March 28, 1934 — Oct. 13, 2013
Bill “Chick” Ceccarelli passed away peacefully at home early Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013, after a long battle with leukemia. He will be remembered as a great husband and father, an educator, an endless joke-teller with a wonderful sense of humor and a valued friend to so many.
Bill was born in Dos Palos, Calif., in 1934, the oldest son to Margaret and Merle Ceccarelli and older brother to Jim. The family was not well off, but Bill would fondly tell stories of growing up in a small farming town. He was popular in school, known for all sorts of antics, and was voted “Class Cut Up” for his Dos Palos High Class of 1951. Many of his high school friends were surprised to hear he had later become a high school administrator!
Bill was the first in his family to go to college. He attended Coalinga Junior College, then graduated from San Jose State University in 1955. He started his teaching career in 1956 at Benner Intermediate School in Sunnyvale, then moved to El Dorado County in 1963. He taught Driver’s Training and PE and coached football and baseball at El Dorado High School until 1967. He left the area to start his administrative career in 1967 when he moved the family to Maui and spent a year as the Vice Principal at Lahainaluna High School, Hawaii’s oldest high school.
Bill returned to El Dorado County as an Administrator, holding positions that would include Principal at Independence High School, Principal at the El Dorado Adult School, and Vice Principal at Ponderosa High School though 1971. He was Principal at Ponderosa from 1971-1985, served as the Director/Principal for the district’s Alternative Education Programs from 1985-1987, then returned full circle to El Dorado High School, where he finished his career as Principal until his retirement in 1992.
Bill was very respected among his peers and served as an Executive Board Member for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), an accreditation organization that evaluates high schools in California, Hawaii and the Far East. In this role, he visited schools in Guam, Thailand, Malaysia and Hong Kong. Upon retirement, one WASC member described Bill as follows: “As an educational leader, Bill was clear in his expectations, willing to delegate authority, trusting that those so delegated could and would do a good job, and always supportive of those who worked with him. He created a positive environment in the schools in which he worked and, through it all, Bill kept a proper perspective as to what is really important.”
Bill and wife, Bobbie, made the most of their 21 years in retirement. As part owners of Hangtown Travel, they travelled extensively. Together they took 13 cruises and visited Italy, England and several other European countries. They travelled twice to Australia to visit the exchange student who lived with the family while Bill was Principal at Ponderosa. Bill had his pilot’s license and they were known to fly to Northern California destinations for lunch and sometimes golf. They took numerous trips in their fifth wheel, loading up their bikes and golf clubs, heading off for days or weeks. The family has dozens of photo albums in which Bill documented their travels.
Bill made friends for life and there are so many who feel lucky to call him a friend and mentor. He and Bobbie kept in touch with their “Bronco Buddies,” a group of high school friends who met annually. They socialized with their Monday Night Football gang each football season. He was a member and past President at Cold Springs Golf and Country Club. Bill organized quarterly breakfast gatherings for the County’s retired high school administrators and clerical staff and he loved seeing good friends at the “Old Coaches” breakfasts each month. It’s a sign of Bill’s character that he remained close personal friends with many of the students he taught and coached and teachers he hired. No matter where they went, the family often made bets that he would run into someone he knew.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents, Margaret and Merle; his loving wife, Bobbie; and his dog, Sam. He is survived by brother, Jim Ceccarelli and sister-in-law, Jerri; son, Andy Ceccarelli, daughter-in-law, Maureen and granddaughter, Kelsey; daughter, Laurie Ceccarelli Waters, good friend and son-in-law, Jack, grandson, Jake and granddaughter, Katie; daughter, Sally Ceccarelli-Wolf, grandson, John, granddaughter, Jessica, great-grandson, Rylan and great-granddaughter, Bella; and his dog, Zipper.
A memorial service to celebrate Bill’s life will be held at noon on Saturday, Oct. 26, at Green Valley Community Church on Missouri Flat Road in Placerville. In lieu of flowers Bill asked that donations be sent in his name to the El Dorado Community Foundation, P.O. Box 1388, Placerville, CA 95667.