William A. Torrey died September 22, 2021, in Templeton, California, at the age of 74. He died peacefully after spending his last days surrounded by and visiting his children, grandchildren, and loved ones. 

William, known as Bill, was born in Jamestown, North Dakota, on November 27, 1946, to Clifford P. and Evelyn M. Torrey. Evelyn and her family were devout Catholics, and several of her siblings were nuns and priests, so Catholicism had a big influence on Bill’s early life. His Dad, Cliff was extremely passionate about cars, was in the auto parts business, and collected and worked on cars all his life, which ultimately became one of Bill’s main passions as well.

Being primarily raised in rural farm country, Bill spent his childhood days fishing, hunting, swimming, playing pranks, and in general being a wild, daredevil country kid. When his family moved to La Mesa, California, in 1959, Bill was 13, and he experienced culture shock and had to figure out how to adapt to coastal city life. He would do well with this change and lived on or near the California coast for the rest of his life. He graduated from Helix High School and attended Grossmont Junior College before moving to the central coast with his growing family in 1970 to study at California Polytechnic State University.

While attending Cal Poly, he wore many hats; a draftsman, a painter, a builder, and a cook. After challenging the California state boards, he became a licensed architect in 1988 and practiced his trade in San Luis Obispo County for 30 years as William A. Torrey, Architect. He took great pride in his work and craft; he was well known and respected by his peers in the construction industry and was acknowledged more than once with awards. 

Bill was also a gifted, self-taught musician and vocalist, playing acoustic and electric guitar and singing a broad repertoire of folk, country, and country-rock songs. He had a particular fondness for the work of Bob Dylan and played and sang most of his body of work. He also loved the music of John Prine, The Band, Hank Williams Sr, Johnny Cash, The Amazing Rhythm Aces, The Eagles, and so much more. He loved guitars and had a large collection, both acoustic and electric. 

He enjoyed woodworking and once crafted a beautiful handmade guitar as well as several guitar cases. He loved to work with his hands and often made gifts for family members. He also had a passion for restoring cars, and over the years, he owned several vintage models, including his father’s cherished 1936 Ford Coupe.

If you had the chance to ask him, he’d say his greatest accomplishment was fathering his eight children. When they were small, he would play his guitar in the evenings and make up silly songs about them. He often sang to them his own beautiful version of Puff the Magic Dragon. He helped coach baseball, acted as a dirt bike mechanic for his racing sons, shared his love of fishing, taught the drafting trade, did crafting and woodworking projects, made pies, BBQ’d, and prepared glorious Thanksgiving meals as well as sharing with his children the Germanic North Dakota family tradition of making Cheese Buttons. He imparted to all of his kids a great and enduring love of music. He took particular pride and joy in watching his children succeed in life and in their growing families. He had a unique relationship with each child, and his loss is keenly felt by all.

He is preceded in death by his mother, Evelyn M. Torrey, his father Clifford P. Torrey, his brother Clifford P. Torrey Jr., and his wife and high school sweetheart Elizabeth A. Torrey.

He is survived by his two former wives and the mothers of his children; Sue Torrey and Marylee Marks Torrey, with whom he maintained friendships; his children, Mark Love, Devon Torrey-Love, Dylan Torrey, Seth Torrey, Sara Yost, Harvest Torrey, Matthew Torrey, and Nathan Torrey; daughters-in-law Katherine Love, Tami Poe-Torrey, Allyssa Jensen and Vanessa Torrey; sons-in-law Kelly Love and James Yost, and his 15 grandchildren; Rowan, Jasper, Luke, Paxton, Allison, Bailey, Roy, Andy, Bella, Alexander, Andrew, Fletcher, Magnolia, Solomon and Aspen, and seven great-grandchildren; Aurora, Aili, Carter, Wolfe, Aubrey, Azalea, and Ren. He is also survived by his sisters; Mary Kay Flowers, Barbara Quiggle, Paula Cyman, and Michele Torrey; brothers-in-law William Flowers, John Quiggle, Robert Cyman, Christopher Hyink, and sister-in-law Antonia Torrey.

Bill made an indelible mark on his community and the hearts of his large, loving family. He is loved now and forever. He will be dearly missed and remembered well.

A Celebration of Life event will be held on Saturday, October 16, at 1 p.m. at Hardie Park in Cayucos, California. Following this, the family will have a private celebration of his life.

May your hands always be busy

May your feet always be swift

May you have a strong foundation

When the winds of changes shift

May your heart always be joyful

May your song always be sung

And may you stay

Forever young. 

-Bob Dylan