Thomas Tavernetti

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Thomas Frederick Tavernetti, born Tomaso Frederico Tavernetti (December 23, 1889 – December 23, 1934), was the son of Swiss immigrants who was a key person involved in the establishment of the University of California, Davis.

Early life and family history

The last name "Tavernetti" is an Italian last name that points to the profession of an innkeeper or tavern owner, according to a family seal issued by the Swiss government. Thomas Tavernetti was born on December 23, 1889, on a ranch near Gonzales, California. His parents were Swiss immigrants from Moghegno, Switzerland. His father, Paul Tavernetti, was the son of Giovanni Battista Tavernetti, an unsuccessful "Forty-Niner" of the California Gold Rush. Paul was born in Moghegno in 1854 and immigrated to the U.S. in the 1880s. His wife, Giagonda Rianda, came to the U.S. about a year later. Thomas was the second of twelve children, two of whom died during birth. When he was young, Tom worked on the family farm in Salinas, California. Hunter Lane, as it was called, was also where the family home was. There was also a large ranch on Natividad Road which raised cattle. After schooling in Salinas, Thomas attended school at the University of California, Berkeley.


Thomas finished schooling at UC Berkeley in 1913, majoring in agriculture. After graduating, Thomas began working at the UC agriculture center in Davis, California. In Davis, Thomas assisted in the foundation of the UC Farm Station, which later became the University of California, Davis. He served as Assistant Dean of Agriculture from 1922 to 1934. In 1934, though, he died of pneumonia on his 45th birthday.

Remembrance: The Tavernetti Bell

There is a bell hung in his memory in the front of Aggie Stadium in Davis. After UC Davis football victories, the California Aggie Marching Band-uh! rings the bell once for every point scored during the game. The bell, referred to as the Tavernetti Bell (also known as the "Victory Bell"), was hung in his honor by UC Davis Alumni. With the construction of Aggie stadium, the bell followed from its previous location at the old site on Toomey field in 2007. [1] The bell came from the Spreckels grade school that Tavernetti attended for his schooling. After its abandonment, the school's bell was taken to Davis where it is still used today.

Thomas' son, Thomas Jr., was a World War II pilot who received many awards while serving his country. He shot down four enemy planes and was awarded the Flying Cross for his efforts. Tavernetti was the first of many in his family to be educated through the UC System. Four of his brothers attended UC Berkeley, three of whom took classes at the University Farm, which later became UC Davis. Thomas' nephew and surrogate son, Burton Anderson, also attended UC Berkeley. All three of Anderson's children attended UC Berkeley as well. One of his grandsons, too, recently graduated from the school, thus making Thomas the first of four generations at UC Berkeley. Three of Anderson's granddaughters attended UCLA. Another of Anderson's grandsons attended UC Davis as well. Anderson's son-in-law attended UC Davis.

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  1. "Namesakes: Thomas Tavernetti". UC Davis site. Retrieved 2011-09-01.