Obituary of William J. (Bill) Roach
January 5, 2018
William J. (Bill) Roach, inventor, entrepreneur, music aficionado and a most sought-after dance partner, died at home on Nov 4, 2017. He was 85. Born in the Midwest during the Depression, his parents divorced when he was very young and his single mom, Helen, raised him. The two of them made the journey to California to start a new life where he spent his childhood with an extended family of aunties, uncles, and cousins.
Bill got his degree at SF State on the GI bill after Korea. He met his wife, Janet, while they both were working as wait staff during the summer at Hoberg's Resort. Mom said she fell in love with him for his dancing and married him for his intelligence and desire to create an interesting life. He definitely had a mind of his own and was destined to be his own boss. There were some worrying moments for Jan in the late 60's when, with two small kids he quit his job at Lawrence Radiation Lab one day, deciding he wanted to do something different. The story is, as he studied the want ads in the newspaper at the kitchen table, a friend called him out of the blue, to ask him if he would be interested in coming to join the engineering team for a new company. He said yes, joined Oxford Laboratories in Foster City, and soon would become an expert in the field of precision measuring devices, as used in medical diagnostics. The company succeeded and grew, but when it was bought out in 1972, Bill was used to being his own manager and decided to move on. He had already become enamored with the lifestyle and possibilities of Nevada County and decided to relocate his family there. He may have had visions of retiring early, but it didn't take long before he got bored and needed a project. He built homes for a while but in 1975, spurred on by former colleagues, he launched Tri-Continent Scientific in Grass Valley, a precision manufacturing company eventually employing over 100 people.
As TCS grew, his responsibilities as owner and head engineer took him all over the world, to Britain, Europe, and Asia, with many clients becoming life long friends. Dedicated to his work, he once said he could not imagine living without it. In fact when Tri-Continent was sold in the mid 90's, once again Bill preferred to remain independent and started a new, smaller company next door.
When Janet passed unexpectedly in 2006, he continued working until he retired at 80.
Though his work may have been his passion, he definitely enjoyed the fun bits too. Sought after as a ballroom dancer, gracious in the role of host behind the bar or at the grill, playing golf or fishing with his buddies, a lifelong car fanatic, and captain at the helm for boat rides around the lake. Music was a big part of his life, and in younger days he always brought out the guitar at parties and even sang in a barbershop quartet. He was an enthusiastic fan of the local music scene, and loved dining al fresco on his deck, of course
with a nice glass of wine. A fixture for years at Friar Tucks with buddy Glen, and George on the guitar. He was a loyal friend and the one you would always call on in an emergency or crisis.
Though he was known for his creative brain and integrity in business, he will be remembered above all for his wry humor and charm. Who knows if his stubborn will made it easier or harder to navigate his last decade with Parkinson's, but even on the most trying days, his old school manners and his particular flair for witty
one-liners was ever present, usually eliciting a wince and a laugh (Oh Bill!).
So the next time you are enjoying some lovely wine, perhaps listening to some classical guitar music or watching the moonrise, raise a glass to Bill. Goodbye charming Billy.
You will be missed.
Life of William J. Roach Daughters Andrea and Gina, and his grandchildren Kenzie and Kayden Wasley, invite friends to a gathering celebrating Bill: Wednesday, Jan 17, 2018 at 1–3pm, at the Eskaton Recreation Room, 625 Eskaton Circle, Grass Valley
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