Waldo Carminati passed away Nov. 5, 2018, at the Twin Cities hospital in Templeton. He was born Waldo Secondo Carminati on Dec. 5, 1927, to Swiss Italian immigrant parents, Arnoldo and Josephina Carminati and was the fourth of five children.
Arnoldo had established a small dairy farm on North River Road in Paso Robles where Waldo spent his childhood. Growing up during the depression had a profound impression on his life. Waldo would often tell stories of his youth and how his brothers and sisters would all go to school barefoot because their family did not have enough money to buy shoes. They entered school not knowing how to speak English as his parents only spoke Swiss Italian at home.
When World War 2 came around, Waldo convinced his father to sign a letter allowing him to volunteer for the service. At the age of 17, he joined the US Navy. By the time Waldo had completed his training, the Japanese had surrendered and Waldo spent the next 18 months doing peacekeeping patrols on the Yangtze River in China. It was ironic that Waldo joined the Navy as he did not know how to swim and was very prone to seasickness. He often lamented that those were the two most miserable years of his life.
After coming home from China Waldo was asked to join a historic reenactment. The California Historical Society who organized over 70 riders to retrace the route that Portola had taken to establish the California Mission in 1769. The riders started in San Diego and traveled to San Francisco stopping each night at all 23 of California Missions.
While driving north one day Waldo met the light of his life and the Belle of Bradley, Betty June Cass. It wasn’t long until they were married and settled down to raise their two daughters, Nanci and Cindy. Waldo was employed as a milk inspector for a local creamery until the creamery shut down in 1966.
In 1966, Waldo applied for a position at the San Luis Obispo County fair as a maintenance worker. This is the same year the young fair manager, Maynard Potter, stepped out and brought in country western superstar Buck Owens to our little country fair. That show was the beginning of a long string of great entertainers such as Merle Haggard, Charlie Rich, Bob Hope, George Strait, Alan Jackson, Hank Williams Jr., and many more world-class entertainers that came to our town for the next 30 years. As facilities manager, Waldo, and his crew of young recruits planted flowers, set up chairs, cleaned up every night, set up for every horse show or livestock event at the fair. Many of the young men in the community still attest to the skills they learned at the fair under Waldo’s supervision. Ten minutes early was 5 minutes late for a man that expected an honest day’s work from all of his employees. He was known to be stern but always fair. In his spare time and after work he ran cows and calves in the Adelaide and Willow Creek areas.
It was in these roles that the public came to know this special man. He was always on time, would never call in sick and would stay until the job was done. His word was his bond. We will miss you, Waldo.
Waldo is survived by his daughters Nanci Bernard and Cindy (Karl) Wittstrom, five grandchildren: Randy Bernard, Tami Bernard Nicholas, Chad Carminati Wittstrom, Amanda Wittstrom Higgins and Heidi Wittstrom Sill; 11 great-grandchildren: Priscilla Bernard Vandenhoek, Alexandria Bernard Barnhardt, Heston Nicholas, Bronson Nicholas, Grace Anderson, Grace Wittstrom, Cody Sill, McCoy Sill, Cooper Carminati Higgins, Cecilia Higgins, and EdnaAnn Sill. He was preceded by his love, Betty Carminati.
In keeping with Waldo’s wishes, there will be no public service. He will be interned at San Miguel Cemetery next to his beloved Betty.