William Frank Rossi
1953 - 2021
It is impossible to capture in words the life of Bill Rossi and the impression he left on the hearts of those lucky enough to have known him. Devoted husband, father and “Nonno” (as called by his three grandchildren); cherished brother, uncle, godfather, friend, mentor and confidante; Bill's spirit was one of a kind.
Bill was born to the late Elodia and Joseph Rossi, Sr. on October 21, 1953 in Napa, California. He was raised in Napa with his sister Marie and brother Joseph, Jr. Bill attended Napa schools growing up, graduating from Justin High School (known as “Justin-Siena Highschool” today) in 1972.
It want long after graduating high school that Bill embarked on his journey in real estate and development, making it his lifelong career and one of his many passions. Bill founded WFR Development in 1999; the success of his many ventures over the years is reflective of his steadfast work ethic and love for what he did, every day.
Bill met his wife, Julie, in Napa and they were married on February 16th, 1991. Bill and Julie had two children, son Josh and daughter Victoria, both whom Bill was incredibly proud of. The memories shared as a family are countless, from summers spent at the lake, time at the ranch, backpacking in Yosemite, vacationing in Tahoe, camping in the desert, attending classic car shows and races. Bill innately understood what most of us can only hope to figure out in one lifetime, and that was how to live.
An unwavering pillar of strength and composure, Bill's priority was always Julie and their family. And… their dogs. If you know Bill, you know we cannot write this without mentioning his beloved dogs Maile, Lulu and Lenny. A resident of Yountville, it would not be unusual to see Bill out walking his dogs in his flannel pajamas and slippers.
Although taken from us suddenly and far too soon, Bill's everyday approach to life left little to no room for regrets – words were not left unsaid, actions undone – Bill lived fully and authentically, every single day. He didn't sweat the small stuff. Family and friends were everything. It's really quite simple. And Bill had it figured out.
While Josh and Victoria have had the great privilege of being able to call Bill “Dad”, also fortunate are their friends who had the opportunity to know him. Always humble, forgiving and free of judgment, Bill gave everyone a chance. He was viewed by many as a mentor, a father figure, a friend; his presence alone provided people with a space that felt safe. Bill and Julie, together, built a family and life that even to a complete stranger could feel like home because of their warmth and generosity.
Bill enjoyed cooking and could be found manning the kitchen or grill at most holidays and family functions. Both Bill and his daughter-in-law, Liz, shared in a love for cooking for their family, and doing so together.
Bill relished his role as Nonno to his three grandchildren, Eaven, Luca and Giuliana. Bill and Julie babysat on a weekly basis and often times Bill was on duty for pick-ups and drop-offs. We think he left the harder stuff to Julie, as on more than one occasion Julie has been seen in the driveway of their home in Yountville chasing after a grandchild in a battery-powered kids' mobile, firmly voicing (one might call it “yelling”) her desire for them to stop, while Bill stood in the shade watching (and maybe laughing, too).
Despite our endless list of kind and endearing sentiments about Bill, it is important this be on record: we cannot vouch for his days as an adolescent and the behavior he may have displayed back then (he earned the nickname “Wild Bill” for a reason!); but what we are certain of today, is: Bill was, and is, loved beyond measure. The loss of his life is tremendous, but to feel such a painful loss is only because we were fortunate enough to love someone so much. Knowing and loving Bill was, and is, an honor.
As family and friends have gathered the days after Bill's passing, a reoccurring question has been asked, one that seemingly resonates with most people who knew Bill: “What would Bill do?” An homage to the legend he is, one that will continue to be honored and carried forward forevermore. He may no longer walk this earth with us, but he surely soars beside us.
Left with decades of memories are his siblings Marie Rossi (Mitch) and Joseph Rossi, Jr. (Patricia), and many much-loved nieces and nephews, in-laws, godchildren, and friends.
Bill will be honored in a Celebration of Life on October 1, 2021, from 12pm to 3pm, at the Yountville Community Center - 6516 Washington St, Yountville, CA 94599.
We know the tears are inevitable, but please help us celebrate Bill's life the way he might have hoped – with light, with laughter and with your best Bill stories.
In lieu of flowers we ask that you please visit www.wfrfoundation.orgto view a list of charities to make a donation to, in Bill's honor.