Theodore Dieterich Marchand, of Atascadero, died peacefully in his sleep on November 29, 2023, in the house he built himself. Born in 1942 in Port Angeles, Washington, Ted grew up first in Sioux City, Iowa, and later in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. While Ted was serving in the Navy, his parents, Dorothy and Carroll Marchand, moved to Atascadero, and after finishing his enlistment, Ted hitchhiked across the country to join them. Ted met the love of his life, Martha, at a pool party in Morro Bay. They married in 1967, and by 1968, they had their first of seven children. Shortly after the baby arrived, they purchased a lot in Atascadero and began to build the house.
Working as a psychiatric technician at Atascadero State Hospital on the night shift while attending Cal Poly during the day, Ted somehow found the time to read books on construction borrowed from the library and work on the house. Using wood he salvaged from an old army mess hall at Camp San Luis Obispo and occasionally enlisting the help of his neighbor George Ashbaugh, his father-in-law Milton Baer, and others, Ted built the house out of what they had in their pockets. His librarian mother-in-law, Ellen, proudly remarked that Ted was the only person she knew who used the library to build a house. Ted became a licensed general contractor, designing and building two other homes, among other projects, before making a career as a union carpenter. With his ability to read complex blueprints and solve problems, he developed a reputation as one of the most valuable carpenters on big jobs throughout the Central Coast. Over time, construction companies would ask for Ted by name, and he almost never missed a day of work. Sometimes, his kids would meet someone who worked with him, and they invariably spoke of Ted with a mixture of awe and respect.
Ted loved tools, books, and “junk stores,” and he would proudly display various items of high value that he found for next to nothing at a junk store that “didn’t know what they had.” He also loved the water, whether free diving for lobster and abalone in his younger years or swimming in Dinkey Creek, where he would use his mask and snorkel to scavenge the creek bed for lost fishing tackle and other treasures. Most of all, he loved and was proud of his family and was supportive of all of their endeavors. In retirement, he helped his daughter Stephanie build her first home, working side by side with her for a year. He was a fierce advocate for his family and for fairness in the world.
Ted was predeceased by his sister, Julie Small, nephew, Gabe Small, and granddaughter, Eadie Bravante. He is survived by his seven children, Kristie Dart, Vince Marchand, Justin Marchand, Katie Bravante, Stephanie Lukasik, Maggie Donegan, and Teddie Purdin, their mother Martha, their spouses, and 14 grandchildren, as well as his sister Cherie Starr and brother Chris Marchand.
A celebration of his life will take place at 3:00 p.m. on January 20, 2024, in the Fellowship Hall of the Community Church of Atascadero, 5850 Rosario Ave, Atascadero, California.