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Tribute To William Coffill

Through the years I have had the privilege to work with a number of exceptional Council or Board members. Here in Sonora, as the former City Administrator, I worked with an elite group of 14 different council members spanning over 21 plus years. With the Sonora Area Foundation over the last year, I have worked with 10 Board members. When I add into the equation those Council or Board Members I have worked with over the full 32 years of my public service life, I have had the opportunity to work with 42 different elected or appointed individuals.

Of these 42 individuals, there are several who rise to the top in the category of putting service above self. Undoubtedly, Bill Coffill, recently retired Sonora Area Foundation Boardmember, is one of those special individuals who, like crème in coffee, rises to the top, even though I only had the pleasure to work with him for 7 months. However, I have known Bill for many years and have always respected and admired his abilities as a community leader.

Bill Coffill voluntarily retired as a director in May of this year after serving on the Sonora Area Foundation Board for the past 16 years. Individual board members recently honored him at a dinner celebration last month. During those 16 years on the Board, Bill provided wisdom, integrity, keen insight, and most importantly, common sense into ways to give back to the community through the Foundation. The Sonora Area Foundation Board and staff have relied on Bill for his wisdom and knowledge in assessing community needs, recommending grants and providing leadership in a manner consistent with the desires of its donors including the late Irving Symons and Elaine Symons Baker, both of whom created funds with the Foundation.

In a recent candid interview regarding Bill’s reflections on his service to both the Sonora Area Foundation and its supporting organization, the Irving J. Symons Foundation, Bill had this to say:

“In my view, the Foundations best serves the community by doing two things which are of paramount importance. First and foremost, they must follow the wishes and intentions of its donors. This applies not only to the late Irving Symons, but to all Foundation donors across the board. Secondly, and equally as important, the Foundation must continue to make wise grants to the community, especially during the course of the bleak economic times which we are currently experiencing.”

Sonora Area Foundation Board member Gary Dambacher, had this to say about Bill Coffill:

“If I had a word to describe Bill’s service to SAF and IJSF, it would be ‘courageous’. After resigning in early 2009, Bill came back on the board during difficult times and served courageously. Turning around Bill’s unique catch-phrase, I’d say we received our own ‘bang for the buck’ with Bill Coffill.”

Sonora Area Foundation Board Chair, Jim Johnson felt that Bill’s willingness, thoughtful advice and guidance especially over the last year provided the Foundation much stability. Although we’ll miss Bill on the Board, we continue to appreciate his service as an ad-hoc member on one of the Foundation committees.

The most difficult task in replacing a Boardmember like Bill Coffill is the large pair of shoes that will need to be filled. Bill may be off the Board, but his enumerable contributions will not be forgotten.