December 25, 1931 – August 14, 2020
William F. Schick, a Los Altos resident for more than 55 years, died Aug. 14 after a two-year battle with acute myeloid leukemia.
Bill was born on Christmas Day in 1931 in San Francisco to Francis and Susan Schick. An only child, he enjoyed exploring the city and much of Northern California with his parents. He walked across the Golden Gate Bridge on its opening day in 1937, witnessed shipwrecks and rescue efforts off of Land’s End and attended the World’s Fair/Golden Gate Exposition on Treasure Island multiple times in 1939 and 1940. Many of their adventures are recorded on home movies that are starting to be added to a YouTube history channel, such as one recently uploaded chronicling life in San Francisco during the 1930s at youtu.be/EcXaUztoDr8.
While a student at Roosevelt Junior High and Polytechnic High, he worked weekends at the Children’s Playground in Golden Gate Park. This was at the end of World War II during a manpower shortage, so as a teen Bill directly oversaw the merry-go-round, the donkey ride and the Kiddie Car ride, a job that previously had been managed by adults. He then moved to the concession booths, selling hot dogs and cotton candy. He made coffee for the press box at the 49ers’ Kezar Stadium games.
Bill was drafted and spent two years in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, part of the time stationed in Germany. Once his military service ended, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from UC Berkeley.
Bill met his wife, Loretta, while attending Cal. After graduation, they moved to Menlo Park and then Los Altos in 1964. They had two sons, Steve and Paul, and loved to spend time with each. Bill was active in the YMCA program for boys, Y-Guides, and later in Boy Scouts. He was a frequent volunteer at their home church, Union Presbyterian of Los Altos, serving for a decade as an elder on the building and grounds team.
Over the span of his 40-year engineering career, he designed custom communication equipment at Philco/Ford and GTE/Sylvania and traveled all over the world. He was known for his ability to solve difficult problems and challenges and was regarded as “an engineer’s engineer.” He loved his career and its many achievements.
After Loretta died of cancer in 1994, Bill was blessed to find a new mate, Viola, to share his retirement years. They square danced, traveled, attended concerts and plays, and remained active at Union Presbyterian. He played tennis regularly, attended Sons In Retirement meetings and volunteered at the Los Altos Senior Center doing minor home repairs for local seniors.
Bill and Viola relocated to the San Diego area in 2019.
Bill’s family will remember him as a kind, generous and devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He was a humble, modest man who put others’ needs before his own and appreciated the small joys in life.
Bill is survived by his wife, Viola; sons Steve (Colleen) and Paul (Wanda); granddaughters Kate Irby (Nathan) and Jenna Howard (Harrison); and great-grandchildren Beckham Irby, Sloane Irby and Teddy Howard.
He was laid to rest Oct. 9 at Alta Mesa Memorial Park in Palo Alto. The family held a small, socially distanced celebration in his honor.