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William Hamilton Cilker Sr.


1919 - 2018
William Hamilton Cilker Sr. Obituary
William Hamilton Cilker, Sr.
March 1, 1919 - April 3, 2018
Lifelong resident of Los Gatos
"Grow. Thrive. Give," you taught us. Thank you for your lessons, your life and your love.
GROW. You were born in the "Valley of the Heart's Delight" to William and Hazel (Lester) Cilker. From an early age, with the loss of your father and the example of your mother's strength, you learned to be self-reliant with a tenacious work ethic. Determined, focused, stubborn and funny, you were always thinking of new ways to get things done. You paid your own way through Stanford University and there met your sweetheart Leila, who tutored you through your "Bonehead English" class. Though World War II took you in separate directions—she to the American Red Cross and you to Detroit to work on Chrysler's airplane engines—you found each other again in California. It was a fine victory!
THRIVE. With Lee you cultivated Cilker Orchards. "I love the soil," you said, but you also grew a loving family. What you two started turned into a family of ten, with Elizabeth (Kenton) Smith, William, Jr. (Elizabeth) Cilker, Carl (Kathleen) Cilker, and Noelle (David) Henderson, then ten more grandchildren with their spouses, and twelve great-grandchildren with more on the way. You delighted when your youngest generation played indoor golf with you, played piano for you, or zoomed your childhood tractor toys around your feet. Simple goodbyes at the front door turned into another half hour of conversation, then a final wave from the driveway.
GIVE. "As you go about your life," you told us, "take time out to help other people." How many marked-up articles, books, bottles of olive oil, packages of walnuts and bags of oranges must you have passed along over the years to just the right person?
So many still benefit from your leadership and compassion: Second Harvest Food Bank, Good Samaritan Hospital, Bible Way Christian Center, West Valley College Foundation, Los Gatos Rotary Club, Los Gatos High School, and numerous nonprofits through your Cilker Family Foundation. You will be remembered for your commitment to your employees and your countless, quiet acts of kindness.
It's only right that we send you off with words from your beloved Lee: "I want to thank Bill for guiding his family with love and encouragement. He has led with diligence and shown loyalty and integrity. For so many of these thoughtful considerations and for the love, opportunities and securities he has given his family, I would like to make this toast."
Bill is preceded in death by his wife Leila Arthur Cilker, parents William Cilker and Hazel Lester Cilker Smith, stepfather Owen Smith, siblings Beatrice Hubbard, Marion Cilker, George Cilker, and grandson Benjamin Cilker. We thank and treasure Stephanie Goodrich for the love and friendship she has given our family these many years.
Services will be held on April 22, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. at Los Gatos Presbyterian Church.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a gift to Second Harvest Food Bank, or using your talents with like-minded others to leave your community a better place.


View the online memorial for William Hamilton Cilker, Sr.
Published in San Jose Mercury News/San Mateo County Times on Apr. 13, 2018
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