Longtime Napa County rancher William James (Bill) Imboden passed away peacefully in Fairfield, Calif., on Dec. 26, 2013.
He was born in Napa in 1917 and shortly thereafter the family moved to Vallejo, where he attended local schools. Leaving college after two years to help support the family, he was employed at Mare Island Naval Shipyard as a laborer in the electrical shop. Over the next 31 years, he earned an electrical engineer’s license by experience and examination. He retired as director of design of electrical, electronics and weapons systems for new ship construction in the consolidated Mare Island/Hunters Point Shipyard.
Among other accomplishments, he earned a commendation from the Navy Department for conceiving of a plan to bring nuclear power to the first nuclear submarine built at Mare Island. He was sent to Japan to assist their defense force in designing and building their first post-war submarine, the “Oyashio,” launched in 1959. During his career, he served as president of the National Association of Naval Technical Supervisors. He retired in 1969 and went on to do consulting work for Westinghouse for several years.
In 1942, Bill returned to Napa County where he and his wife, Adelaide (Grossherr), owned and operated a cattle ranch in Gordon Valley. The ranch has been a gathering place for five generations of family and many friends. Holidays, roundups and weekends during deer season saw large gatherings. In later years there were many family RV outings and there was always some kind of boat around, a vestige of time spent in the Solano County marshes with his uncles. Family and friends came first, and he was always willing to drop what he was doing to help anyone in need. Civic activity saw him on the Napa County Grand Jury and the former Gordon Valley School Board. He was also a charter member of the Gordon Valley Volunteer Fire Department, a member of the Williamson Act Committee and several other county committees through the years.
He was predeceased by his wife, and by daughter-in-law Charlotte Imboden; and is survived by son William Imboden of Gordon Valley; daughter and son-in-law Toni and Gar Harry of Napa; daughter, Susan Imboden of Fairfield Calif.; seven grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandchild. At his request there will be no service. There will be a private family celebration of his life.