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August John Bill September 19, 1926 June 17, 2018 Augie passed peacefully away on the daybreak of Father's Day, June 17, 2018. He died from Multiple Myeloma, of which he suffered for almost a year. His loving family surrounded him in his last days. He was 91. Augie was born Sept. 19, 1926 to Harmon and Sophia Bill in Woodland, California. His family lived on an almond farm in nearby Esparto. Augie lost his father to pneumonia when he was only 10 years old. He had an older brother named Richard, & an Uncle Gus (also named August) who lived with them. Augie and Richard both entered the service of our country during WWII-Richard in the army and Augie in the Navy. Augie served in the South Pacific, on the USS Vella Gulf. He wrote his mother every day. He served through the end of the war, and recalled the ship being loaded with army soldiers for the ride home. Upon return to civilian life, Augie went back to school. He went for a job interview in Sacramento at the division of highways office. He accidentally got off the elevator on the wrong floor and ended up being hired by the Department of Water Resources. He spent the next few years as a surveyor, mapping waterways and tributaries in Northern California. While working in the Santa Cruz area, he met the love of his life, Mary Adele Cummings. They were married in 1950, and traveled the state in their small trailer. After the birth of their 3rd child in 1954, they purchased their first home in Davis, CA. Augie had become a civil engineer, and was working for DWR in Sacramento. They had 2 more children, and also took in Mary's youngest sister, Judi. It was a full house of 6 children. In 1966, DWR relocated its office to Red Bluff. A large number of families relocated at the same time. Augie continued to work for DWR until his retirement in 1987. He had worked for the department for 40 years. Augie was a devoted husband and father. He loved the outdoors, and spent his life hiking & fishing all of the backcountry streams and rivers he knew so well. He took his family on many camping and backpacking trips, exploring caves and wildernesses, forging streams, catching fish for dinner and teaching his family survival skills. He taught them respect for nature, appreciation for its magnificence and always left each spot just as he found it. He was a mountain goat, always leading the tribe with his quad map sticking out of the top of his pack. His family enjoyed sleeping under the stars, watching satellites pass by in the black forest sky. His children were not given driving rights until they showed him they could change the tire and the oil in the car. After raising his kids, Augie and Mary continued adventuring. They snorkeled in Belize, traveled the Amazon River, climbed Machu Picchu in Peru & explored Costa Rica. They took an Alaskan cruise with National Geographic & traveled to the ice caves of Scandinavia. While in the Arctic Circle, they reached the North Pole and experienced the day of the midnight sun. They went on many white-water rafting trips, including the Colorado River in the Grande Canyon. They continued backpacking in the Klamath & Coastal Ranges, with the Marble Mountains being their favorite. Augie and Mary traveled extensively in the US, seeing as many national parks and natural wonders as they could find. They visited every state in the US. Augie climbed Mt. Shasta and Mt. Lassen many times. He also was an avid bird-watcher and everywhere he went he identified all the many birds he saw. His list of birds identified at his home was more than 100. Being intelligent and careful in every aspect of his life, Augie was an organic farmer before the word existed. He grew an unbelievable vegetable garden every year, supplying friends and neighbors with his tomatoes and fruits. Nothing was ever wasted. What wasn't given away was canned by Mary, or dried in his fruit dryer. He reused as much as possible- reloading hunting shells, tying his own flies for fishing, repurposing just about everything. His garden shed tells the story-every shovel carefully cleaned after each use, with a varnished handle and his initials branded at the top. They line the wall like obedient soldiers, who love their captain. He had no need for anything fancy but kept well the functional items. He probably leaves behind the smallest carbon footprint of our time between his composting, recycling and wearing his favorite clothes for decades. Money and material things were not of importance to him. He criticized "get-rich-quick schemes, brokers & middlemen, and "sue-happy" people. He valued good, honest work and a job well done. Augie was a student everyday of his life. He loved to learn about nature, history and the Bible. He knew the Bible so well that you could always go to him with any question. He was disciplined in mind, body and soul-eating well, exercising and challenging his mind daily. He did 80 flights of stairs regularly at 91 years of age. Augie was not really a social guy, but he did have many personal relationships that gave him pleasure. He loved family times, his gym friends, the guys at "old fart coffee" and his Bible-study brothers. This was truly a man of the greatest generation. He lived through the Great Depression, fought in the World War, grew up on a farm and raised a beautiful family. He was a man of God his entire life, raising his children in the faith. He held people accountable for their actions. He lived a private life with great discipline and conviction. We must not be sad, but eternally grateful for the gift of this man. Every life he touched was made better. His family and friends all have been given a model of honor, integrity, commitment and good humor. He taught us to be good neighbors, to walk carefully on the earth, to respect and to be in awe of all of God's gifts-the mountains, the forest, the streams, the ocean, the sky and the stars, & to be mindful of even the small things. Augie leaves behind the love of his life, his wife of 68 years, Mary; his 5 children, Bob (Curtis) Bill of Red Bluff, John (Katy) Bill of Woodland, Jim (Mary) Bill of Anderson, Joe (Deneise) Bill of Red Bluff & Lorna (Mike) Gunsauls of Red Bluff; his 9 grandchildren, Braden (Stephanie) Bill of Sacramento, Jessica (Ryan) Scott of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, Sophia (Jesse) Bain of Red Bluff, Ashley (Joe) Bogdan of Redding, Emily Bill of Arcata, Camille (Dave) Tsui of San Francisco, Elisabeth (Austen) Seiler of Crescent City, Brodie Bill of Red Bluff & Jozie Bill of Red Bluff; 6 great-grandchildren, Alexa, Brolan, Jackson, Maisie, Casen & Fyodor, and his nephew Richard Henry, as well as many nieces & nephews, who along with his brothers & sisters in law, he spent vacations, traveled and had many memories with. His wife's family was his family, too. He was predeceased by his mother and brother, both of whom he welcomed into his home in their last days. Visitation is Friday, June 29, 5-7 pm, Rosary 7-8 pm at Hoyt-Cole Funeral Chapel. Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Saturday, June 30, 2018 at 10:00 am at Sacred Heart Church, Red Bluff. Graveside at St. Mary's Cemetery immediately following, with a luncheon reception at the Parish Hall, 2355 Monroe Street, Red Bluff. In lieu of flowers, take a moment to stand in nature and be in awe of God's creation. Take a hike, plant a vegetable or catch a fish. Praise God by living well, taking care and making time for adventures.
Published in Daily News on June 23, 2018
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