Deaths | November 26, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Community Pulse - November 26, 2010


William Biggerstaff

William E. ("Bill") Biggerstaff, 91, whose career included senior positions with Ford and Wells Fargo Bank, culminating in 1983 as a co-founder of Silicon Valley Bank, died Nov. 15 in Portola Valley.

He was born in Berkeley, Calif.

An avid sportsman, he lettered in basketball while studying at the University of California, Berkeley. Upon graduating in 1940, he entered the U.S. Navy and commanded a destroyer escort in the South Pacific during World War II.

After the war, he attended Harvard Business School and graduated in 1947 with a master's degree in business administration.

He retuned to the Bay Area, and worked first in auto sales and later for Mechanic's Bank in Richmond. It was at this time that he met and courted Shirley Gibson of Piedmont, Calif. The couple married in 1951.

Two years later, he joined the international division of Ford Motor Company. His sales and marketing positions took him and his family to New York City, Dearborn, Mich., and Brussels, where he was responsible for opening new markets for Ford in Europe.

The family later relocated to Atherton, Calif. He joined Wells Fargo Bank in San Francisco.

In the late 1970s he conceived the idea of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) with his friend, Stanford professor and entrepreneur Robert Madearis. They recognized the need for investment banking to small to medium-size technology firms. In October, 1983, he and Madearis, along with then-CEO Roger Smith, opened the bank's first office in San Jose.

Today, SVB Financial Group has 26 offices in the U.S., and subsidiaries in the U.K., Israel, India and China. An annual employee award is named in his honor.

He was active for several years at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, serving as a deacon and in the church's ministry with the incarcerated.

He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Shirley; children Barry Biggerstaff of Carbondale, Ill., Beth Andersen of Rocklin, Calif., Jan Owen of Seattle, and Brandon Biggerstaff of

Emeryville, Calif.; and seven grandchildren.

Donations may be made to Pathways Hospice, 585 North Mary Ave., Sunnyvale, CA 94085.

Raymond Rooney

Raymond Irving Rooney, 95, a longtime resident of Palo Alto, died Nov. 22.

He grew up on a ranch in Los Banos, Calif. and moved to the Bay Area at age 21. He resided in the Baron Park neighborhood of Palo Alto for 54 years.

HHe married his sweetheart, Marianne Menter, in 1939 and enjoyed 64 years of marriage before she preceded him in death in 2003.

He was the 31st employee of Hewlett Packard and worked there for 35 years as a production supervisor and later personnel manager. As he retired in 1977, he was elected the first President of the HP Retirement Club, and served there many years as the editor of their newsletter.

He was talented at writing, singing and playing the harmonica, and all will remember him by his quick wit and sense of humor, loved ones said.

He spent many hours recounting humorous yet true stories of his life to family and friends, and even recorded his life story along with his best friend and brother, Bud, in a book called "Of Days Gone By."

Along with hunting and fishing, he received much pleasure in the companionship of many special pets, especially his dog. He enjoyed playing softball, camping, taking trips with family and friends and going to Tahoe. He considered his trip to Ireland a highpoint due to his Irish heritage and his father's influence.

This year marked his 62 year membership with the Palo Alto Elks Club. He and his family spent many years participating in Elks activities.

He is survived by his daughters, Carol Wermuth of Kernville, Calif., Maureen Davis of Santa Clara, and Kathy Peterson of Auburn, Calif; seven grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held on Monday, Nov. 29, at 12:30 p.m. at Whitehurst Chapel in Los Banos, CA. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his memory to the Lucille Packard Children's Hospital online at or by check payable to Lucille Packard Foundation for Children's Health, 400 Hamilton Ave. Suite 340, Palo Alto, CA 94301.


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