William "Chili Bill" Eichinger
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William "Chili Bill" Eichinger

Born in Perry, MO on March 6, 1946, William "Chili Bill" Eichinger came of age in Kansas City, MO. A forty-three year resident of his beloved San Francisco, Chili Bill left us for the final barstool in the beyond on September 6, 2013.

Adopted at six months of age by Gertrude and Marsh Eichinger, Bill moved from Nevada, MO to KC at an early age. In his teens, he attained the rank of Eagle Scout and was a middle distance track champion. Before Bill graduated from Westport High School in KC, he developed his love for jazz, blues, R & B and rock and roll. In the mid-1960's he rubbed shoulders with the likes of Percy Sledge, Garnet Mimms, Pattie Labelle and Wilson Pickett - to give a flavor of his musical appreciation. Later in the 60's, he was an on-air personality for KCJC progressive FM in Kansas City and had a late night rock show called "Barnacle Bill, the All Night Sailor".

Chili made the move to San Francisco on June 10, 1970. Early on he worked for the US Postal Service, in the wine industry and as a line cook. He drove a taxi for Yellow Cab for many years - an avocation that provided him with many stories to recount to his friends and patrons.

Bill was most widely known in San Francisco as a bartender's bartender. Among the fine establishments where he plied his trade were Vesuvio's in North Beach, Benders in the Mission and, for the past twenty-four years, Finnegans Wake in Cole Valley. A living encyclopedia of jokes, Chili could spread a laugh across the corner of a bar. And with his curmudgeonly streak, he could quickly wither a patron who had wandered too far from the Marina.

A connoisseur of all films and especially obscure martial arts movies, a reader of every literary genre and a loyal fan of the San Francisco Giants, Bill's interests knew few bounds. One was usually at a loss to challenge him at Jeopardy or Scrabble. His morning habit included coffee and the newspaper crossword puzzle.

Food played another major role in Chili's life. His food blog slogan said it all - "Eat to Live and Live to Eat". At www.thechilidog.net he amassed over five hundred entries on various restaurant adventures and food discoveries here in the Bay Area and around the U.S. - in just the last three and a half years. He is widely known for his San Francisco Chinese food odyssey. Bill aspired to eat in every Chinese restaurant in The City; he did so. At last count, he had four hundred and twenty three Chinese restaurants under his belt.

Never a hipster, Bill had his upper body tattooed long before it became "hip". On his left wrist, he had inscribed in Chinese (which he learned so as to better communicate in restaurants), "Water seeks its own level". Like water, Bill has reached that final point of stasis. He leaves his wide circle of friends with countless memories and the inspiration of a life well lived.

If you wish to honor Bill's memory, make a donation to the Sierra Club or your favorite environmental group - cwh.

A Remembrance Celebration/Party will be held at Finnegans Wake/937 Cole St./San Francisco on September 28th from 2pm - 6pm.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle from Sep. 18 to Sep. 23, 2013.
Memories & Condolences
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15 entries
October 1, 2013
Chili, thanks for keeping us all a bit more "real" and for slipping the Keb Mo CD in the juke. You will be missed.
Jonah Michaelian
September 29, 2013
Finnegans will never be the same without you! Thanks for all the good times. Going to buy your fave austin tortilla chips this week and raise a glass to you over shrimp enchiladas at polovos. You will be missed. Xo
Suzie Prince
September 29, 2013
Chili Bill,

I was very lucky to have met you and you will be missed my friend. See you on the other side.

MIchael Prince
michael prince
September 28, 2013
Thanks for all the great dinner parties, the blues music, your sharp wit and that freezer full of habanero peppers. Hell in a Bottle for sure. RIP dear friend. I know you and Tim are playing some Little Walter tunes right about now. Love ya, Ruth
Ruth MacKay-Shea
September 28, 2013
Chili was a good man and a kind soul and will be sorely missed. RIP my friend. I drink a toast to you.
David Boals
September 28, 2013
A true bon vivant. Thanks for decades of friendship you crusty old curmudgeon. I hope a heavenly band of bluesmen and women were there rocking out at your welcome home banquet. Be seeing you on the rebound.
Keep on trucking.
Patrick Monk.RN.Noe Valley. SF.Ca.
Patrick Monk.RN.
September 27, 2013
I was lucky to know Chili and to accompany him on one of his dining trips for his blog. He regaled me with stories from his childhood and we ate some good food and had some laughs. He was a true character and I will miss him.
Walker Allen
September 25, 2013
If it weren't for you, I would never have organized the big trip to New Orleans, not known the word "prexactly", really understood the genius of Jim Thompson or Coleman Hawkins, the joy of and reasons for a Second Line, the art of telling a good story and wearing one and so much more. RIP my dear, old friend. You are forever loved, you will never be forgotten. Have a good time with Murph and Robyn...xo Alicia
September 25, 2013
Bill was great when he worked for Tom Ginela restaurant on Green Street,not Knapps Corner. Great sports Trivia. Mario was Maitre D. Spent many hours talking sports. Great Memories.

Tom Bianda
September 24, 2013
RIP Chili. Fond memories of you at Dicks Cafe.
Tim Hunt
September 23, 2013
R.I.P ole friend.I still can picture you when we were in high school.You were a cool cat til the end.
Jack E.
September 23, 2013
As the days and weeks pass, and as you return to life's routine, may you continue to feel comforted by the love and support of family and friends.
September 21, 2013
Chili loved this quote, "May you never lie, steal, cheat or drink. But if you must lie, lie in each other's arms. If you must steal, steal kisses. If you must cheat, cheat death. And if you must drink, drink with us, your friends." We will miss you Chili...say hello to Murph for us...Raz
Glenn raswyck
September 20, 2013
I'll have a shot of Bushmills for you...or maybe 2.
September 19, 2013
Bill, you were one of a kind and an inspiration. Rock on Brother
Jet Terror
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