(Andy) Rocco Araneo of Eureka passed away peacefully at home among
family on May 13, 2020 from liver cancer at age 76.
Born on November 27, 1943, in Kew Gardens, Queens, New York, to Andrew and Marie Araneo, Andy was the oldest of four children. The Araneo family lived in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, where Andy’s promising athleticism was cut short when he contracted polio at age nine. The family moved to the Long Island suburbs when he was 13.
After starting college at St. Bonaventure University as a Physics major and trying a few other colleges, Andy graduated from the State University of New York at Stony Brook with a Bachelor of Arts in English (‘68) and a Master of Arts, also in English (‘70). He studied there for one more year towards his PhD.
While at Stony Brook in the fall of 1967, Andy met Rosalyn (Roz) Keller, beginning a relationship that lasted for 53 years. After finishing their schooling and working for a couple of years, he and Roz moved to San Francisco in 1973 where Andy became a cab driver at City Cab. He was a frequent contributor of articles and poems to The New Deep City Press, a magazine published by cab drivers in the ‘70s. In 1977, he invested in a Yellow Cab Company taxi medallion, becoming a taxi owner/operator. During that time, he attended San Francisco State, where he student-taught and earned a teaching credential.
It was also in 1977 that Andy and Roz married. In 1980, they welcomed their son, Adam, into the family. In 1981, the trio went “back to the land,” moving into a trailer on 40 acres of land in remote Weitchpec, a 45-minute drive from a phone or grocery store. While Roz took care of Adam, Andy installed a water system in their creek to create electricity for the trailer, planted a huge garden and enjoyed catching steelhead in the Klamath River. By 1983, the appeal of isolated life in the back country had worn off and the family moved 70 miles southwest to Eureka. Two years later, their daughter, Sophia, was born in Arcata.
From September 1985 to June 1986, Andy was the general contractor overseeing and participating in the building of their home in Freshwater on land purchased from dear New York friends who lived down the hill.
In the late 1980s, he took classes at Humboldt State University and added a paralegal certification to his resume. Whatever else he was involved in, Andy was always the family’s auto mechanic, carpenter, maintenance man and gardener.
In the early ‘90s, frustrated by Eureka’s unpleasant air quality and inspired by local environmental activist Ida Honorof, Andy founded a California non-profit, the Clean Air Network, with the support of the Northcoast Environmental Center. He challenged the local air quality district to hold the Simpson and Louisiana Pacific pulp mills accountable for complying with legal emissions standards. They had never been required to do this as they were always granted “variances” or permission to exceed legal emissions limits. Andy persisted, attending every variance hearing armed with facts gleaned from official documents from Sacramento and with the support of the California’s Assistant Attorney General Richard Roos-Collins. Finally, at one fateful hearing, a letter from Roos-Collins to the North Coast Air Quality Management District was delivered during the meeting, expressing support for Andy’s efforts and encouraging the district to do its job. For the first time in its history, a Simpson variance was denied. In December 1992, Simpson closed its pulp mill, citing “costly environmental demands”. (They had also lost a $5.8 M suit brought by the Surfrider Foundation in 1989.) Louisiana Pacific adopted a chlorine-free, less toxic pulp process.
During this time, Andy also wrote the monthly Clean Air News to keep his supporters updated and served as vice president on the Northcoast Environmental Center Board of Directors.
Andy was an avid golfer, always striving to improve his game. He passed his love of the game to Adam, teaching him to play when he was four. They travelled to tournaments and played many courses together. In his later years, Andy enjoyed traveling, visiting Viet Nam, Thailand, Costa Rica and Mexico. In 2016, he realized a lifelong dream when he and Sophia took a trip to Italy where they visited the birthplaces of his grandparents near Naples and traveled throughout southern Italy and Sicily.
Additionally, Andy enjoyed riding his motorcycles, listening to music (especially jazz), playing with his beloved dog, Shorty, eating Italian food, watching sports on television, being in nature and writing poetry. After buying a 25’ Catalina sailboat in 2003 and christening it Imagine, he and Roz joined the Humboldt Yacht Club and, with Shorty in her red life jacket, competed in sailboat races up and down Humboldt Bay.
For decades, the highlight of Andy’s week was the Wednesday night poker game. His quick wit, riotous sense of humor and love of laughter, matched by a cadre of fun-loving friends and intoxicants, led to great hilarity and some of his happiest times.
Andy is survived by his wife of 43 years, Roz, his son, Adam of Rancho Mirage, CA, daughter Sophia of Santa Rosa, sister Therese of Ithaca, NY, and brother Frank of Prescott, AZ. He is predeceased by his parents, Andrew and Marie, and his brother, John.
Andy’s family thanks Hospice of Humboldt for their kindness and support during his final months. Special thanks to Nurse Molly and Social Worker Sarah. Also thanks to Becky Peterson, pre-COVID caregiver.
Donations in Andy’s memory can be sent to the Northcoast Environmental Center, PO Box 4259, Arcata CA 95518 or to the environmental organization of your choice.
The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Andy Araneo’s family. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here.