School 14

Marco G. Bicchieri

October 3, 1928 ~ November 11, 2019 (age 91)


Marco G. Bicchieri died peacefully at home of congestive heart failure on November 11, 2019.  He was born in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1928, to Leone Andrea Bicchieri, an Italian diplomat, and Anna Yelitch, the daughter of a Croatian railway contractor.  He received his early schooling at a Barnabite academy in Florence, Italy, and then later at an international school in Zugerberg, Switzerland.  His education was interrupted by World War II, during which time he lived with his family in northern Italy and was active in the Italian resistance.  Soon after the end of the war, he and his family left Italy and returned to their home in northern Tanzania. 

As a young adult in 1950s East Africa, Marco was a professional big-game hunter, leading safaris of American doctors in search of "Big Five" game trophies.  He also worked as a miner and company manager for his family's gold mines in northern Tanzania and grew produce on their land for local and international markets.  His activities involved living among and working with many of the indigenous peoples of the area, including most intimately, the Hadza -- hunter-gatherers who were, at that time, still living a traditional lifestyle.  From these experiences, he became a contractor on government projects related to public health and economic development, and in that role, founded the Turoramba Trading Company, the first interracial company in the country. Turoramba gave indigenous farmers direct access to global markets, circumventing the traditional Arab and Indian middlemen who, before long, invited him to leave.  He immigrated to the United States with his brother, Michele, in 1958.   

Once in the U.S., Marco entered university, earning a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Minnesota in 1965.  Also, he married.  He and his first wife, Lutecia Gonzalez, had three sons  Marco Kelly, Leone Jose, and Pedro Enrique, before they divorced in 1968. 

In his professional life, Marco was a cultural anthropologist with a specialty in hunting and gathering societies.  Above all, however, he was a teacher.  He taught first at Beloit College, in Beloit, Wisconsin, and then came to Central Washington University in 1969, where he founded the Department of Anthropology and taught until his retirement.  He and his second wife, Barbara Sammons (aka Sam), were married in Ellensburg in 1970, and shared a rich life of family, academics, and rural living to the end of his days.

Marco was predeceased by his parents, Leone and Anna; his sisters Elena and Mimi; and his brother, Michy.  He is survived by Barbara; sons Marco (Sarah), Leone (Claudia), and Pedro; and grandchildren Claire (Kenley) Unruh, Teo (Teresa), Sage, Luca (Kelsey), Paolo, Claudita, and Leoncino. 

At Marco's request, there will be no services.  A celebration of his life will be held at the family home at a later date.  Donations in his name can be made to the Anthropology Student Scholarship Fund in care of the CWU Foundation at or by mail to CWU Foundation 7507, Central Washington University, 400 E University Way, Ellensburg WA 98926.

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