February 21, 2013 5:57 AM
A familiar name on the Central Coast, Bill Caldera passed away on February 16, 2013 at his home in Los Alamos, CA. Bill was a well-respected Businessman, Community Leader and a genuine early California style Cowboy. He shared his vast knowledge of cattle ranching, horsemanship, roping, hunting and fishing and became a "Bigger than life" mentor to many. Along with his lifestyle came many colorful stories that he also shared at many brandings, parties and meetings with his buddies.
As an only child, Bill was born in Hollister, CA to Bill and Rose "Buddy" Caldera on September 9, 1935. He was raised on various ranches in the San Benito County. He was active in 4-H raising and showing beef cattle at various local and state fairs. Bills other passion was showing Quarter horses. One of his proudest accomplishments was winning the Jr. Stock horse class at the Cow Palace in San Francisco as a teen.
After graduating from Hollister High School in 1953, Bill went to Battle Mountain, Nevada to work on the Marvel Ranches. He worked on the branding wagon and stayed out for months at a time always looking forward to hitting town when they returned. He returned to California to attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. To help pay his way through college, he lived in various barns and bunkhouses and took care of the horses on campus. Bill received his degree in Animal husbandry in 1956. Immediately after college, he entered the Army serving 18 months with the Combat Engineers in Germany. There he qualified for the European Rifle team and spent most of his stay collecting top awards in shooting matches.
Upon returning to Hollister in 1958, Bill met Mary Vierra and was married soon after. They had a son Kelly and 3 years later a daughter Susette. Bill continued his career in cattle which required the family to move many times. He worked at various feed lots in Hollister, Kerman, Chular, San Joaquin and Gonzales. One of the moves brought them to The Indians, a ranch in the Los Padres National Forest at Hunter Liggett Military Reservation near King City. The family lived in a historic Adobe with only a generator for power. Many high ranking military personnel became lifelong friends of the family from that move. In 1967 Bill moved the family to Santa Maria where he became cattle superintendent at Rancho Sisquoc. He kept that position for 7 years. In 1974, a move to Tepusquet Canyon started Bill in running his own cattle, cutting and selling firewood for many local restaurants and started Caldera Fence Company as well as Caldera Livestock Supplements which are still thriving today.
The next transition came in 1985 bringing Bill and family to Los Alamos where he eventually retired. Throughout his life, Bill Caldera has been an active member of the community. He served as co-chair for the Santa Barbara Fiesta Days and Fiesta Rodeo; was a member of the Santa Maria Elks Lodge No. 1538, Vaqueros de los Rancheros, Santa Barbara County Cattlemen's Association, Santa Barbara Range Improvement, San Benito County Saddle Horse Association, and the Los Alamos Valley Men's Club where he was named Grand Marshal for the 2012 Los Alamos Old Days Parade.
Bill is survived by his wife of 55 years, Mary; son and daughter-in-law Kelly and Londi Caldera of Los Alamos; daughter and son-in-law Susette and Al Bennett of Santa Maria; grandsons, Karsen Bennett and Wyatt Caldera; mother-in-law Mary Cesco of Hollister; sister-in-law Bernice Galdos of Hollister; as well as numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
A Rosary will be held Friday, February 22, at 7:00 pm at the Chapel of Dudley-Hoffman Mortuary. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Saturday, February 23 at St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Los Alamos at 11:00 am with burial to follow in the Los Alamos Cemetery with full Military Honors.
Friends if they so desire can make donations in Bill's name to any local Hospice organization, The American Cancer Society 426 Barcellus Ave. Suite 304, Santa Maria, CA 93454, or San Benito County Saddle Horse Association P.O.Box 56, Hollister, CA 95023.
Arrangements are under the direction of Dudley-Hoffman Mortuary, Crematory and Memory Gardens.