Bill Nawrocki was born Nov. 18, 1931, in Chicago, Ill., and died June 7, 2019.
He was the elder of the two brothers. After high school he lived at home and attended Knapp School of Percussion in Chicago on a scholarship. He took various part-time jobs. In 1951 he joined the Air Force. He chose the Air Force because they had a full-time band. After basic training at Parks Air Force Base in Dublin, he was sent to percussion school in Washington, D.C., for three months. He went in as a Corporal and came out a Staff Sergeant.
He met his wife at a USO show she was dancing in and they saw quite a bit of each other and were soon engaged to be married. In 1954 they married. They moved to Texas for his final two years, and was released from duty in September 1956, and they returned to Oakland. Settling into their new home, his wife, Isabel, started teaching dance, and Bill joined Local 6 Musicians Union right away.
He started playing a few jobs till different musicians heard him and started recommending him to different bandleaders. He started playing with Del Courtney. Then he started playing shows at The Fairmont Hotel and Bimbo’s Night Club. There he was playing Annie, Guys & Dolls, The Rat Pack, Tony Bennett, Bing Crosby, Frankie Laine, Bob Hope, The Ink Spots, Rosemary Clooney, Keely Smith, The King Sisters, Connie Haines, Pat Yanks, and many more. He played with Tex Beneke, George Shearing, Ernie Heckscher, Bob Crosby, Les Brown, the Oakland Symphony, etc. In theater he played Annie, Man of La Mancha, Guys & Dolls, Peter Pan, 42nd Street, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Anything Goes, and To Bessie With Love. He was Band Master on cruise ships - Princess, Sitmar, Royal Viking, and Crystal Cruises.
He is survived by his wife Isabel of 64 years, and daughter Nancy Doorn of Sedro-Woolley, Wash., and her husband Kris Doorn and his grandchildren Nicholas, Myles, Olivia Doorn and Alyssa Nawrocki; Godchild Teresa Sheridan and her daughters Michele and Melissa; niece Diane Handy and her husband Alan, Tony Schennek and Ed Schennek brothers-in-law.
Funeral will be June 20, 2019, at 11 a.m. at Callaghan Mortuary, 3833 East Ave., Livermore. , CA 94550. Celebration of Life will be at Elk’s Club #2117, 940 Larkspur Dr., Livermore, CA 94551.
In lieu of flowers, please contribute to Alzheimer’s Association or Hope Hospice, 6377 Clerk Ave. #100, Dublin, CA 94568.
Callaghan Mortuary is honored to be serving the Nawrocki family.
An online guestbook is available for condolences at www.callaghanmortuary.com.