Marvin Atchley Tribute

Francis Marvin Atchley was born on August 13, 1937 in Fillmore, CA to Edna Ruth (Parker) and Marvin Carl Atchley.  He passed away on September 16, 2021 as a result of a short battle with lung cancer. He tragically lost his mother in 1940 and was raised by his father, a citrus farmer, who ingrained in him the skills for practical living.  Marv’s four older sisters doted on their only brother and helped him develop as a musician.

His childhood on farms in Ventura County fostered a lifelong love for nature and exploration. Marv graduated from Fillmore High in 1955 and was a perennial class favorite.  With a strong engineering mind, Marv attended UC Berkeley where a summer job for Ernest Lawrence, inventor of the cyclotron, led to a position at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (known then as the “Rad Lab”).  His career was spent at the Lab and he retired as the Director of Computer Operations.  Marv is a figure in the book Cuckoo’s Egg, which documents the capture of an international computer hacker.

Marv was a garage vintner early on but with his roots in farming, he knew he could produce wine on a grander scale.  In 1968, he purchased 20 acres on Spring Mountain in Napa County where he carved out 5 acres for a vineyard, first planted in Riesling which he then replaced with Cabernet Sauvignon.  Marv made his own wine for personal use for many decades but later sold his grapes to Correlation.

Marv was a remarkably talented and well-read man who mastered everything he did.  He could re-wire his house on the weekend, transcribe tuba music to a score for a euphonium on Monday, and complete a stained-glass window by Friday. With the help of his friends, he built a sailboat in his Kensington living room, constructed a dam to water his vineyard, and remodeled his humble ranch-style home into a beautiful living space.  He was a welcome dinner guest, known for his ribald ditties and poems, and the ability to play any instrument.  He devoted over 35 years of service to the performing arts in the Napa Valley; his retirement revolved around the St. Helena Community Band and the St. Helena Choral Society.  He sang, he played, he hauled chairs, he poured wine.  He could always be counted on to bring polish and professionalism to any event.  With his jaunty beret and dark mustache, he cut a dashing figure and was a beloved musician.

Marv married Judith Bramell of Berkeley, CA in 1959.  They raised two daughters and divorced in 1978.  Marv married Judith Emsley Rochios, of Oakland, CA, in 1988 with whom he spent many happy years travelling, birdwatching, singing, and enjoying their mountain-top home.    He is preceded in death by his parents, and his four sisters: Evelyn, Christine, Mary, and Joann.  He is survived by his wife, his daughter Sara Atchley Thomas (Duncan) of St. Helena, his daughter Jennifer Atchley Montoya (Angel) of Las Cruces, NM, his step-children Amanda Halte (Brad) of Oakland, and Matthew Rochios of St. Helena, grandchildren Woodrow Montoya, Jessica and Peter Halte, and Kate Rochios, as well as many nieces and nephews.

Donations in his honor are suggested to the St. Helena Choral Society.  Services will be announced at a later date.