• Photo by Jim Kirkland

Pete and Paula Uccelli

2015 San Mateo County History Makers

As community leaders with a sense of humor, a fiercely independent state of mind and an unparallel spirit of generosity, Pete and Paula Uccelli (and their Pete’s Harbor) are true symbols of San Mateo County.

Pete and Paula Uccelli were married in 1986 in front of 600 enthusiastic guests. Over the years, the two proved to be a very special team as they operated their 280-slip marina, created a 7,000-square-foot restaurant and overcame the many obstacles associated with running Pete’s Harbor.

The greatest threat came from the State of California. By the middle of the 1960s, the State Lands Commission had “discovered” Pete’s Harbor. They claimed that although in the 1850s the land was classified as “swamp and overflow,” it ought to have been declared “tide and submerged.” Throughout the 1970s, as the drama unfolded, a grass roots campaign emerged from Peninsula people to “Save Pete’s Harbor.” Finally, in 1983, Governor George Deukmejian signed legislation giving Pete rights to most of the property.

The “Save Pete’s Harbor” movement was indicative of Pete and Paula’s popularity. The couple volunteered for a myriad of community and charitable functions. Pete and Paula believed the young people of the community were the keys to the future, and so they formed the Uccelli Foundation to award scholarships to kids in San Mateo County’s 4-H and Future Farmers of America organizations. Moreover, they got the idea to create the Sequoia Awards, and, with other local leaders, decided to recognize volunteerism, community minded businesses, outstanding citizens and outstanding high school seniors. Over the last 20 years, the Sequoia Awards have granted over $1.5 million in scholarships to local students. The Uccellis’ reason for their meaningful commitment was and is “the future of tomorrow is the young people of today.”

On September 22, 2005, Pete passed away. Pete’s eulogies stressed his jovial nature, visionary qualities, confidence and especially his incomparable generosity to causes and to people too. In 2012, Paula and the Uccelli Family made the decision to finally sell Pete’s Harbor to make room for a residential complex.

Paula still remains active in the Redwood City community. She has chosen to support the Historical Association because of its work in preserving the past, especially immigration history on the Peninsula, and providing hands-on learning experiences for school children.