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John Sabatte Jr., Berkeley Farms creamery heir was 95

Friday, November 30, 2012

The last of five sons of Berkeley Farms founder John Sabatte Sr. has died. He was 95 and died Nov. 20 in an Oakland care center. His French immigrant father and mother, Mary, established the iconic Bay Area company as South Berkeley Creamery in 1910 at 58th and Adeline streets in Oakland at a time when milk was delivered to people’s homes by horse and buggy.

(The un-dated photo is of the company’s popular fountain restaurant in Emeryville, which spawned others serving up its “Berkeley Farms Derby” and other ice cream treats in Alameda, Walnut Creek, Tracy and Novato.) Sabatte Jr. went to work for the creamery while in high school in Albany, delivering milk from a Model T before school.

After a stint at UC Davis he went off to World War II, where he was an Army staff sergeant and served with General George Patton in North Africa and Italy, before returning to the family business. The sons took over the company in 1957 when their father died. It had been renamed Berkeley Farms the year before.

At about the same time, its signature broadcast ad appeared, featuring the voice of Mel Blanc intoning, “Farms in Berkeley?,” followed by a cow’s “Mooo!” In 1998, the company was merged with Dean foods, and moved to its current plant in Hayward. (Below, Model T delivery trucks lined up in the 1920s, from the Berkeley Farms website.) Obit: Mercury News

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