Sept. 26, 1928 — April 27, 2018
After an extensive battle with heart failure, William Robert Sari ended his journey from this life April 27, 2018. Bill’s determined and steadfast nature to deal with his illness was just another example of his strength and devotion to his family. His guidance and love for his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be forever missed.
Bill was born in Weed, Calif., on Sept. 26, 1928. Bill and his family moved to Klamath Falls, Ore., where he graduated from Klamath Union High School in 1946. Bill was an exceptional athlete, lettering in football, baseball, basketball, and track. During his senior year, Bill placed at State for shot put and earned a scholarship to play football at Oregon State.
Bill’s parents, Otto and Matilda Sari, were the owners of Sari’s Restaurant in Klamath Falls, where Bill grew up working in the family business. Bill’s parents, immigrants from Italy, were selfless and generous, and he often said that his parents were the best teachers. It was during dinner one evening in the restaurant that Otto Sari invited a young lady named Norma Howell to go to church with his son the next morning. A few years later, Norma and Bill were married at Sacred Heart Church on Feb. 19, 1949. While building his career and raising his young boys with Norma, Bill continued to support his parents in his late evening and weekend hours, and most especially during the terminal illness of his father.
Bill, Norma and their family, relocated a couple of times before moving to Longview to purchase Mason Ford in 1964. In 1972, Columbia Ford had its grand opening. Bill‘s sons, Patrick, Philip, Steven and son-in-law Peter, all had the opportunity to work alongside their father. Having never given up his office, Bill enjoyed occasional visits to the dealership even in recent years. Sharing in the new developments and activities of the organization always gave Bill great joy and pride.
The wilderness was always second nature to Bill, and he relished the beauty and adventures provided by the numerous rivers, lakes and mountains that he hunted and fished with his family and friends. As a teenager, Bill spent summers working for the U.S. Forest Service to fight fires in Crater Lake and Eastern Oregon — places that always held a special place in his heart.
Hunting trips in Eastern Oregon began as a young man with his own father and continued for over 60 years with Bill’s sons, family and close friends. Bill’s passion for the outdoors was a gift he instilled in all of his children.
Spanning his career, Bill was involved in many professional and charitable organizations. Bill served as president of the Washington State Auto Dealers Association and served on the board for many years. One of his great honors was to be named the 1993 Time Magazine Dealer of the Year for the State of Washington. Bill also served as president of the St. John Foundation Board, finding great joy in the developments of the medical center. Bill led the building of the St. Rose Parish Center and was instrumental in the growth and development of St. Vincent de Paul. He was also a member of the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus and in earlier years, was a founding member of the Longview Early Edition Rotary and past president of the Longview Sandbaggers. Bill’s faith was rooted in the communities he served and his vision for serving the needs of others was endless.
Bill loved to vacation in Central Oregon and at Hood Canal where fishing was always a priority. Snow skiing, water skiing, boating and generally being anywhere outdoors with family brought him great joy. But of all his favorite places, Bill believed the best thing he ever did was purchase their last family home, because it was “where everything happened.” For over 45 years, children, grandchildren, extended family and friends have gathered there to celebrate everything from engagements to anniversaries, but mostly just to celebrate life. The Sari family home was truly the “hub of love” where a lifetime of cherished memories were made.
In the last couple of years, Bill especially enjoyed tending his grapes, feeding the many birds and squirrels that frequented his backyard, and the occasional grocery trip to stock up on tomatoes and the best fruits of the season. Bill said ‘thank you’ numerous times daily, as he was so grateful for the compassionate love and care he received. In both word and action, he reminded us all to take good care of each other and to keep God close to our hearts.
William was preceded in death by his sister, Renata in 2013; and two sons, David in April 1974 and Steven in April 2016. Bill leaves behind his wife and soulmate of 69 years, Norma; two sons, William Patrick (Sue), and Philip (Connie); a daughter, Aunamarie (Peter ); 12 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.
Bill’s favorite charities were St. Vincent de Paul, St. John Foundation, St. Rose School and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. A funeral Mass celebrating Bill’s life will take place at 4 p.m. May 24 at St. Rose Church in Longview. A reception will immediately follow in the Parish Center. A private graveside service will take place at Longview Memorial Park.