EUREKA, Calif. (KIEM) — Bob Laffranchi, the founder of the Loleta Cheese Factory, passed away last week surrounded by his family after suffering a stroke. He was 74 years old.
Bob Laffranchi was born February 17th, 1947 and was a third generation dairy farmer. He graduated from Ferndale High School before moving on to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He went on to become a teacher at Eureka High School for 10 years, and during that time a student asked how to make cheese. Then in 1982, the Loleta Cheese Factory opened its doors and was a Humboldt County landmark for 37 years.
“He always said he was a teacher whether he was in the classroom or not. You know, talking about the history of Humboldt and how cheese was made. He really just liked meeting people and hearing about where they’re from. That was his absolute favorite job in the whole world was to go into the gardens and visit with people,” according to his daughter, Michelle Yvonne Laffranchi.
Laffranchi also served in the army for 3 years and was stationed in Thailand during the Vietnam War, something he was extremely proud of. He will receive full military honors. The family says funeral details are still being worked out, but his final resting place will be St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in Ferndale.
“Right at the top, my grandparents have their plot and his dad is buried there. It overlooks the whole valley and you can see my grandmother’s house from there, the house he grew up in,” Laffranchi adds.
Bob Laffranchi is survived by his wife Carol, his two daughters Michelle and Nicole, his mother Mary Ellen, and his brother and sister Don and Annette.