BY GABE LICHT
“It’s nice waking up in Delano.”
Bill Sarine was known to say this often, his longtime friend Mike Dekarski told me as we shared our memories of Bill following his passing Jan. 8.
Bill was not only fond of Delano, despite only living here for about five years, but he also made Delano a welcoming place for others, myself included.
He was one of the first people I met in Delano, while I was visiting the Delano Senior Center. I specifically remember him telling a story about his time at Fordham University that some may have considered scandalous or embarrassing, and yet he had no problem telling a complete stranger.
Bill was an open book full of many stories. I heard some of those stories while sitting next to Bill at Lions and Delano Area Chamber of Commerce meetings, and I’ve heard more of his stories secondhand from his friends, as well.
He shared many stories as a member of the senior writers’ group.
“Bill had a successful business career and wide-ranging life experiences, which he shared and expanded in imaginative words and spell-binding stories,” writers’ group organizer Ted May told me. “ . . . He was a lively addition to the senior writers’ group and to discussions of local issues.”
It was in the writers’ group that he met Dale Vander Linden and Roger Swenson.
Dale called Bill a very gracious gentleman, while Roger remembers telling others he had just met a very interesting person.
Both mentioned Bill’s entrepreneurial spirit, which began at a young age. When Bill was 12 or 13 years old, he started a newspaper-delivery service in the New Jersey town where he lived.
“He was making very good money for a 12-year-old,” Dale said.
In high school, he moved on to larger deliveries, dropping off loads of hay for horse owners.
Bill went on to work as a sales manager for General DataComm, where Mike worked for him in 1982 and 1983. The two stayed in touch, and Mike was thrilled when Bill and his wife, Karen, moved to Delano.
Before doing so, Bill founded Global Data Networking Systems, Inc., a sales and consulting firm; and EntreDot, a non-profit organization focused on mentoring and coaching small, early-stage companies.
Bill was passionate about helping fellow entrepreneurs and got involved with the DACC.
“He was kind of unaffiliated, so I said, ‘Say you’re with the orchard because you’re always giving me advice,’” Dekarski said. “He was behind the scenes.”
Bill especially enjoyed encouraging and inspiring young people, as evidenced by a story Roger told me.
Bill once met a black Baptist pastor on an airplane and decided later to take him up on an offer to visit anytime he happened to be in the same town. When doing so, he had the opportunity to meet teenagers from the pastor’s church.
Young men in the group talked about wanting to join the service or become police officers, while they downplayed a young woman who said she wanted to become a doctor.
Bill didn’t downplay anything, but rather encouraged all the young people in the room.
He later learned that encouragement paid off when he happened to be in the same town again years later and was pulled over by one of the young men who had gone on to become a police officer. Bill was excited to learn that the young woman was pursuing her dreams in medical school.
That’s just one example of how Bill believed in people and the effect that confidence had on them.
I experienced that firsthand, as he shared advice and ideas for the paper.
He was always direct and genuine.
He was even open about his terminal diagnosis.
I found out later that he had been given 18 months to live about four years ago.
I’m so thankful that Bill outlived his prognosis, giving him the opportunity to impact me and many others in Delano.
I will miss Bill, and I pray for peace and comfort for his family, and everyone who knew him, during this time of loss.