Sunday, 19 May 2024

William Brian Berkey Jr.


“Death is a challenge, it tells us not to waste time, it tells us to tell each other right now that we love each other.” – Leo Buscalia

“Bill” (as his friends knew him) passed away at St. Helena Hospital Clearlake in Clearlake, Calif., on Jan. 22, 2012, following a six-month illness caused by a stroke.

Born Aug. 4, 1933 in Hawaii, he survived the attack on Pearl Harbor, and along with his family was transported to the mainland.

Bill grew up in Paso Robles and graduated from Paso Robles High School in 1951. After graduation, he joined the Navy and proudly served his country during the Korean War.

Bill married Anna Santos, and together they had a daughter and a son.

Following their divorce, Bill moved to San Francisco, where he met Harold Riley, his soulmate and domestic partner for 38 years.

The two were married in 2005 in Clearlake, Calif., during the short period of time that same sex marriage was legal in California.

Bill would’ve been proud that on Feb. 7, 2012, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that the California voter-approved ban on same sex marriage, Proposition 8, violates the United States Constitution. In doing so, they found that the ban “served no purpose, and had no effect other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California and to officially reclassify their relationship and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.”

Bill worked very hard gathering signatures of voters to encourage them not to vote for Proposition 8.

In 1995, Bill and Harold moved to Lake County and both became political junkies. Together they served on the Lake County Democratic Central Committee and were the founders of the South Lake Democratic Club.

In 2008 they founded the Stonewall Democratic Club-Matthew Sheppard Chapter to serve the lesbian, gay, and bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Community. Bill served as the treasurer up until his death, and was so careful with the group’s money that he became known as “Miser Bill.”

Bill was a whiz at Pac-Man and loved to do crossword puzzles and play computer games. He was filled with love and humor to the moment he slipped away.

He is survived by his spouse of 38 years, Harold Riley; sister, Alberta Richetti of San Miguel, Calif.; daughter, Emily Deakin of Camarillo, Calif.; son, William Brian Berkey III; and granddaughters, Tina and Lisa Deakin.

Rest in peace dear friend, and know that the memories we shared with you will be forever in our hearts.

A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, March 3, at Clearlake Methodist Church at 3 p.m., 12487 The Plaza, Clearlake Oaks, where Bill and Harold were members.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Hospice Services of Lake County 1717 S. Main St., Lakeport, CA 95453.

Arrangements entrusted to Jones & Lewis Clear Lake Memorial Chapel, Lower Lake, 707-994-6417, .

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