November 6, 2022
William Natale Palladini passed away Sunday morning, November 6, in Sonoma, California, just as the time “fell back” from 2AM to 1AM. He died from gastric cancer that had metastasized, along with multiple complications, and is survived by his wife of 56 years Carol (79), and his three sons, Doug (56), Jeff (54) and Mike (46).
Bill was born in Castellarano, Reggio Emilia, Italy, on March 22, 1943, the first child of Aldino (born Castellarano, February 1, 1914) and Ada Palladini (a naturalized citizen born in the US while her father was working as a coal miner in Iowa), amid the trials and tribulations of WWII. Desperate to escape the ravages of war, Ada came to the US to establish residency. Then, in 1948, Bill, along with his father, Aldo, and his brother David, boarded the MV Vulcania in Genoa and, with third-rate passage, made his way through Ellis Island, eventually joining Ada in the northern suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. And while their first US outpost was the basement of another family’s home, all were exceedingly pleased to be in America.
Bill’s US life took root in the Highwood neighborhood of Highland Park, Illinois, along with a substantial contingent of Italian immigrants seeking a better life. In addition to the typical childhood activities of school and sports, Bill worked alongside his father when possible, first as a stone mason and then a gardener, where he developed an extremely green thumb that would remain a constant throughout his life. He also got another brother when Mario was born. Bill worked as a caddie at Exmore Country Club, where he developed a life-long passion for golf, earning a low, single-digit handicap and several club championships along the way. In high school, where Bill played along the offensive line for the Highland Park High School football team, he met classmate Carol Goldman, fell in love, and formed a relationship that lasted a lifetime.
Bill and Carol went separate ways for college… at first! Carol left for Missouri while Bill attended Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. But the long-distance relationship didn’t last long, and by the second semester of their Freshman year, Carol had transferred to Bradley. Bill paid his tuition by working for the school, at his fraternity, and accepting any odd job he could. Bill moved from studying engineering to business and graduated in 1954. He had heard about some on-campus interviews, which included IBM, and when he made a connection with the recruiter, he was given an entry-level roll and sent to corporate training.
Bill and Carol re-located to Bloomington, Illinois, and less than a year later, their first son Douglas Charles was born on a hot July day where you could see corn fields stretching for miles in every direction from the hospital window. While Bill sold early copying and computing machines, Carol kept their home, and their adult life got underway. Second son Jeffrey William was born on the Leap Year of 1968, and in 1970, Bill and Carol were able to purchase their first home in Deerfield, Illinois.
Bill moved on from IBM to a family-run printing business, which in turn led to a printing sales opportunity in Los Angeles, California: The warm California sun made it an easy decision. The family relocated to the Westwood area of LA in 1972 and Bill went to work selling printing for Litho Sales, a business he would end up owning and running many years later. Bill and Carol became deeply involved in causes based on preventing violent conflict and bringing people together around the world, such as Beyond War and Creative Initiative Foundation. Third son Michael Anthony was born on January 6, 1976, and in 1977 the family again relocated, this time to Glendale, an LA suburb north of the city, so Bill could be closer to work, which was located in nearby Eagle Rock.
In 1986, Bill and Carol, along with Mike, moved to Pasadena, just down the 134 freeway from Glendale. When Mike left for Northern Arizona University in 1994, the Palladini nest was officially empty. The couple traveled extensively across Europe, New Zealand, and The Americas, but California was always home. Then, in 1995, Bill and Carol found an opportunity to build a home of their own, from scratch. They acquired a spectacular piece of land looking over the Pacific Ocean in Montecito, California, and set out to build their dream home, an Italian villa. They settled into the Santa Barbara area and expanded their give-back efforts to include CASA, many environmental concerns, and a new Women’s Fund set up by Carol herself. On many weekends, Bill and Carol entertained friends and family, including grandchildren from all three sons.
As Bill looked for new ways to keep his bright green thumb in use, and with Litho Sales sold and firmly in his rear-view mirror, he came across a very special opportunity in nearby Ojai to purchase a large orchard of avocados and tangerines. Going all in, he remodeled the existing home on the property and added a guest house, while dramatically increasing productivity across the orchard, delivering prize-winning Haas avocados and Pixie tangerines to the packing house each week. As he invested more and more time in the orchard, Bill and Carol sold the Montecito house and consolidated their lives in Ojai to a more rural and quiet life. Supporting farmers, those who advocate for environmental protections, and land trusts became very important to Bill and Carol. Seeing beyond their own family to leave the world a better place was always important to the couple, but it seemed to take on additional meaning during their time in Ojai.
When the effects of Carol’s Alzheimer’s worsened, Bill and Carol opted to move closer to family, sold the orchard, and made their final move to Sonoma, California, in the same town as youngest son Mike and also close to Jeff. While much of Bill’s time and energy was spent in loving care of Carol, he became very fond of mountain biking and spent hours peddling through the vineyards surrounding their neighborhood. He also snuck in nine holes of golf whenever he could at the Sonoma Golf Club and followed the PGA Tour on TV. He loved spending more time with his grandchildren Cassin and Viola and regularly ferried them to and from school and soccer practice. And while the space for his green thumb had shrunk considerably, he still managed bumper crops of raised-bed vegetables.
In the spring of 2022, a bad heart valve he had been nursing for some time worsened, and when he was finally hospitalized to treat it, gastric cancer that had metastasized was found. At Stage 4, the cancer was inoperable, but Bill still tried everything available to fight it. In the end, the bad cells won out, but during those difficult times, Bill was comforted by spending considerable time with his three sons.
The American Dream means so many things. And while post-WWII immigrants such as Bill did not find the streets paved with gold, many did create rich lives nonetheless. Bill’s incredibly full life was one of these. He came a long way, both literally and figuratively, experienced a beautiful life full of family, friends and fortune, and leaves behind a strong legacy carried forth by his children and grandchildren.
November 6, 2022