
Arrangements and services cared for by Duggan’s Mission Chapel. Inquiries can be made to them at 996-3655 or at www.duggansmissionchapel.com.
Duggan’s Mission Chapel.
Mission Cremation Service
525 W. Napa St.
Sonoma, CA 95476