Obituary for William Colgan
September 16, 1928 – August 8, 2020
William George Colgan, Jr, age 91, of Alameda California, died on August 8, 2020 in Alameda, CA. He was born on September 16, 1928 in Grafton Nebraska, son of the late William George Colgan and Marie Weinerth Colgan.
Bill spent the first ten-plus years of his life growing up in a two bedroom farmhouse near Greeley, Nebraska. In 1939, his parents sold their farm equipment and moved – first to Salt Lake City for 18 months, and then to the Bay Area. Bill had a newspaper stand in Oakland to make some extra money. He graduated from St. Joseph’s High School in 1945 and Undertaker School in 1947, but decided he didn’t like that line of work. He spent time in Alaska before returning to the Bay Area and college. He majored in Geology and took classes at San Jose State, UC Berkeley, and UCLA. He enjoyed playing baseball, golf, and dining out with friends during this period. Just short of his degree, he was drafted into the Air Force for the Korean War. He trained as a pilot while spending time at bases in California, Texas, and Florida before being discharged in 1955.
Feeling “done with school,” he found work in the Bay Area construction industry as a hod carrier. He met Helen Evans on Columbus Day 1955 at a wedding where they were both guests. They were married on September 15, 1956. They had two sons. In 1960, the family began spending the summer and fall of each year at Lake Tahoe, since work for brick layers was more plentiful there. By 1970, Bill had his own masonry contractor business, and the family moved to Tahoe full time. Over the years, he and his crew built many foundations for homes and townhouses, as well as a few masonry commercial buildings. His two sons joined him as laborers for some of their high school and college summers. This taught them to work hard and the value of an education; they both went on to earn PhDs. Sundays were a family treat – Mass, Bill cooking breakfast, followed by reading the Sunday paper and perhaps spending the afternoon watching sports.
Beginning in the late sixties, the family went on annual spring driving trips – with Bill doubling as driver and cinematographer. He later accompanied Helen on trips to Iceland, Hawaii, India, Ireland, China, Baja California, cruising the Straits of Magellan, Greece, following Marco Polo’s travels along the Route of the Caravans, and lengthy winter visits to Lake Havasu.
He finally left the Tahoe basin only when the altitude began to effect his health – moving down to Elder’s Inn in Alameda early in 2016.
Bill is survived by his sister Lavina Mody of Geneva, Nebraska and Mumbai, India; two sons – Sean Colgan (Louise) of Newark, California, and Evan Colgan of Montvale, New Jersey and his three children William, Annie, and Laura Colgan. Bill was preceded in death by his wife, Helen Hope Colgan.
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