Don Genesy

Obituary of Don Genesy

Donald Vernon Genesy

11 November 1959 ~ 17 March 2022


Don was a fourth generation Californian, born in San Francisco to Ray and Mary Gordon (McLachlen) Genesy. Growing up in Orinda, he attended Miramonte HS where his renowned trumpet playing led the musicals, the marching band, the jazz band, and the brass choir at Christmas. He attended Chico State on a Trumpet scholarship and graduated with an Art degree from UC Santa Cruz. Family and friends still cherish the paintings he gave to them. 


Don loved music, cooking, traveling, the Niners, the perfect cocktail, Spenser novels, all things flora, and dogs. An ardent dog lover from childhood, you almost never saw Don without a dog at his side. His indy rock collection is legend. He traveled all over the world, with a special place in his heart for Paris, Maui, DC, and Yosemite. He had an innate ability to fix just about everything, fine-tuned as a teenager by rebuilding cars and tinkering with anything that had an engine.


Don wore crazy colorful socks that would catch your eye, but he always wore the Niner socks on game day. He read dozens of cookbooks from beginning to end as if they were novels and would generously entertain, cooking extravagant, multi-course meals from scratch. He considered himself the ultimate restaurant critic. While it could take a while for him to get past a shyness, Don was always curious about people and their lives, asking intimate questions out of the blue. He carried a neverending curiosity of faith and how others perceived their God. We trust Don knows all the answers now. 


He parlayed his passion for the Art of a Garden into a 35-year career with Barry Swenson, and Swenson Builders, managing dozens of properties in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties. There wasn’t a project or task he wouldn’t personally undertake. He never stopped doing whatever he could to make the buildings better, or the tenants happier. Don helped countless friends, coworkers, and family members create beautiful gardens at their own homes. A friend shared how appropriate it is that his work will continue to literally live on in his absence.


Don was preceded in death by his parents and much-loved first wife, Wendy. After more than a decade of keeping his cancer at bay, we are so grateful to Dr. Julie Jaffe and her entire staff for the years of incredible care, understanding, and compassion. There is no greater patient advocate. 


Don was an incredible man and will be deeply missed by his wife katherine (Butler), his siblings; Rob, Dave (Sue), and Lisa Genesy, his step children; Josh (April) Mitchell, Tony (Rachel) Mitchell, Shane Luke, Rhiannon Prokop, Lauren (Jesse) Patterson, and Cameron Gardner, his grandchildren; Kalil, Felicia, Anthony, Reveille, Olivia, and Finley, and cousins; Chuck (Betsy), Mary Gordon (Jim), and Jane (Weston). His nieces and nephews; Alison, Spenser, Claire and Oliver will miss their “cool and quirky Uncle.” His grandchildren will always remember listening to their Papa read the food and restaurant sections of the newspaper while eating toast in bed, the hot tubs, glasses of champagne, watching movies and sports together, his fried chicken dinners, and exploring the Enchanted Garden he lovingly created. 


A celebration of Don will take place on 15 April 2022.  Please contact family or Swenson Builders for details. 


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A Memorial Tree was planted for Don
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Benito & Azzaro Pacific Gardens Chapel