Rocky Yeh obituary: Rocky Yeh Seattle death happened December 1, 2019 just hours after his last post on social media. He was only 42 years old.
The Seattle and American bar communities lost one of their great personalities in Rocky Yeh death. He was a Seattle inspiration on the international hospitality and cocktail scene, in the American train world, and in the Pacific Northwest’s Husky fandom.
In 1995, Rocky matriculated at the University of Washington and after graduation, he chose to work for the university.
Yeh later shifted his professional focus to spirits and cocktails— a world in which he was a natural fit. He began working at Seattle’s celebrated craft destination, Vessel in 2009.
Over the last three years, Yeh worked for Maison Ferrand. The company’s rum sport a pineapple as its logo.
Yeh’s love of friends and meals was matched only by his love of travel. He served on an advisory panel for Amtrak.
He had an adoration for Star Wars, he also loved Disney and when the two entities merged, he rejoiced. Yeh visited Disney’s Galaxy’s Edge park four times within the first six months of operation. In recent months, he even began working on a cocktail project with the Disney Parks.
Rocky Yeh obituary: Rocky Yeh Seattle death
Please say a prayer for his family as you read these tributes below. May his soul rest in perfect peace.
The Seattle and American bar communities lost one of their great personalities today. Rocky Yeh was encouraging to me from the moment we met & always quick to answer a question with deep knowledge and enthusiasm.
Rocky loved living life in as big a way as anyone I’ve ever known.
The Seattle and American bar communities lost one of their great personalities today. Rocky Yeh was encouraging to me from the moment we met & always quick to answer a question with deep knowledge and enthusiasm. Rocky loved living life in as big a way as anyone I’ve ever known.
— Skip Tognetti (@togneter) December 2, 2019
Oh my, @rockdoggydog passed away. Rocky Yeh was a Seattle inspiration on the hospitality and cocktail scene. That’s so sad. Great person who made so many people better.
Oh my, @rockdoggydog passed away. Rocky Yeh was a Seattle inspiration on the hospitality and cocktail scene. That's so sad. Great person who made so many people better.
— Tom Biro (@tombiro) December 2, 2019
– The news of Rocky Yeh’s passing is slowly trickling through our feeds and our texts this morning. Almost like when little fireflies begin to light up the night at dusk, a time that would probably have made Rocky a bit happier for the news to be lighting up things. He never was quite the morning person but he always had a pretty good game face for the AM. I like to think about dusk as one of the more romantic times of day, as a sort of in-between time, and Rocky Yeh was the king of creating Hemingway experiences that surpassed time.
– Rocky was one of the most stubborn people that I have ever met. I am pretty stubborn, maybe that is why we got along. But he wasn’t like me, or like most stubborn people that I knew because he expressed this trait in a pretty unique way: he was stubbornly joyous. His capacity for feeling this joy knew no bounds and he wanted to share that with others. He wanted you to use all of your senses to feel everything from delightment through discovery to sheer freedom. On the days that I felt like I could keep up with Rocky, they were never just days forgottenly spent but always happy memories.
– I only saw Rocky Yeh unhappy twice. One was at Tales of the Cocktail at 4am when Jim Romdall was walking me through the quarter so I could safely get back to my hotel. Jim and I ran into Rocky going opposite directions. Rocky kept answering the call to help others throughout the day and had missed out on going to sissy bounce and drink Irish coffees with us (he also seemed aware of the other dozen possibilities that he had missed out on). I asked him to maybe volunteer less the next day and to sleep in; that advice seemed to make him even grumpier. It just wasn’t a mode on the dial of Rocky. The dial did not have “not help”, “not go”, “not participate”, or “take time off” settings.
– The second time that he seemed unhappy was when I told him about the abuse I suffered as a child in 2016. Actually, he seemed devastated, for a minute I felt like I had broken Rocky. My truth did not seem to be worth that, and I felt extra guilty for telling Rocky. His serious response was a true gift that day. I trusted him enough to share my deepest dark with him and he continued to try and bring light into my life thereafter.
– At times he functioned like a brother to me and he made me feel like I had a place in the world. I have read some people’s testimonies that Rocky helped one understand the concept of “choosing one’s family” as an actual reality. In 2017, when it was obvious that my wife and I had not been and never would be welcome at a “Bulleit family Christmas”, Rocky invited us to spend it with his family and friends. That Christmas Cher and I met Rocky’s brother, Ryan. Both brothers told us we always had a safe place with them. It was beautiful and those memories helped to build a bedrock of faith and hope for the future for both my wife and I.
– When I think about that today, I really focus on Rocky’s biological brother, Ryan. Many of us felt like we were Rocky’s brother or sister… but today I hope that we can return that favor of being family to Rocky’s family… Ryan. People especially close to Rocky knew other sides of Rocky’s stubbornism that maybe were not as much fun. To consistently love someone who loves life so hard is a calling: and Ryan answered that call. Many of Rocky’s longtime local Seattle friends and amazing community also answered that call, and today I appeal to them to take care of Ryan in ways that I simply can’t.
– In the winter of 2016 Rocky wrote: “Years ago I got to see Carrie Fisher in her one woman show Wishful Drinking. It was in a small theater, maybe 80 seats, but the world that night shrunk down to one person. She wasn’t just Princess Leia, she wasn’t just the daughter of Debbie Reynolds, she was her own person. She was open and real, you could see the toll that her addictions and demons had taken on her and she was sharing it with us that night. Seeing that and the strength that took and watching her journey through life and her commentary on it was jaw dropping. It was truly peeking behind the curtain. I thought she had dodged the blaster bolt at least for now, but alas her destiny came. Thank you and may your Force ghost shine bright. I’m going to go cry in the shower now.”
– This photograph is from Camp Runamok orientation 2016, prior to Carrie Fisher’s passing. We got to dress up and I knew of Rocky’s love for Star Wars. I remember Rocky’s face glowing with pride when he said, “I finally have a reason to wear Jodhpurs!” Rocky always deserved a Leia, and I hope at least on that day he got one.
* I hope you are enjoying heaven as much as you enjoyed earth Rocky. May the force be with you.
There used to be an event called “Unofficial Bartenders’ Week” in NYC that I helped organize yearly. What most people don’t know is that the origins of the “conference” was a ploy to get Rocky Yeh to visit NYC.
We created a week around him, his joy, and bringing one of the best people of our community to New York for a week. And it comes as no surprise that many of the best gatherings of friends started with Rocky as the catalyst.
That iconic smile, the endless laughter, the meaningful conversations, the raising of many glasses in cheer. We ordered everything on the menu and found a way to stay until it was (almost) all finished. You selflessly shared your home, your life, your passions, and your knowledge with us all.
We took this picture a few weeks back. It seems surreal that we were just sitting together talking about changes on the horizon, slowing down a bit, our goals, and being the best versions of ourselves.
The truth is Rocky, you have always been and forever will be that best version of yourself. You brought more happiness into our lives than you can imagine, and fed our souls with endless love.
May we all aspire to be a bit more like this guy. May we all have the kindness, humor, perseverance, and zest for life that he embodied every second of everyday. Our hearts are broken, but your spirit will forever be kept sacred and alive with our community. Rest in Power and in peace Rocky.
Rocky’s last post on social media: