San Francisco Chronicle
Robert “Bob” Praetzel
December 18, 1925 - February 4, 2023
Robert “Bob’ Praetzel, WW2 veteran and longtime Marin County attorney and environmental leader, passed away peacefully on February 4 at his home in Kentfield, surrounded by his family.
Bob lived life to its fullest, a life defined by adventure, integrity, and service. Born in San Francisco on 12/18/25, Bob lived most of his life in Marin County, where as a youngster his family moved frequently between local communities as his father sought work during the Great Depression.
Growing up during hard times, Bob spent his early days in Marin exploring Mt. Tam and fishing and hunting on San Pablo Bay. His father instilled in him a love for nature and taught him that hunting was only to put food on the table. Bob recalled one Thanksgiving meal when his family was thankful to share a fat squirrel his father had caught.
Bob attended grammar school at Red Hill, St Anselm’s, and LarkspurCorte Madera. While living in Larkspur in his early teens, he would ride the train to attend Tamalpais High in Mill Valley. Dropping out of high school in 1942 to join the war effort, Bob worked a short stint at the Sausalito shipyards before joining the Navy, where he spent 3 years as a signalman on a tanker, delivering fuel to allied forces in the South Pacific.
Once the war ended, with no high school degree but with the help of the GI bill, Bob enrolled at Marin JC, then went on to UC Berkeley and finally Hastings Law school, where he received his law degree.
In 1954, Bob joined the small San Anselmo law office of his mentor Wallace Myers, launching a 60+ year career of helping those in need of his expertise in Estate Planning and Probate. While a student at Berkeley, Bob met the love of his life Nancy Donnelly, and they married several years later in 1957. They went on to raise 4 children and spend the next 66 years together.
Bob lived a bountiful life filled with countless remarkable experiences. These included backpacking the Sierra Nevada range from 1948 on (way before it was a “thing”), flyfishing (tying his own flies), duck hunting, hiking every nook of his beloved Mt Tam, gardening, coaching his kids’ sports teams, and traveling extensively with Nancy through 6 continents.
Family was always the most important thing to Bob. Although he was immensely proud of his Cochrane family’s deep roots in Marin after immigrating from Ireland in 1868, it was his immediate family that provided him the most pride and joy. He also kept in close contact with siblings and many relatives and was happiest at family gatherings.
Family vacations entailed piling 6 backpacks and gear into the station wagon and heading up to the High Sierra to hike for 2 weeks throughout the backcountry. Bob didn’t believe in tents as he felt sleeping under the stars on a bed of pine needles was priceless. Although shy by nature, Bob was appreciated for his humble, down-to-earth personality, and he had countless friends from all walks of life. Bob loved a great gathering of friends and colleagues and usually was the last one on the dance floor.
Bob loved his sports teams, namely the SF Giants and Notre Dame football. He and his family spent many cold windy nights at Candlestick Park, and he considered his 1995 trip with his son to South Bend to see a Notre Dame football game a highlight of his life.
Even into his mid 90s Bob stayed active: fishing, tending his vegetable garden daily, cooking gourmet seafood meals, and attending his grandkids’ sporting events. He also greatly enjoyed his weekly lunches with friends.
Service to others was a priority to Bob, and he gave countless hours and contributions to charitable organizations, including the San Anselmo Lions Club, the Family Service Agency, the Marin Cancer Society, Hospice by the Bay, and the Marin General Hospital Foundation. He also served as President of the Marin Bar Association and founder and President of the Estate Planning Council. In addition, he worked hard to raise money for the Trust for Public Land, Cal Trout, Ducks Unlimited, Resource Renewal Institute, and M.A.L.T.
As a lifelong environmentalist, Bob was most proud of the pro-bono work he and a few friends took on in the 1960s, where he was instrumental in saving the Marin headlands from Marincello, a high-rise development planned by Golf Oil and backed by the County of Marin. The area that would have become a prefab city of 30K+ people remains today as a pristine valley called Gerbode Preserve. This story was beautifully documented in the awardwinning film “Rebels with a Cause” (https://www. newday.com/films/rebelswith-a-cause).
Although Bob’s experiences and stories are too many to recount here, they are easily accessible through the oral history of his life, recently published by UC Berkeley Library: (https://update.lib.berkeley.edu/2021/03/17/ robert-praetzel-marincounty-lawyer-who-stoppedmarincello/).
Bob Praetzel will be deeply missed by his many friends and his loving family: his wife of 66 years, Nancy, his four children, Susanna, Matt, Eugenia (Boyd Davis), and Anne Marie (Francisco Di Domenico), and his grandchildren, Nellie Praetzel, Caroline Praetzel, Sam Rosloff, Giacomo Di Domenico and Wyatt Davis. He is also survived by his sister, Lola Saylor, his brother, Patrick Praetzel, and several nieces and nephews. He was pre-deceased by his brother Conrad Praetzel. Bob’s family, including Bob, will be eternally grateful to Elenoa Maisena for her kind and tender caregiving during his final days. At Bob’s request there were no services, but there will be a celebration of his life at a later date.
Please direct any donations on his behalf to: Cal Trout (https://caltrout.org), Resource Renewal Institute (https://www.rri.org), Marin Agricultural Land Trust (https://malt.org/), Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (https://www.jdrf.org/, or a charity of one’s choice.