Philanthropists Peter and Patty Mattson, who lived at Sea Ranch along the Sonoma Coast for decades, shared a passion for redwoods and open space. Pete, as he liked to be known, was a longtime board member of Sonoma Land Trust as well as a board councilor of Save the Redwoods League. Patty worked with Pete both in his business and in conservation and, together, they made a formidable team. In 2016, Patty passed away with Pete following her in early 2021. Recently, Sonoma Land Trust and Save the Redwoods each received $1 million from the couple’s estate.
“Land preservation and protection has been at the forefront of my parents’ charitable objectives for as long as I can remember and Save the Redwoods and Sonoma Land Trust have always had a huge place in their hearts,” said their son and daughter, Andy and Marianne Mattson, in a joint statement. “While our parents had many passions, philanthropy was chief among them; throughout their lives, they continuously sought to contribute to organizations making a positive impact. It was important to them that this impact continue.”
Pete, the founder of leading food and beverage product developer Mattson & Co., served as Sonoma Land Trust board chair from 2005−2009, during which time, the organization was actively raising $20 million to purchase the 2,300-acre Sears Point Ranch in the Baylands and $32 million to acquire the 5,630-acre Jenner Headlands Ranch along the coast — the two largest acquisitions in the Land Trust’s history.
In 2011, Pete and Patty shared why supporting Sonoma Land Trust had long been important to them: “Sonoma Land Trust helps us be part of ensuring that Sonoma County will always be the beautiful and special place that we love. We are confident that our contributions will add important acreage to Sonoma County’s protected landscapes for future generations to enjoy.”
Pete also played a key role in protecting more than 50,000 acres of forest through his service on the board of the Redwood Forest Foundation and as a councilor of Save the Redwoods League. Peter joined the League’s council in 2003 and was an active member of several key committees for 20 years before joining the board in 2014.
“Pete and Patty believed deeply in the power of philanthropy to transform an organization and became the League’s very first donors to the Forever Forest Campaign at the $1 million level,” said Sam Hodder, Save the Redwoods League President & CEO. “Pete was proud to be able to set the pace early on for the success of this campaign. We will always be grateful to Pete and Patty for their vision, leadership and extraordinary generosity.”
The Mattsons’ shared passion for redwoods can be traced to their respective childhoods. Larger-than-life Pete grew up in Los Angeles, where he once said there “were only five trees in the whole neighborhood,” but he sought out each one to climb and play in. Patty came by her affinity for forests at home — her family owned a forested ranch on Skaggs Springs Road between Lake Sonoma and Stewarts Point. After meeting at UC Berkeley, the couple married in 1962, settled on the Peninsula and explored the North Coast every chance they could. In 1984, they become residents of Sea Ranch. Andy and Marianne shared their memories of the long family road trips to many national parks when they were growing up. “Our parents taught us, early on, the value of public lands.”
“We are very grateful to Pete and Patty for all they did and contributed toward land conservation through the years,” said Eamon O’Byrne, Sonoma Land Trust executive director. “While they are deeply missed, they left an incomparable legacy of which their family can be very proud.”