Warren Hedgpeth stopped to sleep. But above all, the accomplished and insatiably curious Sonoma County architect sketched home designs or doodled over lunch, read voraciously, and eyed vacant lots while imagining how he might turn them into places to live.
Hedgpeth also spent waking hours indulging in his love of nature, savoring his family, painting Abstract Expressionist art with his primo stereo, playing the piano by ear and reveling in music. a deep and philosophical conversation.
The particularly vigorous and multifaceted California native, who founded his architecture practice in Santa Rosa in 1983, died on April 27 of complications from aggressive cancer.
He was 69 years old.
Among those mourning the loss is Hugh Futrell, one of Sonoma County’s leading builders who has known and worked with Hedgpeth for about 35 years. “I think the news of his death is particularly shocking,” Futrell said. “He had such an electric and lively personality.”
As recently as last year, Hedgpeth was still fully committed to Hedgpeth Architects Inc, and with its staff of six. “He thought he would work until he was 80 or 90. He loved it so much,” said his wife of 45, Jennifer Hedgpeth.
But then, several months ago, the architect/artist became concerned with a numbness that spread to one side of his body and then his speech started to blur. Medical tests revealed a glioblastoma brain tumor.
His wife said she was comforted to know that he “was a person who squeezed every drop out of life, every day”.
In his professional life, Hedgpeth was a prominent 45-year-old architect whose firm designed and modernized all manner of buildings, among them the Boudin restaurant and several other tenants in Montgomery Village, and the home of Marin Community Clinics in San Rafael. But Hedgpeth’s focus and greatest passion was multi-family housing.
He was a Sonoma County leader in designing affordable, market-priced apartments. Projects include Kawana Springs, Lago Fresca, Orchard Commons and Magnolia Place apartments in Santa Rosa, and The Arbors in Rohnert Park.
Hedgpeth’s community service includes his 20 years as a member of the Design Review Board of Santa Rosa, which reviews whether proposed developments meet municipal design standards. He has also donated time to a number of non-profit social service organizations.
“I don’t think he got the credit he deserved for the improvements he made to the community,” said Santa Rosa City Councilman and former mayor and police chief Tom Schwedhelm. “But I think that’s how he liked it.”
Hedgpeth was born in San Diego in 1952 to Florence Hedgpeth, a French teacher, and Joel Hedgpeth, a renowned and extremely colorful marine biologist and conservationist who helped thwart plans for a nuclear power plant at Bodega. Head and for a time led the Pacific Marine. Station at Dillon Beach.
Joel and Florence Hedgpeth brought their family to Sonoma County for a time before moving north to Newport, Oregon. Warren graduated from high school there and, in 1977, earned a degree in architecture from the University of Oregon, where he also studied biology and fine arts.
It was at the UO that he met fellow Portlander Jennifer Wagner.
“He had a unique way of expressing himself,” she said. “And his spirit was so active and vibrant. He was unlike anyone I had ever met. He stood out for his intense curiosity for everything.
The two got along well. They married on December 29, 1976 in Portland, then began their life together there and welcomed the first of their four children.
Two years later, the young family moved to Santa Rosa because Warren Hedgpeth’s parents were living there again and Joel Hedgpeth had serious health problems. Warren Hedgpeth worked for a few architectural firms in Sonoma County before opening his own.
As passionate as he was about his work and helping to create homes for people, his profession was just one of the many facets of his life.
“He was artistic, eccentric and generous – and unique,” said developer Futrell.
One of Hedgpeth’s daughters, Caroline Hedgpeth Fuller of Sebastopol, said she considered him “a complete Renaissance man”.
Fuller is a Santa Rosa real estate broker who works in the offices of Hedgpeth Architects and has partnered with his father on a multitude of housing estates. She replaced him in her office.
Hedgpeth regularly carried a diary and throughout his life filled quite a few. He would sit in a cafe, or a park, or wherever, and he would take out his journal and draw a scene or a landscape, or the faces of the people nearby.