William "Bill" Joseph Commerford

May 20, 1922 - May 31, 2016
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“Bill” Commerford, long time El Cerrito resident, current member of Berkeley Breakfast Club and Berkeley Rotary, has died. Dad was a good friend – the kind who visited you in the hospital and kept returning. He loved being a husband, dad and grandfather. He and our mom, Betty, had almost 63 years together (1947-2009).

A self-employed insurance broker, Dad prided himself on giving the best service. A UC Berkeley graduate (the first in his family to attend college), a WWII navy veteran, and a 32nd degree Mason, Dad enjoyed ice skating, ballroom dancing with Mom, and getting his pilot’s license. For the past three years Dad was well cared for by staff at the Mercy Care Center, Oakland.

Bill was preceded in death by Betty (nee Brown), our brother, Roger, and sister, Joan Ridout. Immediate surviving family includes Marilyn (James) Wilts, Nancy (Stephen) Dolan, David (Virginia Northrop) Commerford, and Chieko Morikawa, Roger’s wife. Grandchildren are Jennifer Commerford, Caitlin and Kevin Dolan, and Cailey and Kelsey Commerford.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, June 25, 2:00 pm in the large chapel at Sunset View Mortuary, El Cerrito (top of Fairmount). Seating starts at 1:30 pm.

Donations are welcome in Bill Commerford’s name to: Mercy (short for Mercy Retirement and Care Center) with Staff Appreciation Fund in the memo line.
Send ATTN: Development Office, 3431 Foothill Blvd., Oakland, Ca 94601

The following is from the obituary Dad wrote about himself, aware that only he knew details that were important to him and to his family. We are posting it here now for anyone interested in knowing more about him.

William Joseph Commerford was born in Toledo, Ohio on May 20, 1922 to William Joseph Commerford, Sr. and Nina Mae Johnson.

When he was three years old, his parents divorced and he, his sister and mother moved to Pasadena, California to live with his maternal grandfather, Josiah Johnson. He belonged to Boy Scout Troop 9 of the Pasadena Presbyterian Church. He graduated from Pasadena Junior College where he was a member of the California Scholarship Federation, and entered the University of California at Berkeley as a junior in June of 1942.

In the fall of 1942, Bill requested a military leave of absence from the University and volunteered for the US Navy. He was stationed in Boston, MA for four months of training. While there, he met Betty Laverne Brown, a Boston University graduate and the daughter of a Congregational minister. While Bill spent two years abroad a Navy ship in the South Pacific combat area, he and Betty corresponded. After his discharge from the Navy, he returned to UC Berkeley, in June 1946 and completed all of his Junior and Senior years in twelve months. In February of 1947, he and Betty were married in the First Congregational Church of Berkeley. After graduation Bill sought a career where he could be self-employed and entered the insurance business. He owned his own brokerage firm in Berkeley, handling all forms of insurance.

Bill was an ice skater and ice dancer for many years and a member of the US Figure Skating Association. He obtained his Private Pilot’s License at sixty-four and flew for fifteen years. He and Betty took weekly ballroom dancing lessons for many years and danced at the Hillside Club of Berkeley, as well as the Home Club of Piedmont where Betty served as President. For many years at University of California’s track and gym, Bill ran or walked three miles a day and worked out in the gym. He was a clarinet player during high school and retirement.

Bill was past President of the Alden Club of the First Congregational Church of Berkeley, the Oakland Insurance Forum, the Golden Gate Chapter of Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriters, the Berkeley-Sakai Japan Sister City Association, the Berkeley Community Concert Assn., and District Chairman of the Boy Scouts of America for Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito and Richmond. He was also a 32nd Degree Mason.

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Service Schedule

Cemetery Information

Date: Thursday, January 1, 1970

Sunset View Cemetery Association


101 Colusa Avenue, El Cerrito, CA, 94530

Memorial Information

Date: Saturday, June 25, 2016

Time: 2:00 pm

Sunset View Mortuary


101 Colusa Ave, El Cerrito, CA, 94530

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Timeline for William Commerford

Born: May 20, 1922
Died: May 31, 2016

Condolences for William Commerford

Sunset View Mortuary

Our sincere condolences.

The staff of Sunset View Mortuary.


Behzad Khosrovi posted on 6/12/16

Arriving in Kent Court in1983 just across the street from Bill and Betty, with two young children and a third on the way, we were made to feel very welcome by the Commerfords. Over the years we developed a high regard for both Bill and Betty. We were so lucky to have our children grow up in a pleasant neighborhood with such wonderful neighbors just across the street. After Betty passed away Bez visited Bill often. Bill was a great conversationalist and a delight to chat with. It was good see Bill take comfort from the company of his energetic little dog Coco. After his accident and move to the Mercy retirement center in Oakland Bez was able to visit him from time to time and to see first hand that he was happy there and well cared for. Bill was indeed fortunate to have caring family nearby to keep him company and to ensure that all his needs were met. Since we now live in Manhattan and unable to attend the memorial service we send our condolences and best wishes to Bill’s family. Bez and Dorothy Khosrovi Zahra, Shari and Daniel