Bill, age 95, entered peacefully into his heavenly home with his loving wife, Leilani, by his side on June 4, 2018, in Turlock, California. He was a much-loved husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, and friend to many. Born in Alhambra, California, he grew up in Coachella Valley on a 120-acre ranch where his father grew grapes, dates, tangerines, and grapefruit. Helping out with the farming and harvesting of grapes was a regular part of his teenage years. He attended Northwestern University before serving in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II. Upon returning home, he married Pauleen Wasmund, and together they moved to California where he continued his education at U.C. Berkeley. He graduated with an Agricultural Economist degree and soon began work for the federal government. Bill worked as a marketing analyst for the Department of Agriculture, Fruit and Vegetable Division, a job he held for over 38 years.
Bill and Pauleen had two children, Cheryl and Richard. With job promotions that required transfers, Bill and his young family moved quite often, establishing homes in Berkeley, Fresno, and Sacramento. They made good friends along the way, and traveled frequently to his boyhood ranch in Indio. Though they had many happy years together, they divorced in 1964.
In 1965 Bill married Louise Franksen who had three children from her previous marriage, teens Brad and Wendy, and Myrna, 7 years old. He became a caring father to his new family, especially to Myrna, who subsequently assumed the Blackburn name. As he and Louise became more active in church, their relationship with God grew until He became the center of their lives. More grandchildren started arriving and he enjoyed his time with them. Bill continued working in Sacramento until he retired in 1986, and he and Louise then made many wonderful memories together, traveling to different parts of the world. Theirs was a sweet and happy marriage until Louise died suddenly in 1991.
Following the death of his wife, Bill chose to become active once again in the Capital Christian Center choir. Within a short period of time it was obvious God had plans for another wonderful marriage for Bill. Leilani, who had lost her husband a short while before had recently become a member of this renowned choir. Soon they were married and enjoyed sharing their love of music together for many more singing Christmas Tree performances.
Bill’s love of music since childhood resulted in him becoming a very talented classical pianist. His home was often filled with the lovely strains of melodies from the old masters which Bill enjoyed playing on his mother’s 100 year old baby grand piano.
Leilani had three grown children, Rick, Lorelei and Candace who were beginning families of their own. Following their marriage, Bill and Leilani found that cruising to new places was their favorite form of travel. However, having an extended family from the state of Washington to Southern California, meant that long road trips to visit their growing family became their priority. Upon Bill’s 85th birthday they chose to move to Covenant Village of Turlock. Leilani cared for Bill with much love through his many physical challenges as he aged and is grateful for the assistance she received from Covenant Care Center during his final illness.
Bill had a kind and gentle spirit which was a result of him following the guidance provided by 2 Timothy 2:15. Bill will be dearly missed by all.
Bill is survived by his wife of 26 years Leilani Blackburn of Turlock; daughter Cheryl (and John) Ritter, son Richard W. (and Julian Faulkner) Blackburn II; granddaughter Jolie Allen and great-grandchildren Marlie and Kannon Allen; step children Brad Franksen, Wendy (and Richard) Ellzey, Myrna (and Steve) Ernst, Rick (and Ruby) Hammer, Lorelei Hammer and Candace Hammer Chaney; sister-in-law Joyce Blackburn; plus nineteen step grandchildren and thirteen step great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents Richard and Ramona Blackburn; brother Richard Blackburn and two previous wives Pauleen and Louise.
Memorial contributions can be made in Bill’s memory to Covenant Village of Turlock Benevolent Fund.
Viewing will be held at Allen Mortuary on Saturday, July 7, 2018, from 9:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m. A memorial service will begin at 10:30 a.m. at Covenant Village, Berg Hall with light lunch to follow.
Interment will be at Coachella Valley Public Cemetery on Monday, July 9, 2018, at 1:00 p.m.
Memories may be shared at www.AllenMortuary.com