Bill Wetzel always had a twinkle in his eye. As an entrepreneur, idea man, devoted husband, caring father and faithful friend, his love for life was pervasive in all he did. That twinkle ascended to the stars on Sunday, May 22. He was 73.
William Norman Wetzel was born on April 2, 1943 in Oakland, CA to William and Winifred Wetzel. With his younger sister Winette, the Wetzels moved to Bakersfield in 1952. A member of the swim team and Future Farmers of America, he graduated from Bakersfield High School in 1961. He attended Fresno State where he met his future wife Karen. They were married in 1965 and raised two sons Mitchell and Vincent.
Over the years, Bill, always his own boss, cultivated an entrepreneurial spirit. For many years, he owned and operated Agri-Spread servicing many area farmers and after taking over for his father, Bill built Bully Boy into a successful landscape supply business. Thousands of Bakersfield lawns have been delivered to homes by bright yellow and green trucks through Bill's sod ventures, Bakersfield Redi-Lawn and Oasis Turf. He also earned U.S. patents for a consumer-friendly cement mixer trailer and a large-scale, industrial lawn mower.
Through it all, he was joined by Karen. Through more than 50 years of marriage, they loved sharing the horse races with friends, driving around in the Corvettes and Cadillacs, listening to the music of Louis Prima and Dean Martin, and enjoying the tastes of donut holes, ice cream and champagne cake. He served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for children in the foster care system and supported parent-teacher groups for his children.
Bill and his family were grateful to the care and compassion he received from his doctors, the staff at Fresenius Medical Care and the nurses at Mercy Southwest hospital.
Bill's endearing quality was his authenticity and friendship. He was quick to pick up the phone and dial a friend to just check in or to ask after a family member. When someone talked to Bill, his sincerity was genuine and a connection established. He is survived by Karen, Mitchell and Kristy, Vincent and Kristen, Winette and Craig and his five grandchildren, Sydney, Jackson, Cooper, Ava and Natalie. Memorial services will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, May 30 at the Bakersfield First United Methodist Church (4600 Stockdale Ave.). In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to CASA of Kern County.
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