William (“Bill”) Sutliff Davis was born Feb. 1, 1952 in Aledo, a small farming community in western Illinois, where his mother, Marie Sutliff Davis, moved the year before to spend her pregnancy with her older sister Edith while Bill’s father, Robert, was recalled by the U.S. Army to serve in the Korean conflict. He was the second of four children, following behind his sister Sara (“Sally”). His years as the baby of the family were cut short by the arrival two years later of his brother John (“Jack”) who would be his roommate for the next 17 years. The family moved in 1959 from Racine, Wisconsin, to Southern California, settling in Claremont, where the fourth child, a boy named Thomas (“Tom”) was born in 1961.
Bill loved baseball and played Little League as he grew up. He kept the Angels (not the Dodgers) as his favorite home team the rest of his life, which caused some friction with his mom who became a dedicated A’s fan after moving to the Bay Area in 1972.
At Claremont High School Bill played varsity soccer, another sport he followed he rest of his life. Bill began to work as a sophomore at Claremont High School, where he graduated in 1970, after which he received a relatively low draft number — 86 out of 366 — and waited to see if he would be called up to fight in Vietnam. Fortunately, the war was winding down and he was not needed. Bill remained in Claremont, staying with the family of his best friend and later moved with them to Boulder Colorado, where he lived for more than a decade. He worked for a time stocking the shelves at Liquor Barn, one of the biggest liquor stores in the world at that time and it was here that Bill’s life long interest in wines began. He would eventually work selling wines to restaurants throughout Eastern Colorado. In Colorado, Bill waited tables and cooked tableside for many years at the Greenbriar Inn, a Michelin-rated restaurant at the foot of the Rocky Mountains that repeatedly won the Wine Spectator’s Best Award of Excellence, It was here where his life-long interest in cooking began. Bill returned to California at the end of the 1980s.
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In the San Jose area, Bill continued to work in the hospitality industry at various restaurants and catering companies while attending college classes to become a graphic designer. He met and married Lenore McKenna in 1993 and they moved to San Francisco, where their first son Joseph Carter Davis was born. In 1994, Bill moved with his family to a vineyard property in St. Helena. Bill and Lenore welcomed twin sons in 1997-Andrew McKenna Davis and Wilson James Davis.
Bill worked as a caretaker on the estate providing hospitality service to the family and their friends and guests. He continued designing memorable meals in this environment and remained working for the Crocker family for 23 years until he became ill with a rare neurological disorder.
Bill will be remembered for his gentle kindness, his incredible work ethic and his devotion to ice cream, baseball and the Golden State Warriors. He was unfailingly thoughtful and generous in every way. His integrity, humor and analytical common sense brought great comfort to his family until the last days of his life.
A service to celebrate Bill’s memory will take place on the afternoon of November 21st at the arbor at Crocker Starr winery at 3:30.