Our father, Willard (Bill) Vernile St. John, 90, passed away suddenly on December 14, 2016 at his home in Napa. Bill was a loving and kind husband, father and grandfather with a wonderful sense of humor. All who entered his home were made to feel welcome and became a part of his family.
In honor of his life we would like to invite family and friends to join us at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery 5810 Midway Road Dixon, CA on Thursday, December 22, at 10:00 AM for a full military honors service and a reception to follow at the Dixon LDS Church 305 N. Lincoln Street.
He was born to Willis and Lillie St. John on March 14, 1926 at the family homestead in Alturas, California. He is one of eight children. As a small boy, he rode horses and helped his parents’ and grandparents’ with their homesteads. At the age of eight he worked for a neighbor as a ranch hand helping with livestock, sheep shearing and haying. When he was 13, his mother passed away and he lived with various family members until he moved to Chico with Uncle Lee and Aunt Belle Cramer before he was drafted.
In 1944 he received a letter to join the Armies of the United States and became a part of the Occupation Army as a Military Police Officer serving in France, England, Germany and Austria where he meet his first wife, Helga. While in Europe, he was transferred to the Army Air Corp, which became the United States Air Force and served as a Staff Sergeant, the highest rate for a noncommissioned officer.
During the Korean War, Bill served in the Philippines and was in charge of supplies. In 1956, he was stationed in France as a part of the 50th Fighter Bomber Wing, Supply Squadron during the Vietnam conflict. After returning stateside he served at Walker AFB in Roswell, New Mexico and retired from active duty at Travis Air Base in 1964 and continued in the reserves for an additional 10 years. Bill was a retired Soldier for Life.
In 1958, while on leave he met his brother Lt. Col. Wesley St. John and sister in-law Gladys at the Travis AFB NCO Club. Gladys introduced her fellow hairdresser from Napa’s Carma’s Cut and Curl, Joy Fritter Ransford for a blind date. That night, Bill met the love of his life and married Joy in October 1958. Bill and Joy were married 57 years before her death on May 23, 2015.
Bill provided for his large and growing family working for 24 years in the Department of Corrections at Vacaville Medical Center from 1964 to 1988. After retirement, he stayed at home in Napa and enjoyed being a Grandpa. Family was the utmost importance to Bill. His home was always open to anyone in the family needing a home, a bed or a hot meal.
Bill enjoyed family, barbequing, gardening and fishing. In his younger years he helped with 4-H camp, cooked hamburgers annually at the Napa fair for the Salvador Parents Club. He was active with the Sea Scouts when needed. He was a member of the Napa Parlor of Native Sons of the Golden West. In recent years he become the primary caregiver for his wife in her declining years.
Some of Bills recent highlights include witnessing the commissioning of his granddaughter Nicole Stegall to Ensign in US Navy. His first visit to Disneyland in October and welcoming his newest great grandchildren Charlotte and Cash to the family.
Bill is survived by his children, Loretta St. John, William St. John, Cynthia Bacci, Leo St. John, Tina Huff, Regan Ransford St. John and Tracy St. John; brother, Arthur (Ruth) St. John of Alturas; 17 Grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren and 3 great-great grandchildren.
He is preceded in death by his wife, Joy; his daughters, Leslie Brice and Juliet St. John; both parents; his brothers Ira, Wesley, and Ray; sisters Violet, Lauretta, and Arthada.
The family would like to thank the many caregivers and friends who have helped Bill over the past few years, especially Gail Allen, Shauna and Alex Bush, Brenda Garcia, Wesley St. John, Ron Rolls Evelyn Collins and Hospice by the Bay. Memories may be shared with the family online at