Bartolomeo “Bert” Anthony Canepa Jr. passed away at his beloved Pine Mountain Lake Home in the Sierra Nevada on May 28, 2022. He was 91.
Bert was a first-generation American, born in San Francisco, California, on Nov. 22, 1930. His parents, Bert and Armida, emigrated to the United States from Northern Italy and settled in the North Beach area of San Francisco in the late 1920s. Bert graduated from Balboa High School in 1947. He answered the call of his country in 1950 and served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War until 1954. During the war, he was a sailor on the aircraft carrier USS Antietam (CV-36), before transitioning to reconnaissance missions aboard converted B-24 Liberators based in the Aleutian Islands in Alaska.
After his honorable discharge from the Navy, he joined his father as a truck farmer in the Bay Area until he went to work for Safeway Stores in the late 1950s. With the knowledge he gained from truck farming with his family, Bert became a produce manager at Safeway stores. For many years he worked at the El Camino Real Safeway in Burlingame, and later at the Safeway superstore in Menlo Park. He remained with Safeway for nearly 40 years until his retirement in the mid-1990s.
Along the way, and from the late 1960s through the 1980s, Bert worked two full-time jobs to support his family of seven children. In 1969, he created Bert’s Janitorial Services, cleaning windows and commercial offices throughout San Mateo County. He rendered these services at night and on the weekends after working long, full days at Safeway. He often took his older children with him on these cleaning jobs, instilling in them a lifelong work ethic that made all of his children successful, too. In 1999, and a few years into retirement, Bert moved from San Jose to the mountain community of Pine Mountain Lake in Groveland, California, where he remained for the rest of his life.
Bert loved the Sierras and spent much of his retirement making new friends while hiking, exploring and traveling in and around Yosemite; from Hetch Hetchy to Tuolumne Meadows. An avid reader of nonfiction and history books, he was a political gadfly all of his life. Bert served as a retail clerk union steward at Safeway, and he remained politically active in retirement. He was a frequent contributor to the editorial pages of the newspapers wherever he lived. He enjoyed many endeavors throughout his life, including sailing his sailboat in San Francisco Bay, cooking Italian dishes, gardening, and spending time with his children and grandchildren.
Bert was preceded in death by his mother, Armida, originally of Torino, Italy; his father, Bartolomeo, of Pero, Italy; and his older brother, Armond, of Santa Rosa.
He is survived by his seven children, Mark, Robert, Tracey, Meg, Bridget, Scott and Matthew; his ex-wife, Sheila Owens Canepa; his 19 grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; numerous beloved sons- and daughters-in-law; and his many cousins, nieces and nephews throughout the Bay Area.
A celebration of life will be planned in the near future.