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William D. Sauers

June 18, 1926 - November 16, 2011

Bill Sauers, attorney, author, board member, horseman, theater lover, friend, family man, and catalyst passed away in his home in Ashland, Ore., on November 16, 2011.

Bill imagined Big. He made things happen.

Bill was born Dale Gilbert Sauers in Santa Cruz, Calif., to Myrl Melvin Sauers and Helen Fightmaster. He became self-sufficient at an early age after his mother's death when he was nine, and abandonment by his father at age fourteen. He worked as a ranch hand in Aptos, Calif. He went to Holy Cross High School in Santa Cruz, Calif., and graduated early and joined the U.S. Army Air Corps two months after turning age 17. He entered basic training in Wichita Falls, Texas, in August 1943. He was promoted to second lieutenant at age 18 in November 1944 and was honorably discharged as second lieutenant, navigator of a B-24 Liberator in October 1945.

Bill married in May 1945 and then returned with his new bride to Fresno, Calif., where he attended Fresno State College and worked for one of the major construction firms, Taylor and Wheeler, building new housing following the War. In 1949, he entered Stanford University Law School, graduating in 1952. The San Francisco Peninsula would become his home until moving to Ashland, Ore., in 2001.

Bill's law career began with a position as an assistant secretary of the State Bar in San Francisco. He joined the District Attorney's office in San Jose in 1955 working as a trial attorney. In 1957, he started a private practice in Palo Alto, Calif. Starting in 1962, Bill found his legal passion as a corporate attorney when he joined the firm Howe, Finch and Glass, which later became Finch, Sauers, Player and Montgomery. He worked for 24 years with the firm representing many major corporations and institutions such as Hewlett-Packard Company, Watkins-Johnson Company, Granger Associates, Varian Associates, Menlo School and College, Micro Electronics and many others. Bill also taught law at Santa Clara University and Stanford University Law schools.

From the late 1980s through 2000, Bill worked with several law firms in the South Bay Area, bringing his corporate skills to start-up companies. He was appointed of-council by Mount and Stoelker (now Mount, Spelman and Fingerman) in December 2000 and moved to Ashland, Ore.

Bill's association with Ashland began in 1973 when he and wife, Barbara, first visited the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Avid theater goers, they spent weeks in Ashland seeing each season's plays multiple times. Bill served on the O.S.F. board of directors, (1989-1995). Eventually purchasing a house in Ashland, for eight years they offered it to the Festival for actor housing. After moving to Ashland in 2001, Bill was a catalyst in the creation of Oregon Stage Works. He also served on the Ashland Community Hospital Foundation Board. He kept an office at the Armory until 2009.

Bill loved to write. He was a regular contributor to the Rancheros Visitadores daily trek and annual newsletter, with his column, "Sauers' Grapes." He authored plays, four of which were produced or read. The San Francisco Shakespeare Festival produced, "Did Not I Dance with You?", in 1994 and "A Fork in the Road", in 1995. Play readings of "Lynch Mob Hunt", in 2006 followed by "Reluctant Strangers", were produced by Oregon Stage works.

Bill was an ace at dominoes. He played doubles tennis, was a skier, fly fisherman and horseman. He was member of the San Mateo County Mounted Patrol, serving a term as president of the organization. He owned and rode horses. He was also a decades-long member of the Rancheros Visitadores, Los Picadores camp. He remained friends with his riding buddies participating in an annual event in Visalia, Calif., in March, 2011.

Bill served on a number of boards including, secretary of the Urban Coalition of Palo Alto, from 1969-72; chairman, American Red Cross, Palo Alto, Calif. chapter, from 1973-76; Family Service Association, from 1973-76; Senior Council Affiliates, Palo Alto, from 1981-85; chairman, Board of Trustees, Menlo College, Atherton, Calif., from 1984-88; director, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, Ore., from 1989-95; President, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, San Jose Repertory Theatre, San Jose, Calif., from 1994-98; Oregon Stage Works and Ashland Community Hospital Foundation Board.

Bill was social and outgoing. He was loyal and trusting and optimistic. He made friends and kept them for a lifetime. He would often refer to people as my good friend and mean it.

Bill is preceded in death by his wife, of 65 years, Barbara Gean Cole, of Fresno, Calif., Sauers, in July 2010; his parents, Helen in 1936 and Myrl in 1973; his brother, Myrl Melvin Sauers, Jr., Pfc USMC, who was killed in the battle at Tarawa on November 20, 1943.

Bill is survived by daughters, Kathleen Helen Sauers McCarty, Susan Patricia Sauers Reeves, Deborah Lane Sauers Nelson; son-in-law, Peter Carl Nelson; and grandchildren, Andrea Elizabeth Nelson and Emmett Samuel Nelson.

Memorial contributions may be made to the organizations on whose boards Bill served with passion.