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William "Bill" Budge

Obituary for William "Bill" Budge

July 31, 1921 - June 6, 2020
Hillsborough, California | Age 98


William Whithed Budge ("Bill") passed away quietly on June 6, 2020 at his home in Hillsborough. He was ninety-eight.

Bill was born in 1921 to Alexander and Ruth (Whithed) Budge of Honolulu. His Hawaiian childhood was spent swimming, surfing, skin diving and fishing. On his seventeenth birthday Bill, his brother Zander and two friends were fishing off the coast of Molokai when their sampan sank. With the current pushing them away from Molokai, the boys swam for thirteen and one-half hours back to Oahu, landing at Diamond Head and on the local paper's front page. Bill attended the Punahou School in Honolulu and the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut. At Hotchkiss he was the only student with a throw net for fishing and was a member of the football, swimming and track teams.

Bill was enrolled at Williams College in Massachusetts when the United States entered World War II. He left school and entered the Army Air Forces early in 1942. Bill graduated with distinction from the Air Forces Technical School in Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Williams College later credited him for his studies at MIT and awarded him a degree. While serving as a Meteorological Officer Bill took private flying lessons, which led the Army to enroll Bill in flight school learning to fly B-25 bombers. While in flight school Bill set a new swimming record for the base, completing 117 laps of the pool in forty-five minutes (the average trainee did 47.) Bill joined the 9th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron (Provisional) in England in May 1944. The Squadron flew P-51 Mustang fighters over occupied Europe, collecting weather data to develop forecasts in support of the Normandy invasion and American bombing raids. As the fighting front advanced through Europe, 9th Weather Recon moved their base forward to captured airfields in France, Belgium and Germany. Captain William Budge was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Returning to Honolulu after the war, Bill met Willa McNear during a stopover in San Francisco. The couple married two years later, going fishing in Yosemite for their honeymoon. Bill and Willa initially made Honolulu home where Bill established a paint store. In 1951 he joined the Folgers Coffee Company, so Bill and Willa moved to the San Francisco peninsula and raised their family there. Being avid fishermen, the couple began driving to British Columbia each summer. They purchased a fishing cabin near Campbell River in 1959 and soon Bill was teaching his children his "old college tricks" to catch salmon. Also in 1959 Bill, his father and several friends established the Aloha Farms duck-hunting club near Marysville. Bill enjoyed bird shooting and was there nearly every weekend during duck season. Before long, weekends found Bill and Willa duck hunting in the mornings and quail hunting in the Sierra foothills during the afternoons.

Bill left Folgers Coffee in 1965 to establish Pacific Mariculture, on the San Mateo County coast in the shadow of the Pigeon Point lighthouse. For twenty years Pacific Mariculture pioneered techniques to raise commercial quantities of young oysters and abalone in tanks on shore.

Bill was President of the Burlingame Country Club in the late 1960's. He remained an enthusiastic and skilled competitor there at dominoes, backgammon and bridge until late in life. Always a gentleman, Bill's friends describe him as kind, loyal, thoughtful and knowledgeable. They appreciated his clever sense of humor coupled with a gentle demeanor that embraced everyone he encountered.

Over the years Bill remained active and curious. He took up windsurfing in his early sixties and transitioned to scuba diving in his seventies. Diving enabled him to take up underwater photography and catch unwary lobsters. Bill travelled to all seven continents, frequently fishing or hunting. He was known at the Boca Paila Lodge on the Yucatan for his "grand slams" – tarpon, permit and bonefish on a fly, once achieving two grand slams the same day. He flew small planes as a private pilot and earned a commercial helicopter license. In the 1970's Bill and Willa found two important new fisheries and communities: in the north they began steelhead fishing on British Columbia's Dean River and in the south they fished the warmer waters of Baja California at Las Cruces. Bill and Willa returned to their friends in these places every year until Willa became ill near the turn of the century. Bill, himself, carried on.

In 2003 Bill married Elena Eaton of Stonington, Connecticut. Born a Californian, Elena joined Bill in Hillsborough. The couple was able to enjoy a decade together.

Bill Budge was predeceased by his parents, Alexander and Ruth Budge, by his brothers Alexander Grow Budge, Jr. and Hamilton Whithed Budge, by his sister Ruth "Luki" Nowicki, and by his wives Willa Budge and Elena Eaton Budge. He is survived by his children Elizabeth d'Hemery (Philippe), Joseph Budge (Sharon Kennedy), Jennifer Budge, and Willa "Katie" Merrill (Steven), by his step-daughter Brooke Eaton, by ten grandchildren and by eight great-grandchildren. Services will be private. The family anticipates a memorial celebration in the future to include Bill's many relatives and friends.

Bill founded the Solid Rock Foundation in 1992. Solid Rock is a private foundation that supports programs for disadvantaged youths. Additionally Bill was committed to philanthropic support of adolescent programs at Samaritan House San Mateo, Students Rising Above, and Reading Partners of the San Francisco Bay Area. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made in William Budge's memory to one of the latter three organizations.

Private family services have been arranged.

Suggested Memorial Donations

  • In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions be made to:
  • Reading Partners
    180 Grand Avenue, Suite 800
    Oakland, CA 94612

Arrangements By

Crosby-N. Gray & Co. - FD-96

2 Park Road
Burlingame, CA 94010
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