The Memorial Wall

Don Brown

Don Brown

January 1, 1934 - December 13, 2023

Donald Arthur Brown, known by all as Don, died following a long battle with Parkinson's Disease on December 13, 2023.

The youngest of three, Mr. Brown's father Samuel was one of the ten 'California Brothers' who were renowned for their exploits in the booming herring trade and for taking part in the Dunkirk evacuation.

After finishing school, Mr. Brown briefly followed his father by spending time at sea.

As a teenager, Mr. Brown was taught the skill of butchery at Hunns in Caister. After carrying out National Service, Mr. Brown returned to butchery, working for David Greggs and eventually becoming a manager at a shop on Bells Road, Gorleston.

While he was in his 40s, Mr. Brown became his own boss, establishing Don's Family Butchers on Church Lane, Gorleston, which he ran until his retirement.

A Norwich City Football Club season ticket holder, Mr. Brown loved the beautiful game.

Closer to home, he was known as a great supporter of Gorleston Football Club, sponsoring the team during the 1980s and providing players with a free pound of sausages and a steak for every goal they scored and making it on the pitch.

Mr. Brown also loved the great outdoors and was a keen gardener, with his sizeable rose collection being among his greatest prized possessions.

He served in most officer positions, including chairman for many years, and assisted the annual November poppy collection in Caister, often seen rattling a collection box in local supermarkets, and helped raise thousands of pounds for the charity.

Mr. Brown was also the legion standard bearer, attending the funerals of many ex-servicemen in the area, and flying the standard on behalf of the legion at many grand occasions.

He also took the Caister standard to Ypres and participated in a remembrance service at the Menin gate.

His final deed for the legion, before he could no longer actively participate, was closing the local branch and working with the parish council to return the standard from the legion and rest in its rightful place in Caister church.

Mr. Brown's first love was his wife of 67 years, Iris, whom he met when aged 17 at a dance held at the Britannia Pier. Mr and Mrs Brown had two boys, Michael and Ian, four grandsons and four great-grandchildren.

Mr. Brown is remembered as a true gentleman and a well-loved member of the local community, whose motto was “It is easier to please than to tease”.


Remembering Don Brown

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Roger Welch

Roger Welch

January 1, 1946 - December 11, 2023

Rappahannock native Roger Welch, a long-time member of the Board of Supervisors, died at his farm in Flint Hill after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. 

Welch, 77, represented the Wakefield District on the Board of Supervisors for 19 years. His daughter, Courtney, said, “Dad always had a smile and a kind word. He was just kind in all of his decision making.”

“He was really dedicated to Rappahannock,” she said. “He had a true servant’s heart.” Welch had once been president of the local Lions Club and a deacon at Washington Baptist Church.

After graduating from Rappahannock High School, Welch attended Virginia Tech, served in the United States Navy submarine service as an electrical technician during the Vietnam War, and then earned a degree in electrical engineering from J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College near Richmond.

After his military service, Welch joined General Electric’s Factory Automation Group in Richmond as a comptroller and later managed that group’s national training center. He visited Rappahannock regularly and built a home on his property outside of Flint Hill in 1988.

Welch is survived by his wife, Geneva, daughter, Courtney, son, Ryan, and grandchildren.


Remembering Roger Welch

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Geraldine Tousant

Geraldine Tousant

May 4, 1939 - December 11, 2023

Gary’s former Deputy Mayor Geraldine Tousant passed away on Monday, December 11, 2023 surrounded by loved ones at Community Hospital in Munster, IN. Geraldine courageously battled breast cancer, kidney failure, complications from Parkinson’s disease, and an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. She was 84 years old.

Geraldine was born in Ensley, AL on May 4, 1939, and relocated to Gary, Indiana, at the age of three. She was a graduate of Gary Roosevelt High School class of 1957, and soon after graduating she married the love of her life, Marshall Tousant. The couple was happily married for nearly 48 years and were the proud parents of three children and the loving grandparents of five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Geraldine began her career with the City of Gary in 1960 in the Redevelopment Department as a clerk-typist when she was 21 years old. She worked her way up through the Department’s rank, eventually becoming the Director. Former Mayor Scott King recognized her hard work, dedication, and commitment to the citizens of Gary and appointed her as Deputy Mayor on February 14, 2003. A position she held for seven years through two administrations (Scott King and Rudy Clay).

Geraldine was an innovative and servant leader who impressively worked for seven mayors during her 50 years of service to the City of Gary. Geraldine was instrumental in managing large scale projects, some of which included the demolition of structures obtained in other city agencies, and computerizing the city’s utility billing and payment processes. Geraldine’s outstanding accomplishments led to various roles and opportunities during her tenure with the Redevelopment Department, she served as Project Administrator, Interim Director, and Assistant Executive Director for more than a decade before being named Executive Director in 1999.

As Deputy Mayor she was a dedicated public servant who made tremendous contributions to the City of Gary. Geraldine was recognized by Former U.S. House of Representatives Peter Visclosky of Indiana in The House of Representatives on Tuesday, March 1, 2011. For her dedication to her colleagues and to the citizens of Gary, she was nominated as a Marcher, for the Drum Major, an award given by the Gary Frontiers Service Club at its annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Breakfast. Marchers are recognized for having dedicated their lives to improving the human condition, something that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. urged in his “Drum Major Instincts” sermon two months before his passing.

Geraldine selflessly gave of her time and efforts to inspire others. She stated she would like her legacy to inspire youth, and that with hard work, determination, and faith in God you can be whatever you want to be.


Remembering Geraldine Tousant

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Edward Poindexter

Edward Poindexter

January 1, 1944 - December 7, 2023

Former Black Panther Party leader Ed Poindexter, who was imprisoned for 53 years, died December 7th, 2023 in a Nebraska prison at the age of 79. In the last few years, his family and supporters fought for his compassionate release, as he was suffering from advanced kidney disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Despite his condition, the state never approved his release. This is another indictment of the workings of the capitalist rulers’ prisons, part of their class-driven criminal “justice” system. This is not a secret to the millions of workers who have been incarcerated or have a relative, neighbor, co-worker, or friend who was thrown behind bars.

Known as the “Omaha Two,” Poindexter and Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa (formerly David Rice), became well-known as organizers of protests against police brutality in the late 1960s, including the 1969 killing of 14-year-old Vivian Strong. For this, they were targeted by the Omaha police; agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; and by the FBI.

They were framed in August 1970 on charges of killing an Omaha police officer, who had been lured into a home where a suitcase bomb exploded.

Supporters of Poindexter and we Langa had forced out into the open government documents showing how authorities were out to discredit and dismantle the Panthers’ political work. Witnesses placed the two Black rights fighters elsewhere at the time of the killing. Nonetheless, Poindexter and Langa were convicted and sentenced to life in prison. We Langa died in 2016 after 45 years behind bars.

Poindexter had deserved a new trial because of the “credible reports of significant misconduct in the prosecution” of the case, Mindy Rush Chipman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska, said after his death. “Ultimately, you cannot separate this case from the circumstances at the time which continue to this day, namely law enforcement agencies targeting people and groups calling for racial justice.”

From the day they were arrested in 1970, to the day they died, Poindexter and Langa maintained their innocence. They were never broken by the prison system.


Remembering Edward Poindexter

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Paul John Gray

Paul John Gray

January 1, 1945 - December 3, 2023

Paul John Gray, one of the founders of the Dorothy Day House of Hospitality, Inc. in Memphis, Tennessee, died of Parkinson's disease on December 3, 2023, in his home in Walla Walla, Washington, at the age of 78.

At a young age, Paul exhibited concern for people less fortunate than himself. While a student at Duquesne University, he volunteered to help renovate a dilapidated house in a ghetto of Pittsburgh known as the Hill District. The house was then used as a center to integrate recovering alcoholics into society.

While in Graduate School, during the Federal Government's War on Poverty, Paul was hired as Special Assistant to the Mayor of Mount Vernon, New York, with the specific task of going daily into the tenement buildings to assess needs and propose and organize solutions, especially for youth who lived in wretched conditions.

After earning a master's degree in Catholic Theology from Manhattan College, New York, he spent over forty years teaching theology on the college level and working professionally for the Catholic Church in parishes in Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Tennessee in the field of religious education and Christian formation. In every position, Paul created programs to meet the needs of individuals and families experiencing houselessness.

In 2006, Paul and his wife, Judy, joined with close friends in founding the Dorothy Day House of Hospitality, Inc. in Memphis, Tennessee. Now, seventeen years later, there are three Houses providing temporary housing and support services to assist families suffering from poverty and houselessness.

After serving seven years as parish administrator for the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Paul retired in 2009, then focusing on writing, presenting workshops, directing retreats, teaching in the Diocesan Institute for Liturgy and Spirituality, and serving on the Ministry Team for the Dorothy Day House.

Paul was known for his faith in God, for gentleness, kindness, wisdom, and constant outreach to the less fortunate. He was friend, mentor, guide, teacher, and inspiration to many, many people. He will be deeply missed.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Paul Lawrence Gray and Teresa Agnes O'Hara Gray, and a sister, Betty Gray Byrnes. He is survived by his brother, Richard E. Gray of Greensburg, Pennsylvania; by his wife, Judith Myers Gray; and by their children, Diane Gray-Chamberlain (Randy), Susie Gray-Miller, Jack Gray, Michael Gray (Jennifer), Stephen Gray, Katie Gray-Rogers, Sarah Gray (Lisa Bailey); and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Remembering Paul John Gray

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Douglas Alder

Douglas Alder

November 10, 2032 - November 25, 2023

Dr. Douglas D. Alder, beloved husband, father, grandfather, professor and college president, passed away at home on November 25, 2023 surrounded by family with his beloved Elaine holding his hand. He was 91.
Born November 10, 1932 in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Georgia Ellen Payzant and Linden Benson Alder, he became known by many as an enthusiastic mentor, community leader, teacher, scholar, historian, speaker and author whose exuberant presence instantly filled nearly every room he entered.
Doug graduated from Salt Lake City's East High School (1951) where he developed a love of learning and established enduring friendships with many, including some who became prominent Utah political and ecclesiastical leaders. At the University of Utah, he earned B.A. and Master's degrees in history and met the love of his life, Elaine Marie Reiser, daughter of A. Hamer Reiser and Elizabeth Robina Baxter. The two married December 20, 1958, a few months after Doug's father died of a heart attack.
While attending the U of U's LDS Seminary, Doug met legendary teacher Lowell Bennion, whose commitment to a life of service had a life-changing effect. Bennion and A. Hamer Reiser became Doug's father figures. Their influence inspired Doug to adopt lofty and profound ideals.
Doug's commitment to a life of service further developed while serving as an LDS missionary in the Swiss-Austrian mission from 1953 to 1956 and the National Guard from 1959 to 1962.
After his passion for history ignited at the U of U, Doug continued studying at the University of Oregon, where he received a Ph.D. in European history and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study at the University of Vienna. In 1963 Dr. Alder began a 23 year-long teaching career at Utah State University (USU) in Logan, including 12 years as Honors Program Director. In 1967 he was named Professor of the Year.
In 1973, the Alders spent a sabbatical year in Bloomington, Indiana supported by an American Council on Education's Leadership Fellowship. This inspired Doug's pursuit of the presidency at Dixie College (now Utah Tech University), where he served from 1986 to 1993. His leadership enabled improvements via endowments, academic program expansions and record student enrollments and graduations. His inclusive style inspired increased community engagement and institutional support.
Doug is fondly remembered by his students for conducting "The Interview" through which he quickly established his ambitious, customized recommendations for their academic futures. He shunned "Get by-ism" and inspired many students to believe in themselves more than they previously knew possible. Thousands of these students credit him with offering profound advice that decisively altered their paths–toward greatness.
In both Cache and Washington Counties, Doug served on many boards focused on supporting city/county libraries, historic preservation and arts/cultural events. Doug also served tirelessly in the LDS church. He was an important bridge between people of other faiths and Latter-day Saints. He loved teaching Sunday school, being a home teacher, singing in choirs, working for the Correlation committee at the LDS Church Office Building, nurturing the community of church historians, sitting on High Councils, serving as bishop (twice), serving with Elaine in the St. George Temple Presidency (1998-2001) and for 25 years as a Temple Sealer.
Doug and Elaine raised four children, who, in their youth, helped build a modest cabin overlooking Bear Lake in Garden City, Utah. Dubbed "ALK Haven" (meaning All Little Kids Haven), the cabin is now the Alder's cherished multi-generational gathering retreat. Doug loved marveling at the beauty of Rich County, which became the setting for his novel Sons of Bear Lake.
During his final 15 years, Doug valiantly danced around the debilitating effects of dementia, Parkinson's Disease, and then in 2023, bladder cancer. Until his final two months, he faced each day with unquenchable purpose and limitless drive while being blessed by Elaine's constant care and attention.
The Alder family expresses deep gratitude for the outpouring of love from family and friends during Doug and Elaine's stay at The Covington of Lehi and tender service from the caregivers of Dignity Hospice who made his last two months more bearable.
Doug is preceded in death by his parents; two infant brothers: Richard Jerome and Daniel Blaine; a sister, Judith Alder Saxey; and brother-in-law, Kent H. Saxey. He is survived by his devoted wife, Elaine; his children: Scott (Betsy Hepworth), Elise (Russell) Clark, Nathan (Laurel Cannon), Lin (Pam Sunshine), and 14 grandchildren: Rebecca (Nick) Bjorkman, Benjamin Alder, Elizabeth (Brandon) Anderson, Ethan (Lindsey) Clark, Catherine Alder (Tim Russell), Jacob Alder (Zoe Morgan), Caleb Clark (Rachel Benson), Madeleine Alder, Emily Clark (Hunter Brannen), Clara Alder (Clayton Holdstock), Jonathan Alder, Eli Wilcox, Abby Wilcox, Avery Alder; and eight great grandchildren: Alexis, Elle, Nixon, Adabella, Rosett, Nova, Carolly and Milo.

Remembering Douglas Alder

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Sankara Nethralaya

Sankara Nethralaya

February 24, 1940 - November 21, 2023

Dr. Sengamedu Srinivasa Badrinath, a renowned ophthalmologist and founder of Sankara Nethralaya eye hospital in Chennai, India, has passed away at the age of 83. Dr. Badrinath dedicated his life to providing high-quality eye care to all, including the underprivileged. His hospital performs over 40% of surgeries free of cost for those in need. Despite battling Parkinson's disease, he continued to contribute to the field through research. His death has been mourned by political leaders and the medical community. 

Remembering Sankara Nethralaya

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Sanford Bothman

Sanford Bothman

July 22, 1929 - November 19, 2023

Sanford "Sandy" Bothman, 94, of Santa Barbara, California, passed away on November 19, 2023 from cancer and Parkinson’s disease. Sandy is survived by his loving wife, Annette, daughter Sharon, sons David and Danny, daughter-in-law Teresa, and grandsons Aron and Sean. He was preceded in death by his parents and by his sister Barbara (Bothman) Meyer.

He was born on July 22, 1929, in Los Angeles, California, to Jacob and Ethel Bothman, who had moved there with their extended families in the 1910s from Missouri and Illinois. Sandy’s father, Jacob, lost his business during the Depression, and when he began to travel extensively as a salesman, Sandy’s uncle Sam stepped forward to mentor him. Sam took Sandy to ball games and bought him his first car, a 1931 Ford which Sandy restored to operating condition at the service station where he worked.

Sandy met Annette Friedman at a college party, and they dated for a few months before Annette left for a nearly year-long post-graduation trip to Europe and Israel. Smitten, he persuaded Annette to return to the U.S. and they were married three weeks later. They spent their honeymoon on a scenic road trip to Great Falls, Montana where Sandy reported for active duty at Malmstrom AFB. Annette remembers that on the way Sandy practiced saying “Lieutenant Bothman reporting for duty, Sir!” as directed by the Air Force manual.

Family, friends, and community groups relied on Sandy for his intelligence and care. He was calm and generous and maintained a wonderful sense of humor – even in difficult situations. Sandy was a role model and teacher to his children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews – helping them see problems from different perspectives. Always charming, he made friends easily and maintained relationships throughout his life, even continuing to meet regularly with his basketball buddies from high school. Nothing made Sandy happier than helping others. He would always ask “What can I do for you?”.

He attended elementary and middle school in La Cañada and Los Angeles and later graduated from Beverly Hills High School, where his claim to fame was a (minor) role in The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer with Shirley Temple and Carey Grant. Sandy furthered his education at UCLA, UC Berkeley, and USC on an ROTC scholarship majoring in journalism. After active duty in the USAF Sandy attended the UCLA School of Law, graduating in 1959. Sandy was a life-long student; throughout his adulthood, he earned his real estate broker’s license, his instrument rating as a pilot, and a master’s degree in mediation from Pepperdine Law School.

After law school, Sandy embarked on a successful career as an attorney, practicing as part of the firm Bothman Angus and Talcott. In the early 1980s he left to serve as Corporate Counsel at the Friedman Bag Company. After retiring as a lawyer he worked as a mediator.

Aviation was a passion for Sandy. He learned to fly as a teenager in Los Angeles, and he liked to tell us that his first flight instructor’s license was signed by Orville Wright. As a journalist in the Air Force, he enjoyed flying with fighter pilots on training missions. Later in life he and his flying partner purchased a Beechcraft Debonair, and Sandy enjoyed flying throughout the western United States while Annette white-knuckled it all the way.

In 2015 Sandy and Annette moved to Maravilla, a senior community in Santa Barbara. Sandy was active in the Men’s Club, Fireside Chats, and various book and writing groups. He was especially fond of his close friends in the ROMEO Wednesday lunch club.

Annette and Sandy were active at Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles, where he served as board president; they joined Congregation B’nai B’rith after moving to Santa Barbara.

Sandy was fortunate to receive excellent medical care at Sansum Clinic and Cottage Hospital. The family is grateful to the caring staff at Casa St. James where Sandy lived for several weeks, and to the staff at Serenity House in Santa Barbara where Sandy spent his last days in hospice care. Susan Dickenson’s guidance in finding these and other care resources for Sandy was invaluable. The McDermott Crockett Funeral Home in Santa Barbara, CA, is assisting the family with burial arrangements.

Farewell Sandy – you will be deeply missed by all who had the privilege of knowing you. Your legacy of kindness, generosity, and love will forever live on in the hearts of those you touched.

The family encourages all of Sandy’s friends to do something kind for another person. We feel that this is what he would have wanted. 

Remembering Sanford Bothman

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Judge John Rufe

Judge John Rufe

December 12, 1939 - November 18, 2023

John J. Rufe, 83, of Newtown, Bucks County, retired judge in the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, former assistant district attorney, longtime lawyer, and community leader, died Saturday, Nov. 18, of complications from Parkinson’s disease at Friends Nursing Home at Chandler Hall in Newtown.

A lifelong resident of Bucks County, Judge Rufe was appointed to the county bench in 1989 by Gov. Robert P. Casey. He was elected to a 10-year term in 1991, retained for another term in 2001, and presided over thousands of criminal, civil, domestic, and dependency cases until his retirement as senior judge in 2018.

He oversaw much of the county’s complex and unprecedented asbestos liability litigation in the 1990s. He ruled in 1993 that a man owed 34 years of unpaid child support and in 2000 that Bucks County farms were not unused land subject to unchecked development.

He helped establish the Bucks County Drug Court in 2010 that encouraged recovery and rehabilitation, and was especially moved by dependency cases that involved young children. In online tributes, colleagues and friends called him “humble, insightful and fair” and “a consummate gentleman.” He became a senior judge in 2009, and other family.

Judge Rufe was the husband of U.S. District Court Senior Judge Cynthia M. Rufe and brother of retired Bucks County Judge William Hart Rufe III. He and his older brother are the only brothers to have served simultaneously on the same bench in Pennsylvania, and he and his wife are believed to be just the second married couple to have served together on the same bench in the state when she was on the Bucks County court from 1994 to 2002.

He was featured in The Inquirer after his appointment in 1989 and spoke just two days after his first case. “People have been saying ‘Congratulations, Your Honor,’ in varying degrees for a couple of months now,” he said. “It’s always been while they are smiling.”

Then he added: Now, “people have been referring to me as ‘Judge’ and ‘Your Honor’ with no smile on the face, no flattery involved. I just recognize that it’s real now. ...The time for congratulations is over. The time for the job is at hand.”


Judge Rufe served as a Bucks County assistant district attorney from 1968 to 1971 and worked in private practice at Rufe & Lechowicz in Bucks County until 1989. Earlier, he clerked for Bucks County president judge Edward G. Biester.

He ran uncontested in the 1986 Democratic primary for a state Senate seat and lost in the general election to state Rep. James C. Greenwood. During that campaign, he called himself “a civil rights advocate without compromise.”

He was onetime president of the Bucks County Bar Association, Legal Aid Society Advisory Board, Pennridge Jaycees, and what is now BARC Developmental Services. The bar association renamed its annual softball game the Honorable John J. Rufe Softball Classic a few years ago to honor him as “the best umpire ever,” and it recognized his “life, dedication and professionalism” in a recent formal resolution.

His family said in a tribute: “He was a calm, steady influence over others and exercised impeccable judgment.”

Born Dec. 12, 1939, in Sellersville, John Jacob Rufe ran track, played football, studied drama, and graduated from Pennridge High School in 1957. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Lafayette College in 1962 and law degree from Duke University in 1965.

He married Barbara Batchie, and they had daughters Katherine, Kristen, and Amy, and lived in Perkasie. They divorced later. He married Cynthia Weaver in 1999, and welcomed her daughters, Tiffany and Meredith, into their blended family in Newtown.

Judge Rufe and his wife, then a Bucks County judge, were featured in an Inquirer article after their wedding, and he said: “We are capable of supporting each other in what can sometimes be a lonely job.” They shared interests in history, opera, music, and theater. They gardened together and traveled to Europe and the Caribbean.

He also liked to fish and ski, play golf and tennis. He often read the Declaration of Independence aloud on the Fourth of July to share his love of country.

He wore memorable ties and inspired his family as he battled Parkinson’s for three decades. “He dedicated his life to public service and the law,” his family said, “living with integrity, grace, and commitment to do as much as possible to improve the lives of others.”

His wife said: “He was quietly engaging and charming. He had a delightful intellect and was a man with a kind word for anyone.”

In addition to his wife, daughters, brother, stepdaughters, and former wife, Judge Rufe is survived by six grandchildren, another brother, and other relatives. A sister died earlier.


Remembering Judge John Rufe

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Bill Pinella

Bill Pinella

March 16, 1947 - November 15, 2023

Bill Pinella, a guiding force behind The Press Democrat’s sports section for nearly two decades and a beloved editor over his 45-year career in newsrooms, where close friends called him “Sweet,” died November 15, 2023.

He was 76 and had lived for years with Parkinson’s disease.

At The Press Democrat, as assistant sports editor from 1994 until his retirement in 2012, Pinella was chief among the PD’s many unsung heroes. He was the brace behind writers — and at times the brains — but was content to remain in the background.

He stayed late on Thanksgiving night to read copy about night games, and he helped lay out the sports pages because daily newspapers don’t take a day off for holidays. He worked New Year’s Eve because someone had to be in charge. He was honored to do it.

“For many years Bill and I worked in a tiny office, face-to-face with our desks jammed together,” said former Press Democrat sports editor George Manes. “You learn a lot about a person that way and I learned to admire his humor, calm demeanor and steady commitment to our work. He was a whiz on deadline, corralling recalcitrant, and sometimes ornery, reporters, banging out headlines, editing copy and transforming the often-chaotic mess of daily journalism into a coherent, respected seven-day-a-week sports section.”

He was “a man of soft edges” in a profession where elbows and egos can dominate, said retired PD columnist Chris Smith. He was a salve and support, especially, for his reporters.

“One thing people need to understand about writers and reporters: We tend to get stressed out,” said Press Democrat staff writer and former sports columnist Phil Barber. “Managing workload is hard. Interviews can be hard. Deadlines are VERY hard. If you sense that your editor is wound up about a story, it adds to the anxiety. Bill was the opposite. I never saw him stressed on the job. If something was amiss, he’d tell you, but he always lowered the emotional temperature. That unflappability was confidence inspiring.”

His tenure at the PD came with numerous national awards for sports coverage, and he helped elevate the careers and work of many journalists, among them football writers Matt Maiocco (now with NBC Sports Bay Area) and Eric Branch (now with the San Francisco Chronicle), baseball writer Jeff Fletcher (now with the Orange County Register), Brian Murphy (now with KNBR radio), longtime PD columnist Bob Padecky — and the writer of this story.

He was a fount of story ideas and had a sharp eye for sports trends, spotting them before almost anyone.

When the Oakland Athletics, among the cheapest teams in the big leagues, played a postseason series against the New York Yankees with a gigantic payroll, he ran a chart showing the salaries of all nine starters for each team. The A’s came across like a minor-league outfit and the innovative and humorous chart was a favorite among readers.

In 1996, he suggested to the writer of this story that something strange was going on in baseball. Batters were hitting tons of home runs, and no one could explain why. Bill assigned this writer to investigate the balls. Were they juiced — hopped up?

The search for an answer led to UC Berkeley, where a famous physics professor dropped an old-style ball and a so-called new, juiced-up ball off the Campanile. Luckily no one got beaned. The juiced ball — wound more tightly to fly farther off bats, we would later learn — bounced higher after hitting the ground. (The resulting article won The Associated Press’ award for best sports story in California that year.)

Years later, Bill and the whole world learned it wasn’t only the balls that were juiced. It was almost certainly the players, too, some notoriously taking performance-enhancing drugs. Bill, taking in that controversy, offered his wonderful laugh — which meant life plays tricks on all of us and that’s part of the glorious spectacle.

William Pinella was born March 16, 1947, in Clarksburg, West Virginia. He spoke often and fondly of his upbringing there with his dear sister, Claudia, and he loved to tell stories of their close-knit Italian community.

After graduating from West Virginia University, where he studied journalism, Bill began his 45-year career as a sports journalist, including as sports editor of what was then the San Diego Evening Tribune, where he worked for about a decade, starting in 1983.

In 1982 he met the love of his life, Judy Tuttle. They married in 1984 and raised three children.

His close friends called him Sweet, and that requires an explanation. Between 1986 and 2010 one of the most famous major-league baseball managers was Lou Piniella. People called him Sweet Lou. Although his name is spelled differently from Bill Pinella’s both names are pronounced the same — Pin-nel-la.

Hence, Bill became Sweet.

“Sweet was the best sports editor I ever worked for. His nickname was perfect. He was one of the sweetest men I ever met,” said baseball journalist and senior Sportico writer Barry Bloom, who worked with him in San Diego from 1984 to 1992. “We had a great staff at the Tribune from top to bottom. His job was putting people in the right place and utilizing us. He did that with great calm and tremendous humor. I’ll never forget it. Those days were an incredible foundation for my career. I wouldn’t be where I am today without that experience and without Bill.”

He had a nose for good stories.

“In fact, he suggested two of the most satisfying pieces I ever wrote for our sports section,” said Barber. “One was about the time Rocky Marciano trained for a heavyweight title fight in Calistoga. The other was along the lines of ‘Who was Ernie Nevers and why is a Santa Rosa athletic field named after him?’ They were stories some editors would have seen as old news, or not splashy enough. Bill encouraged his writers to pursue the unexpected.”

He had special affection for the accomplishments of local high school athletes whose efforts often go unrecognized. He spent hours organizing and staging The Press Democrat’s annual high school student-athlete award ceremonies. His love for that work and the job shone through.

“We’re sure not doing this for the money,” he’d say.

Former Press Democrat sports editor Jim Barger, who grew up near Pittsburgh, recalled Pinella grew up a Yankees fan.

“The first time I met him, I’m emptying my stuff to put in the office, and I have a Bill Mazeroski bobblehead,” Barger said. (Mazeroski had ended the 1960 World Series with a game 7, walk-off home run that gave his Pittsburgh Pirates the victory over the Yankees, one of the most famous homers in baseball history.)

“Bill goes, ‘Oh my God!’ He was horrified. But we got over that,” Barger said.

“I counted on him so much. He made out the schedules, a thankless job. He did the night hours. He was a prince,” he added. “A few Christmases ago he sent me a T-shirt for the Grafton Bears — Grafton is a town in West Virginia (population 4,651) and I had covered those guys. I still wear that shirt. God, he was such a good guy.”

He was a devout Catholic and felt great pride in never missing Mass. He was a parishioner at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Santa Rosa.

As the limits imposed by Parkinson’s disease weighed on his later life, he remained active, walking miles a day, still maintaining his warm disposition, friends said.

“Before I moved out of Sonoma County in 2021, we’d meet for lunch,” said retired Press Democrat copy editor Robert Rubino. “He never wanted to dwell on his illness. We talked about our shared nostalgia for sports and about how rewarding it had been to work at The Press Democrat in the 1990s when newspaper journalism still thrived. In the last two years, we’d talk by phone. Bill was always positive, always receptive to humor, even with his health failing. He set such a dignified example of how to deal with illness.”

He is survived by his wife Judy Pinella of Santa Rosa, their sons Willie of South Lake Tahoe and Timothy of Santa Rosa, daughter Christine Pinella of Santa Rosa, grandson Billee, sister Claudia Randolph of Clarksburg, West Virginia, and by nephew Christopher Edwards of Morgantown, West Virginia, niece Caryl Banks of Bowie, Maryland, grandnephews Chase and Dominic, and grandniece, Lizzy.


Remembering Bill Pinella

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Contact Us

Parkinson's Resource Organization
74785 Highway 111
Suite 208
Indian Wells, CA 92210

Local Phone
(760) 773-5628

Toll-Free Phone
(877) 775-4111

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Updated: August 16, 2017