FOUNDER, ROBERT H. ZELLER
DEEPLY ROOTED IN THE NAPA VALLEY
With his family actively involved in the Napa Valley for nearly 150 years, founder Robert H. Zeller was doing more than opening a law firm in 1952. He was continuing a tradition of optimism and commitment to the growth and welfare of his young family as well as his community. Like his enterprising grandparents and great-grandparents, he trusted in the ideals that dedication to his work would benefit both present and future generations.
Over the past sixty years, Bob’s legal practice led to memberships and offices of numerous charitable and educational organizations. His skills and acumen also led to his co-founding the Napa Valley Bank and to the substantial winery formations of the 1970s. He has appeared at Planning Commissions on behalf of clients and has also formed numerous corporations and partnerships.
Born into the Greatest Generation, Bob served in the United States Army, 1943-1946, in the European Theatre. After his service, he returned to the University of California at Berkeley where he continued his pre-med studies before discovering his interest in the law.
In 1952, he was admitted to the California State Bar and opened his office, an apartment building at 923-929 Randolph Street. In 1962, the building was razed and, in its place, stands the current offices of Zeller, Hoff, & Zeller, Inc.. Bob’s early practice included criminal defense and public defender, adoptions, domestic relations, and municipal law, as well as corporate law, estate planning and administration, and real estate transactions which he continues to currently practice.
Through the years, past and present associates have offered clients their expertise on a wide variety of matters of the law. In 1988 and 1993, Bob was proud and pleased to welcome his daughter, attorney Cathy Zeller Erickson, and attorney Paul M. Hoff to the firm. We were saddened by Paul’s passing in November 2018.
In the tradition of serving clients and community, the attorneys of Zeller, Hoff, & Zeller, Inc. continue to dedicate their support during times of crisis and celebration during times of joy.
Original site of Robert H. Zeller Law Office, 1952. Acrylic painting by Juanita Harper
Bob’s maternal great-grandparents, Gianbaptiste and Virginia Ferrogiaro, arrived in Napa in the 1870’s. They built and ran a boarding house on land they purchased from Giuseppe Ghisletta. The site, which included a restaurant and grill, still stands today on Soscol Street, better known as the Depot Hotel. Residing down the street in the now-oldest building in Napa, the Old Adobe, was Cayetano Juarez. One evening in 1883, while sitting at the bar at the Depot, and in the presence of Gian Ferrogiaro, Cayetano Juarez passed away. To this day, the same bar remains at the Depot Hotel
Robert Zeller, 1959
From 1952-1957, Bob did not have a secretary. He typed his own papers on a manual typewriter and used carbon copies as there were no practical copying machines at that time.
Juanita Harper, 1972
Before hired by Bob in 1957, Juanita had been the legal secretary to Judge William Blanckenburg, then attorney Blanckenburg.
Taken from an article in the Napa County Record, written by Juanita in April 23, 1958:
“A legal secretary is a private secretary, and, well, she just has to like her boss and think he is the greatest. She must respect his principles and ideals, be awed at his keen mind, and be proud to say, “I work for Mr. ___”. I am happy to say, “I am Bob Zeller’s secretary”.
Paternal grandparents, Johann and Marie Zeller, arrived in Napa in 1898. They purchased and ran the Palace Hotel on the southwest corner of Third and Soscol Streets. The beautiful three-story building designed by Bernard Maybeck, was torn down in the 1930s before Napa had formed the Historical and Landmark Societies.