Thursday, 03 December 2020

William ‘Bill’ Kranz

Bill Kranz. Courtesy photo.

LAKEPORT, Calif. – There was a worn-down broken old house in downtown Lakeport, just a few blocks from the office where Bill would work as a small-town lawyer for the next 46 years. From the moment he saw that old house, he loved it and figured it would be a good place to build a life.

He was a young boy living in Cody, Wyoming, when he decided to be a lawyer. There were a few stops along the way to that small-town house and lawyer’s office.

After Cody, he went to high school in Ontario, Oregon, where he first met Colleen. After high school, he went to college at Gonzaga in Spokane, Washington. That’s where he met Mary.

Because law school at Hastings took him to San Francisco, a whole new world opened to this small-town boy. Hippies, dope, the Summer of Love, concerts in Golden Gate Park … he took it all in.

Bill and Mary explored restaurants and theaters, beaches and movie houses, and walked the hills of San Francisco. At the height of the Vietnam draft, Bill struck a deal with Uncle Sam. Four years as an Army JAG lawyer in exchange for getting to finish law school in those uncertain years. Here was a long-haired law student on his way to the Army marching in peace rallies.

Mary and Bill married and headed across the country to the first of several exotic destinations chosen by the US Army–Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. Among the books he took were Hoyle’s Book of Rules and The Bartender’s Guide. His daughter Jenny was born in Pennsylvania.

But card games and cocktails in rural Pennsylvania didn’t last long. Phu Bai, South Vietnam was calling for a JAG lawyer. Always a movie lover, Bill was the movie projectionist for Camp Eagle. Each night a movie and then, goodnight, Vietnam. Fort MacArthur in San Pedro, California finished out Bill’s Army days, and that’s where his daughter Kirsten was born.

One day he loaded up the family in a little blue Fiat and moved to Lakeport, to that old house and small office and built a life. The law practice grew, the friends grew, the house grew, and a basketball court was added. Over 25 years of Sunday morning old guys’ games there was a revolving roster of probably 50 players.

Bill found time for so many things. Board games and card games, snow skiing, water skiing, tennis, biking, golfing. The county fair, mowing the lawn, local theater, sourdough pancakes and concerts in the park. Bill was always open to any and everything. Except Scrabble, he didn’t like Scrabble.

But into every life some rain does fall. Bill and Mary divorced, but later at the 40th reunion of their Ontario High School class, Colleen again entered Bill’s life. They married, traveled to faraway places and golfed together, and they kept working on that old house for almost 20 years. Bill’s friends became Colleen's friends, and Colleen’s friends became Bill’s friends, and Colleen and Mary became friends too.

Bill died on Oct. 4, 2020, in the house he loved. The people who had lived in it with him were there. He was OK with leaving life. He had lived his life with enthusiasm and gusto. If life wasn’t a cabaret, it was at least a barbecue and some backyard croquet. Oh, and a Hole in One. Just the finishing touch.

To cement the memory of Bill, here’s his last joke. A Hospice worker asked him how his days were. He said, “Well mornings are bad. I wake up every day and we still have the same president.”

Happy Trails, sweet prince, and enjoy the ride to Hushabye Mountain.

Arrangements by Chapel of the Lakes Mortuary, 707-263-0357 or 707-994-5611, or visit www.chapelofthelakes.com.

Upcoming Calendar

3Dec
12.03.2020 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Clearlake City Council
5Dec
12.05.2020 5:30 pm - 5:45 pm
Virtual Christmas tree lighting
5Dec
12.05.2020 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Gallery Open Reception: Home
Middletown Art Center
5Dec
12.05.2020 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Clearlake Christmas Parade
5Dec
6Dec
12Dec
12.12.2020 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
13Dec
12.13.2020 8:30 am - 11:00 am
American Legion Post breakfast
19Dec
12.19.2020 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
24Dec
12.24.2020
Christmas Eve

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