William A. Torrey died on September 22, 2021 in Templeton, California, at the age of 74. He passed away peacefully after spending his last days surrounded by and visiting his children, grandchildren and loved ones.
William, known as Bill, was born in Jamestown, North Dakota on November 27, 1946 to Clifford P. and Evelyn M. Torrey. Evelyn and her family were devout Catholics, and several of her siblings were nuns and priests. Catholicism therefore had a great influence on Bill’s youth. His father, Cliff, was extremely passionate about cars, worked in the auto parts business, and collected and worked on cars all his life, which eventually became one of Bill’s main passions.
Being primarily raised in a rural farming country, Bill spent his childhood fishing, hunting, swimming, playing pranks, and in general being a wild, daredevil kid of the country. When his family moved to La Mesa, Calif. In 1959, Bill was 13, and he suffered culture shock and had to figure out how to adjust to coastal city life. He would do well with this change and live on or near the California coast for the rest of his life. He graduated from Helix High School and attended Grossmont Junior College before moving to the Central Coast with his growing family in 1970 to study at California Polytechnic State University.
While hanging out with Cal Poly, he wore many hats; a designer, a painter, a builder and a cook. After challenging California state boards, he became a chartered architect in 1988 and practiced in San Luis Obispo County for 30 years as architect William A. Torrey. He was very proud of his work and his art; he was well known and respected by his peers in the construction industry and has won awards more than once.
Bill was also a gifted self-taught musician and singer, playing acoustic and electric guitar and singing a wide repertoire of folk, country and country-rock songs. He had a special affection for the work of Bob Dylan and performed and sang most of his work. He also loved the music of John Prine, The Band, Hank Williams Sr, Johnny Cash, The Amazing Rhythm Aces, The Eagles and more. He loved guitars and owned a large collection, both acoustic and electric.
He loved woodworking and has already made a beautiful handmade guitar as well as several guitar cases. He enjoyed working with his hands and often gave gifts to family members. He also had a passion for car restoration, and over the years he owned several vintage models, including his father’s beloved 1936 Ford Coupe.
If you had the chance to ask him, he would say his greatest achievement was having fathered his eight children. When they were little he would play the guitar at night and make up silly songs about them. He often sang to them his own beautiful version of Puff the Magic Dragon. He helped coach baseball, acted as an off-road motorcycle mechanic for his racing sons, shared his love of fishing, taught draftsman, did crafts and carpentry projects, bakes pies, barbecues and cooks glorious Thanksgiving meals as well as sharing with her children the Germanic North Dakota family tradition of making cheese buttons. He transmitted to all his children a great and lasting love of music. He was especially proud and happy to see his children succeed in life and in their growing family. He had a unique relationship with each child, and his loss is deeply felt by all.
He is predeceased by his mother, Evelyn M. Torrey, his father Clifford P. Torrey, his brother Clifford P. Torrey Jr., and his wife and high school friend Elizabeth A. Torrey.
He is survived by his two former wives and the mothers of his children; Sue Torrey and Marylee Marks Torrey, with whom he maintains friendships; her children, Mark Love, Devon Torrey-Love, Dylan Torrey, Seth Torrey, Sara Yost, Harvest Torrey, Matthew Torrey and Nathan Torrey; daughters-in-law Katherine Love, Tami Poe-Torrey, Allyssa Jensen and Vanessa Torrey; sons-in-law Kelly Love and James Yost, and her 15 grandchildren; Rowan, Jasper, Luke, Paxton, Allison, Bailey, Roy, Andy, Bella, Alexander, Andrew, Fletcher, Magnolia, Solomon and Aspen, and seven great-grandchildren; Aurora, Aili, Carter, Wolfe, Aubrey, Azalea and Ren. He is also survived by his sisters; Mary Kay Flowers, Barbara Quiggle, Paula Cyman and Michele Torrey; brothers-in-law William Flowers, John Quiggle, Robert Cyman, Christopher Hyink and sister-in-law Antonia Torrey.
Bill has left an indelible mark on his community and on the hearts of his large and loving family. He is loved now and forever. He will be sadly missed and well remembered.
A Celebration of Life will take place on Saturday, October 16 at 1 p.m. at Hardie Park in Cayucos, California. Following this, the family will have a private celebration of their life.
May your hands be always busy
May your feet always be fast
May you have a solid foundation
When the winds of change turn
May your heart be always happy
May your song always be sung
And may you stay