When Merrick Dowson came to the United States in the late 1970s from his native England, he already had experience working in the wine business.
His plan was just to spend a year learning more about California wines.
Dowson ended up spending the rest of his life here.
Dowson, 67, the founder of Adventures In Wine, a Daly City wine importer and distributor of rare and fine wines, died after a three-week battle with COVID-19 on April 10.
"He was born for happiness," said Laura Dowson, one of Dowson's three children. "He was one of those people with a happy streak in him."
Dowson said her father worked extremely hard to grow his business. "It was like his fourth child." Still, Dowson said her father always made time for his family, at times bringing his children along on business trips. "Some of my earliest memories are being with him at his warehouse."
Marlene Raderman worked for Dowson for years at Adventures In Wine. She said he was ahead of his time in discovering wines from around the world and introducing them to the Bay Area. "He had beautiful wines from New Zealand before the market was flooded with them."
Raderman said Dowson's knowledge of wine was only part of the reason for his success in the industry. His ability to connect with co-workers, clients, and suppliers was unparalleled.
Dowson's son, Doug Dowson, said his father's desire to make others happy, both in his family and in his business, was one of his defining characteristics.
"He loved to create experiences for people," Doug Dowson said. From elegant dinners to "Dollar Night" at a San Francisco Giants game at old Candlestick Park, Dowson said his father loved to bring people together.
"He didn't want to be the center of attention and the life of the party but he wanted to provide for everyone and make sure everyone has a good time."