William Sanford McKenna was born in Downey, California, on September 14, 1954, and he came in like gangbusters. He was a big baby. Ten pounds! And he arrived equipped with a sturdy set of lungs that served him well throughout his life. Bill always made himself heard. He arrived with an appetite for mischief and a well-developed sense of humor, too. Bill was amused by the endless absurdities of life, and he liked to laugh, and to tease people, and if you did it with finesse, you could tease him back. Bill could be a lot of fun. The only son of a single mother, he grew up surrounded by women – two older sisters, a mother, a grandmother, and lots of aunts. There weren’t any men around, and Bill had to figure out how to be a man by himself; that he succeeded in doing this is impressive and admirable. He was raised by a working mother who instilled a strong work ethic in him, and Bill was always a worker, eager to up the ante, and advance, and work harder. That served him well in life, too.
After spending the majority of his childhood in La Mirada, California, Bill completed high school a few miles away in Fullerton, then attended Fullerton College from 1973 through 1975, taking general education classes. By that point in his life Bill knew that he loved music, and although he was a gifted guitarist and music would always play a central role in his life, he didn’t want to make that his life’s work, and hadn’t yet decided on a career. Then, his path in life was set in 1975 when he was hired as a supervisor at Karco, a company specializing in cosmetic car repairs; he spent the rest of his life working with automobiles. It wasn’t a subject he was wildly interested in, but he was good at it, and by 1980 he’d moved on to a firm where he mastered the finer points of insurance claim adjusting.
It was during those years that he met Beverly Wiegman. They met in 1988, to be specific, and two years later he made the best decision of his life and married her. Most of the joy Bill experienced in his adult life can be attributed to Bev’s presence; she was his rock, and she loved him, and understood him, and when it was necessary – and, yes, sometimes it was necessary – she was willing to put up with him. She did that with patience and understanding. Their wedding in 1990 coincided with a new job for Bill, at State Farm Insurance, and he remained at the company for fifteen years. Bill and Bev settled into a spacious house in Lake Elsinore, then in 1991 their daughter, Jennifer McKenna, was born; this was a life changing event for Bill. If Bev was Bill’s rock, Jen was his shining star; she grew up to be an extraordinary young woman, wise beyond her years, loving, generous -- and funny, of course. Bill was a master of teasing banter and Jen could give as good as she got. He adored his little girl.
In 2005 Bill had the opportunity to partner with Shawn Hezar in an auto body repair shop, Platinum Coach Works, and at that point his life went into overdrive. He worked very long days managing a crew of sixty people and he loved it. The people who worked for him loved him back, too. Bill was an extremely sensitive, intensely loyal person, and he made it a point to do right by the people he interacted with on the job. Bill had a streak of Tony Soprano in him and liked being in charge, and he flourished during his years at Platinum. It was a physically arduous job, however, and about eight years in he began experiencing health problems that grew steadily worse. By 2015 it had become clear that he needed to retire -- which he did -- but Bill wasn’t cut out for retirement. He was a social creature who loved setting tasks for himself and getting them done. He loved people and loved being in the mix out in the world. He loved John Lennon, dogs and cats, motorcycles, movies, his best friend Roman, guitars, the desert, and many, many other things. Bill had a very big spirit, and a big circle of people he cared about, and he left us all much, much too soon when he passed on March 30th, 2018.
In addition to his wife and daughter, Bill is survived by his two sisters, two brother in laws, one sister in law, one niece and two nephews.