Born: May 02, 1916
Died: July 25, 2014
William (Bill) Agler, age 98, died at his home on July 25. Bill was born May 2, 1916, in Concord CA, and raised in Oakland. But growing up, he loved spending summers helping on his grandparents’ ranch in San Martin. The grandparents had relocated to the South County after losing their millinery business in San Francisco during the 1906 earthquake and fire. After completing his study of animal husbandry at UC Davis in 1937 he worked for an eventful year raising exotic birds at William Randolph Hearst’s ranch at San Simeon. Leaving the ranch, he moved to his beloved San Martin where he operated a chicken ranch, farmed the land, and kept a prune orchard. When World War II came he was already in the National Guard and transferred to the Army Air Corps. While on the west coast he flew some as a combat observer, doing anti-submarine work, and aerial photography of gun installations. When overseas, he was in an amphibious assault outfit, establishing air-to-ground communications with planes coming off the carriers, directing planes on their strikes, and maintaining close contact with them until the air bases were secured. Upon returning from the Pacific theater he and his wife Mathilda (Tillie) Brodersen (having married in 1941) lived in Southern California for a short while but soon moved to Gilroy before permanently moving to San Martin. He and his business partner Roy Schell co-owned the San Martin Country Store for 32 years. They began as a very small business with no employees and personally made the hardware and building material deliveries once the doors closed for the day.
Bill was dedicated to making the lives of South County citizens better. He was one of the original trustees for the Morgan Hill Unified School District, on the Wheeler Hospital and later, South Valley Hospital boards of directors, and served on the budget oversight committees of both the Morgan Hill Rural Fire Department, and later the South Santa Clara County Fire Department. He served on the local Bank of America advisory board. In 1968 he was recognized by the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce as Citizen of the Year. The San Martin Neighborhood Alliance honored him in 2006 as Senior Man of the Year for his service to others. Bill guided the San Martin Lion’s Club through its infancy as their charter president. He belonged to the Gilroy Elks, Morgan Hill Grange, and was a member of the VFW Gilroy post. He was a charter member of the Morgan Hill Historical Society and had been an active member of the Santa Clara County Fair Association. This “country boy” was passionate about hunting, enjoying the camaraderie at the Castle Duck Club, hunting in a remote Alaskan location via float plane, and instructing Hunter Safety courses for local youngsters.
“In retirement I get up in the morning, do my things, and run out of time every day.” He was pursuing many additional interests including woodworking and bonsai. He crafted much of the furniture in his den and spent hours snipping, fastening, and grafting his prized bonsai trees.
Bill is survived by his son and favorite hunting partner Bill, daughter JoAnn, three grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. He is predeceased by his sister, Virginia Flackus, and brothers Harry and John Agler.
He once mused about his life, “I just like to keep busy.” An understatement.
His work was love made visible. We love you dearly.
A very private family service was held. One of his favorite charities was Ducks Unlimited, if you would like to make a donation in his name.