Obituary of William Casalegno
In the comfort of his own home, William “Bill” Casalegno passed away peacefully on March 18, 2019 at the age of 91 from complications related to Parkinson’s Disease.
Bill was born in Santa Cruz to George and Vera Casalegno and was the fifth of six children raised at the Casalegno Farm and Country Store in Soquel. He attended the old Mountain Elementary School, built on land donated by his father.
Bill went on to attend Santa Cruz High where he played baseball and football, and ran track and field. After graduating in 1945, he entered the Navy Reserves. Bill attended basic training in San Diego before being stationed in Kodiak and Adak, Alaska, where he was attached to the Fleet Weather Central Broadcast Unit. He was honorably discharged from the Navy in August 1946 and returned to Soquel. Bill continued his education at Hartnell College, where he played baseball and was Vice President of his sophomore class, before briefly attending UCLA.
In 1947, Bill bought his first car, an old Ford Model T, for $25. With that came adventures that led to stories he would tell for the rest of his life, including a 19-hour drive to the Rose Bowl, a road trip through Yosemite, and multiple appearances in parades, such as the Soquel O-Rama, where he and his buddies entertained the crowds with their comedic antics and shenanigans.
Bill was introduced to his "everything", Vi Handel, by his sister Loretta. They were married in July 1954 and spent the next 64 years together, filling their lives with fun, laughter, family and friends. In 1956 Bill and Vi built their home on Casalegno family land, where they raised 4 daughters and ran both the family farm and Bill’s excavation business. Bill once said it seemed like every time they had a baby, he bought a tractor.
Bill has been described as a "Zen Master" in the use of a D-6 Caterpillar tractor. He bought his first dozer in 1963 and went into business for himself. He owned Bill Casalegno Bulldozing for more than 30 years. Although he worked on many notable projects throughout Santa Cruz County, he was best known for his annual creation of the lagoon at Capitola Beach. Later he worked for Santa Cruz Aggregates and became a member of Operating Engineers Local 3. He retired in June 1991.
Bill was dearly loved by his family and, throughout his life, was known for his sense of humor, practical jokes, hard work, strong family values, generosity, honesty and integrity. He loved sports, and during his playing days in college was dubbed "Crazy Legs Cass" on the baseball diamond because of his swiftness and base stealing ability. Later in life, you could find him rooting on his children and grandchildren at their little league and Soquel High baseball and basketball games.
Bill was a lifelong member of the Santa Cruz Elks Club, Marconi Club, Soquel Pioneer and Historical Association, and St. Joseph's Catholic Church.
Bill’s family would very much like to thank his caregivers Diah, Leo, Lendy, Lulu and Clinton for their compassionate care and kindness during his later stages of Parkinson’s.
Bill was predeceased by his wife Vi, his parents Vera and George, brothers Matthew and Frank and sister Loretta Szychowski. He is survived by his brother Ben Casalegno (Dorothy), sister Lucille Mogaard and sister-in-law Ida Hentschel; daughters Jane Kotila (Rick), Cathy Casalegno (Margaret Theisen), Jeanne Viglienzoni (Dave), and Angela Chandler (Richard); grandchildren Matt Kotila (Marissa), Nate Kotila (Arwen Steinacker), Jake Kotila (Monica), Joe, Catherine, and Krista Viglienzoni and Sean Chandler (Karen); great-grandchildren Wyatt, Creedance, and Astrid; and a large extended family.
A vigil celebrating Bill’s life will be held on Wednesday, April 10th at 7 p.m. at Pacific Gardens Chapel, 1050 Cayuga Street, Santa Cruz, followed by a mass on Thursday April 11th at 10:30 a.m. at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, 435 Monterey Avenue, Capitola. Friends and family are invited to attend a reception after the mass. Bill was a man of many stories, and as we celebrate his life we hope you will bring your stories to share.
In lieu of flowers and in memory of Bill, donations may be made to the Parkinson's Institute and Clinical Center, 2500 Hospital Drive, Building 10 Suite 1, Mountain View, CA 94040 or the Brain Support Network, P.O. Box 7264, Menlo Park, CA 94026