Obituary Listings

William Anthony Senna

December 27, 1936 October 1, 2018
William Anthony Senna
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Obituary for William Anthony Senna

WILLIAM ANTHONY SENNA (December 27, 1936 – October 1, 2018)

“Billy” to his family when he was a little boy in El Portal/Hanford. “Bill” to all whose lives he had touched throughout his tour of duty, not just with the armed forces, but with public and community service.
Childhood in Yosemite was memorable - long bus rides to and from school in Mariposa, treks with friends and fly-fishing with his dad (who worked for the National Park) along Merced River, periodic forays into abandoned Indian settlements, watching the Fire Fall from Glacier Point, and the occasional thrill of running from irate mama bears and rattle snakes. On top of all these were the death-defying "hide-and-seek" games he played at night with other boys - not on foot, but in their cars! Bill boasted he used to know every nook and cranny of his birthplace and no one could beat him then. His most unforgettable experience was getting saved from drowning in the river by a young Indian boy his age, who became his friend for life.
As a gangling teenager, Bill weaned himself from the cozy comfort of home to join the US Air Force. After basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, he served as an electronic technician with the 93rd Bomb Wing which was based at Castle AFB in Merced, California, where they pioneered the B-52. All this time, he was already responsible for a family of four; he had married Sherwin Lee Reynolds at the age of nineteen and had a daughter, Deborah and a son, Kenneth.
Following a series of promotions, Bill landed a trainer's post, where he instructed technicians on the maintenance procedures for the C-130 aircraft. This skill earned him a special assignment in Turkey, where as a sergeant, he taught Turkish Air Force personnel how to use and maintain the C-130. "It was a good assignment," he used to recall, "they treated us well, but all that mutton - there was so much I couldn't get used to it. I still haven't, after all these years."
After a long stint of 20 years in the military, which brought him to several places (Hawaii being his favorite) he decided it was time for a career change. He retired as a Master Sergeant from the service, moved to the Central Coast and joined the US Post Office as a clerk. From there, he diligently moved up the ranks and eventually, was appointed Postmaster for Oceano. It was here where his horizon broadened - from that of a regular family man and government employee to that of a dedicated public servant. His initiation into community service was when he ran for and won a position on the Oceano Community Services District Board of Directors. The OCSD is responsible for services in unincorporated areas like fire protection, water, lighting, parks and recreation and sewer. He served three terms and became board president.
Finding his niche at the OCSD, Bill decided to leave the Post Office and was eventually named OCSD General Manager. Of this he says, "Being General Manager was a great job; I learned the importance of fiscal responsibility. The district had a "pay-as-you-go" policy. It kept our indebtedness to a minimum and with cash reserves we were able to find some good buys on fire engines and other essential equipment."
The elected position brought other related responsibilities. He was past president of the Oceano Improvement Association (OIA), a group that functioned much like a chamber of commerce. He was proudest of the fact that on his watch, OIA was a major force in the development of the Central Coast Senior Center. Bill was also especially proud of his stint at the Oceano Depot Association, together with the late Harold Guiton. Other past civic involvements include The Five Cities Men's Club, the Rotary, the Masonic and Elks Lodges and the Shriners. Up until his death, he was active with the Five-Cities Optimist Club where he spearheaded international projects that sent donated books and clothes to indigent school children, and funded feeding programs for malnourished kids of all ages in the Philippines. He would always say, “I just want to leave this world a little better than when I first came into it…”
Bill's progression from one career to another helped widen his perspective and his area of concern and deepened his commitment. Through the years, with all the trials he had undergone and the important decisions he had to make, he transitioned from a shy boy to a confident, well-rounded personality who could speak effectively to a single toddler or to a crowd of hundreds - an honest man who thought, spoke and lived service and had others' welfare first on his list.
In 1994, he learned that the Lucia Mar Unified School District was planning to enact an ordinance that would hit citizens with a special assessment without allowing for a public vote. He opposed that idea of "taxation without representation" and formed an opposition group, whose numbers grew rapidly, which prompted the Lucia Mar Board to reverse its decision to avert public anger. This incident inspired Bill to run for one of the trustee positions on the board of education. He won and served for better than seven years and retired as president of the board.
Bill is no stranger to misery and loss. Heaviest on his heart was the death of his son, Ken, at 32. Looking back, he said it triggered more than a midlife crisis, but it taught him that life had to go on and that we can prop one another up in crisis. In tragedy, the Master Jeweler created yet another facet in this rock of a personality, in the form of a third career, another mission - he bounced back one year from the tragedy, determined to be that crutch to people in their times of grief. He opened an insurance office in Arroyo Grande, focusing on the insurance needs of senior citizens, as he himself was one. He represented a long roster of carriers for health plans, Medicare Supplements, annuities, auto and homeowner policies. It was the most gratifying and the best job ever for this "people person" who has mastered the noble deeds of caring and giving. As he put it, "When someone buys a policy from me, he buys into my heart, too, and is assured of the best service I can render. Our customers are the most important people in this office, we work to serve their needs at all times."
Bill was again dealt with two major blows - losing his daughter, Debbie in 2009 (from whom he had a grandson Nick Cronin) and his wife (Sherwin in 2010). This made him more passionate in assisting families cope with terminal illness and death through his involvement with Lady Family Mortuary. "Thoughtful, thorough, and helpful" is how friends describe him in this field. Having fully recovered from the said losses, he married and is survived by Geraldine Ruiz Senna, or Gigi to family and friends, with whom he did all his insurance work and community service.
Truly, like a coveted precious stone, Bill Senna, shone out. He was cut to deal with a wide spectrum of clientele due to his long experience with different types of individuals, establishments, and situations, as well as his wide range of products and services. He had clarity of purpose: to help senior citizens like him and their families live worry-free and secure in the fact that they could come to him for assistance anytime. His was the color of sincerity and the purest of intentions, oftentimes sacrificing personal gain to answer his clients' needs; he never hesitated to go the extra mile, or miles for that matter. From any angle, he reflected honest and dedicated service where the client came first and where they got to grow with him. He radiated the love of life and the love for humanity. Forever, this legacy shall live.


Upcoming Events

Visitation

Friday

2

Nov

2:00 PM 11/2/2018 2:00:00 PM - 7:00 PM 11/2/2018 7:00:00 PM
Lady Family Mortuary

555 Fair Oaks Ave
Arroyo Grande, CA 93420

Reception to follow at the Filipino Community Center

Lady Family Mortuary
555 Fair Oaks Ave Arroyo Grande 93420 CA
United States

Service

Saturday

3

Nov

10:00 AM 11/3/2018 10:00:00 AM
Nipomo Community Presbyterian Church

1235 N Thompson Ave
ARROYO GRANDE, CA 93420

Nipomo Community Presbyterian Church
1235 N Thompson Ave ARROYO GRANDE 93420 CA
United States

Cemetery Details

Location

ARROYO GRANDE DISTRICT CEMETERY Final Resting Place

895 EL CAMINO REAL
ARROYO GRANDE, CA 93420

895 EL CAMINO REAL ARROYO GRANDE 93420 CA
United States
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