In memoriam: Tony Wuichet, artist, lover of music and nature, longtime owner of The Recovery upholstery in Berkeley

Tony Wuichet in Alaska. Photo: Courtesy Ann-Marie Hogan

Tony Wuichet, born Sept. 15, 1941 in Dayton, Ohio, died Nov. 15, 2018, two weeks after his diagnosis of inoperable and incurable cancer.

He is survived by his wife Ann-Marie Hogan, sister Alice Theall, nieces Christina Johnson, Carrie Theall and Félicia Roger-Hogan, and nephews Michael Stein and David, Eric, and Steve Theall. His sisters, Nancy Stein and Geraldine Wuichet, predeceased him. He is also survived by a close group of friends and their grown children, many of whom had their first job The Recovery, the upholstery store on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley, of which Tony was the longtime owner.

Many of these friends joined Alice, Steve and Ann-Marie during an extraordinary eleven days of deep conversations with Tony at Kaiser Oakland, where he continued to communicate cogently, appreciatively, and without losing his wicked sense of humor.

Tony and his extended family were particularly touched by the stories of appreciation from the younger generation of The Recovery veterans: Gabe and Daniel Ladd, Scott Mahar, Josh Randall and Jessica Randall, Zeke Sanborn, and Claire, Emma and Ruth Teresko. Tony and his family were surprised and touched at their stories of how he had helped to shape their lives and the influence he had on other young members of the group, and his own nieces and nephews.

Tony was raised in Dayton by Phyllis (Cosler) Wuichet and Richard Wuichet, who worked for Dayton’s Charles Wuichet Company. He graduated from Purdue University in aeronautical engineering just when the space race with the Russians was heating up. He said he wasn’t able to take any non-engineering classes for several years, but, when he finally took a Shakespeare class, it ignited a lifelong passion for literature.

About 10 years later, he was ready for a radical change and moved, with his college buddy Mark Hanks, to Wakefield, Rhode Island. They were attracted by the Rhode Island School of Design They were looking for a college town near the ocean without a bookstore, and they named theirs “Harold.”

After leaving the bookstore, his love of furniture and design led him to the Dove and Distaff antique store in Wakefield, where Caleb and Barbara Davis made it possible for him to learn the trade he practiced for the rest of his life: upholstering fine furniture.

Tony moved to Berkeley in the late 1970s, opened the Recovery, and married Ann-Marie in 1985. He was a great lover of music, as well as the visual arts, and encouraged his wife’s entrée into jazz singing. He enthusiastically supported her decision to run for City Auditor in 1994, helping to design the campaign signs with the same lettering as that on The Recovery sign and, with one helper, placed every single street sign in the city, which he claimed was the key to her success.

He remained a “mystery man” to most of the political world. He worked seriously at abstract painting and, after his retirement, photography. He was very excited when strangers around the world viewed and commented on his work, which he had begun to post on Instagram and Flickr.

Thank you to the many friends who called, emailed and stopped by to spend time with Tony, and to those who are continuing to wrap their arms around us and tell more stories. If you are so inclined, you may contribute to the Nature Conservancy or charity of your own choice as a remembrance. The Berkeley City Council will be adjourning in Tony’s memory at its Nov. 27 meeting.