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Mark Frederick Bixler, friend

Mark Frederick Bixler died on Thursday, November 16, 2017, at Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital, after a brief illness. He was 76. Born in southern Ohio on May 13, 1941 and raised in Yellow Springs, OH, Mark was the youngest of three brothers.

His father, Paul, was the librarian at Antioch College and the founder and subsequent editor of the Antioch Review for many years. His mother, Norma, was a journalist and a writer. When Mark was 17, his parents traveled to Burma where his father would help to establish a research library at the University of Rangoon.

Mark left high school a year early, having deferred his acceptance to MIT, and lived from 1958 to 1960 in Burma with his parents. This early trip would open his curious mind to new perspectives on many of his great loves: film, music, food, and photography. In Burma Mark was first introduced to Indian movies, a genre he remained enthralled by throughout his life. He amassed an enormous collection of Bollywood films; Mark's guests would often be treated to viewing the best musical scenes from his new favorites.
His home in Santa Rosa was decorated with canvases he made or his friends took in Burma, India, Europe, and California. Upon returning to America, Mark studied chemistry at MIT, leading to a PhD at UC Berkeley and to seven years teaching at Fresno State University. At Fresno State, Mark met Steve Kistler and became a founding partner at Kistler Vineyards, which over time would come to stand for excellence in California wines. At Kistler Mark performed wine analysis in the lab, but he was also the business manager, oversaw sales and marketing, and ran their mailing list. In these roles he developed friendships with people all over the world who shared his passion for wine and wine making.

Mark was a man of contrasts in the service of a well-balanced whole: a generous host who was yet a deeply private individual; a technological early adopter whose thoughtful, wide-ranging emails evoked the literary correspondence of times gone by; a lover of both opera and pop music, and of haute cuisine and (really good) comfort food. Mark had an expansive personality and a genuine interest in others that immediately made one feel at home and welcomed.

Mark is survived by his brothers, Jon and Giles Bixler; his nieces, Heather Bixler and Megan Bixler Weiskopf; and his great-nephews, Bix and Miles Weiskopf. He will be missed dearly by his family and his many friends, who became his extended family. All of us who remember him have been shaped by his quiet optimism, his commitment to excellence, and his profound appreciation of the beautiful, the artistic, and the curious. We will never forget him.

In lieu of flowers or donations, we ask that you honor Mark's memory by sharing a good meal with loved ones and raising a glass of wine to him. Family and friends plan a celebration of his life to come later in the new year. Condolences can be sent to the Bixler family c/o Kistler Vineyards, 4707 Vine Hill Road, Sebastopol, CA 95472.