Susan Giammattei grew up in a family of pioneer Geyserville grape growers and winemakers, but found her joy helping plant and prune the gardens of Golden Gate Park.
Born into the Nervo family, whose immigrant generation settled and sank roots in northern Sonoma County in 1896, Giammattei worked for decades directing city landscaping crews that maintained the San Francisco Botanical Garden.
“She was the first woman hired as a parks supervisor” in San Francisco, said her husband, Joe Giammattei. They met about 15 years ago while both were supervisors at Golden Gate Park, and married in 2011.
Residing in Petaluma, the Giammatteis were headed home from a grocery store Thursday when a car ran into theirs. The couple wasn’t hurt, but as Susan Giammattei stood on the sidewalk following the collision she was hit and killed by another car.
She was 58.
The former Susan Nervo was born and grew up in San Francisco. It was siblings of her father, Ed Nervo, who grew grapes and made wine in Geyserville. The 1908 Nervo winery is now part of Trione Vineyards & Winery, but the Nervo family still owns about 14 acres of vineyards nearby.
Young Susan Nervo attended Catholic schools in San Francisco, then studied horticulture at San Francisco State University. She made Petaluma her home in 1984, commuting to her work at Golden Gate Park.
She had worked for the city 36 years when she retired three years ago. Her love of plants led her to volunteer at the Luther Burbank Home & Gardens in Santa Rosa.
Susan Giammattei also was a regular blood donor and someone who cared about, and for, animals.
Her husband said he accepted that her first love was her 1960 Chevrolet Impala. The couple traveled often to the Hot August Nights classic car show in Reno, and Susan Giammattei was an officer in Cruisin’ the Boulevard, Petaluma’s salute to American Graffiti.
Said Joyce Giammattei of Santa Rosa, one of Joe Giammattei’s two daughters and four granddaughters, “She was really a caring person.”
Visitation is from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Parent-Sorensen Mortuary & Crematory, 850 Keokuk St., Petaluma. A Vigil Service is at 7 p.m.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. Friday at Holy Name of Jesus Parish, 1555 39th Ave., San Francisco. Interment will be at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma.
Chris Smith is at 707-521-5211 and firstname.lastname@example.org.