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Neville Rich: 1928 – 2020

Longtime Diamond A homeowner Neville Rich passed away in San Francisco on April 1 at the age of 92.

Rich was born in 1928 and he grew up in San Francisco. He attended George Washington High School before graduating from U.C. Berkeley in 1950. He was a veteran of the Korean War.

In 1956, he married Lila Joan Sankowich, a 1955 graduate of UC Berkeley, and together they raised four children in San Francisco, where Rich was a Certified Public Accountant.

Rich’s obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle describes him as an avid home winemaker and as “an urban cowboy before that was fashionable” and states that he was “happiest on a horse at his beloved Sonoma house.”

Rich was an active early resident of Sonoma’s Diamond A neighborhood on the east side of Sonoma Mountain, off Grove Street. The Riches purchased their land in 1968 and completed a house on the 10-acre lot in 1972. The house is still owned by the family.

“Neville was an early resident in our neighborhood and was instrumental in helping establish its ‘rec’ area,” said neighbor Wayne Schake. “He shared time between San Francisco and Sonoma. He loved horses and the outdoors which was a perfect fit for him here on the Diamond A.”

The Riches were longtime supporters of the Sonoma Land Trust.

“Neville and Lila started supporting our early work all the way back in 1991,” said Reta Lockert, the Land Trust’s donor relations manager. “They joined us on our member outings at places like Sonoma Baylands, and I ran into them in San Francisco one year at the Goldman Environmental Awards. They understood the importance of conservation at the global and local levels.”

Son Andrew told the Index-Tribune that Sonoma made his father feel “grounded.”

“He loved Sonoma because it was everything that San Francisco was not - calm and quiet, with wide-open vistas and no one in sight,” he said. “He loved the wine and restaurants and that people knew him in town.”

Neighbor Jacqueline Singer said that her parents and the Riches were good friends back in the 1970s, having all attended Cal together. When Singer was married at the Westerbeke Ranch, Neville Rich arrived at the wedding on horseback.

Rich is survived by Lila and four children, Edward, Andrew, Juli and Dan, their spouses and 11 grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Lila S. and Neville Rich Family Achievement Award Scholarship at U.C. Berkeley.

Email Lorna at lorna.sheridan@sonomanews.com.

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