William Gardner Church


William Gardner Church passed away on May 8 at home with his beloved family gathered together. We know that we will all be together again and this is only a temporary separation. Bill’s passing is just goodbye for now.

Bill was born and raised in Santa Ana by Clarence and Persus Church along with his brother, Robert, and sister, Mary. Bill’s parents raised him to be a man of integrity, character and honor.

Bill attended UCLA and Fresno State, graduating with a degree in civil engineering. He met and married Mary in California. They were loyal, loving companions for 56 years. Together they raised two sons, of whom they are very proud, and spent the past 16 years on their ranch in Pagosa Springs watching their grandchildren, Michelle and Brandon, grow up. Bill lived to the fullest and loved the life he had built for his family.

In 1964, Bill opened Church Engineering in Irvine, Calif. The company would grow to three offices in southern California and Nevada. Church Engineering played a significant role in the infrastructure of Orange County including toll roads, highways and land development.

Bill’s early passions was with his boys, Mike and Brian, racing off-road cars and trucks, winning the Baja 1000 twice. The reputation of Bill Church is still well known and respected in off road and racing today.

Bill’s latest passion was building and living the ranch life in Pagosa Springs. He was most happy riding horses and training his great Pyrenees. For many years, he traveled with his granddaughter, Michelle, to horse shows, where their Tennessee walkers became national champions in both English and Western competitions.

Bill helped establish the local Trinity Anglican Church and served on the vestry. His deep faith gave him much comfort as he fought hard to stay with us as long as possible. Bill is survived by his wife, Mary Church; sons Mike and Brian Church; daughters-in-law Julie and Jennifer Church; and his grandchildren, Michelle and Brandon Church. We will miss our patriarch tremendously, but are so thankful to God for the incredible years we had together.

The family held a private memorial service on the ranch for Bill on Saturday, May 13.