A small group of friends and family celebrated the life of Bill Herlihy on Monday in Orinda. He died on July 23 at the age of 90.
This week, hundreds of children, adult players and families will utilize his legacy—the Pleasanton Sports Park. Bill served two terms on the city Parks and Recreation Commission and then was twice elected to the Pleasanton City Council in the 1960s and 1970s.
During that time, he spearheaded the effort to convince the federal government to give the city the surplus 102 acres on Hopyard Road. The efforts were successful and the valley’s first large sports park was born. The city developed the big parcel in phases over a number of years and it became the model for other communities as soccer, in particular, exploded in popularity.
Bill’s nearly 16 years of public service in Pleasanton were part a life spent in the public sector. He joined what is now Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 1955 and worked there for 26 years until retiring in December of 1981.
He and his wife of 58 years, Kathryn, lived in Pleasanton for 47 years, raising their three children there. The kids attended Pleasanton schools and graduated from Amador Valley High, bracketing me—Nelson was two classes ahead of me while daughters Allison and Stephanie were younger.
I knew Bill and Kathryn as long-time members of Centerpointe Church, which worshipped for decades at what is now the Lighthouse Baptist Church at Neal and 2nd Street before moving to the campus on Mirador Drive and finally to the current location at Busch Road off of Valley Avenue. Bill served as an elder in the Presbyterian Church.
One of the true blessings of being part of that church family for decades is seeing the lifetime marriages modeled so well by many of our long-time members such as the Herlihy’s.
This month my wife, Betty Gail, and I will celebrate our 39th anniversary and we’re youngsters when we think of the many older couples who have been together for more than 50 years.