Will was born in St. Paul, Minnesota on October 20, 1936 to George and Margaret La Vaque, the youngest of three children. The family moved to Oakland, CA, when Will was a small child, where his father opened La Vaque’s Fine Men’s Clothing store. They spent many summer vacations at one of the many enchanting Cobb Mountain Resorts.
Will, not wanting much to do with city life, became increasingly drawn to the outdoors where he spent much of his time. He made many friends in Lake Co. in his childhood/teen years. Eventually, he took the bus on his own from Oakland to Cobb Mtn. to hunt and fish with his buddies who shared his outdoor interests.
Will enlisted in the army when most of his friends were drafted, not wanting to stay behind. Prior to his enlisting, he met Barbara Burns and they later married in 1961 when Barbara graduated from Providence Nursing College. They had one daughter, Laurie. They lived in Oakland, spending much time at their cabin in Lake Co. During these treks from Oakland to Cobb, they drove through the Napa Valley, especially loving the small town of St. Helena, where they eventually moved in 1971. Years later, they divorced.
Will had worked for many years at Wesco Blower and Pipe in West Oakland as a union Journeyman Sheet Metal Worker. In 1971 he joined the Bell Products, Inc. “family” where he worked until his retirement. His love of the trade, building and fabricating, made for a fulfilled lifelong career.
He was a passionate supporter/member of Napa River Steelhead Unlimited, believing that we must take care of what we have for future generations. He once was photographed for a Napa Register article, assisting a steelhead planting in his Bell Products work shirt! (oops!) (Speaking of photographs in the Napa Register, it was also he who, from the top of a crane, set the original times on the controversial downtown clock tower!) His love of mountains and rivers took him to a small town in Idaho, where he packed out to hunt elk in the later autumn months; steelhead fished the Salmon River, and trout fished the many small streams. During the off seasons, he loved trap shooting as he was an accomplished marksman.
Will’s love of the Quarter Horse, led him to the track owning several amazing race horses, and knowing very talented trainers and jockeys.
In 1994, Will met Ruth Allerton Parker and they married in 1997. They enjoyed many trips and travels leading them to Breaux Bridge, LA, where they spent the next 20 years living on the Bayou Teche, enjoying their wonderful friends, great food and music. Traveling to Nova Scotia had become a favorite place to go for vacation. Most recently, they spent a week salmon fishing on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska with his daughter and family.
Will is survived by his loving wife, Ruth of Breaux Bridge, LA—daughter, Laurie La Vaque Daw (Brian)—granddaughters, Michaela and Adrienne Daw of Napa—sister and brother-in-law, Jackie Endriss (Al) -numerous nieces and nephews, and close friends David Wignall, John Piccolo, Jennine (Wignall) Covey, Walt and Bev Blackmon and Rocky And Lisa Sonnier, all whom he considered family.
Private memorial will be held at a later date.