Willy ChamberlandsmDuring the summer of 2015 Willy Chamberlin lost his fight with cancer. On August 29 a memorial celebration was held at the Chamberlin Ranch, just north of Los Olivos, California. Several hundred persons were present,from the various communities and organizations that were part of Willy's life.
Special appreciation for his accomplishments was expressed by family members,business colleagues, and ranchers, friends and officials from the Los Olivos area. One of the speakers was Bob Lowe, who spoke on behalf of the Tortugateers of Prado Dam.

Willy's contributions to the Tortugateers were especially significant. Elsewhere on this website there is reference to his dealings with the college administration in 1960 allowing the group to stay on campus and eventually leading to the name change to MaraTogas. There is also ample reference on the website to the
many reunions that Willy hosted at the Ranch. Browse the site for photos of these various events. Finally, he provided much of the impetus for the formation of the Tortugateer Endowment at the College.

Bob Lowe's comments at Willy's memorial:

"Hey, Willy, it is really great to be back on your ranch.  Many of your Tortuga buddies are here this afternoon.  We all share great memories of our many reunions here.  You were a main contributor who had kept the Tortuga legacy and the camaraderie alive – thanks.


We are sad you won't be joining us for beers this afternoon, but each of us, in our own way, will feel your presence.


I am sure that all of the CMC alumni here have clear memories of their first impressions of you way back in the fall of 1958.


I remember thinking 'who is this long, lanky guy, always in levis, a big belt buckle, cowboy shirt and hat?'


I soon learned that with Willy, there was a real person behind that cowboy image. During that first week of our freshman year, we remember the sophomore run hazing – I sure was glad you were on our side.


Then, there was that great Boswell-Wolford competition.  Those were the days.


I will never forget the experience early in our sophomore year when 13 of our classmates were invited to join the Tortugateers of Prado Dam.


Remember that 'hell week'?  That was a challenge, and fun.


We all share great memories of times together.


What about the annual Tortuga Hookie Lau?


Fortunately, we all did survive and graduated.


Willy, you would be pleased reading the notes I have received from your Tortuga brothers.


Tom Gertmanian wrote 'I am sure all of us can agree that through the friendship with Willy, our lives were vastly enriched'.


Your coach, Bill Arce, wrote: 'Willy was a team player.  He worked hard to achieve and helped his teammates whenever they needed help'.


Your friend and teammate, Nick Freeze, wrote – 'It was obvious from the outset that Willy was a class act... a bright young man with a huge heart... a terrific sense of humor and ready to offer a helping hand with no questions asked'.


Willy, I respect you for your balanced style. You were always there leading our group to have a great time – whether on campus, in the orange groves, or wherever. But more importantly, when the need came for more serious leadership and wise judgement – you were there as well. This wise leadership continued to flourish as you matured.


You were a respected member of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.


You served on the Board of the Bixby Land Company for 50 years, and served as its chairman for the past decade.


You also served effectively as President of the Santa Barbara County Cattlemen's Association, and served on local school boards.


Your dedication to CMC and the Tortugateers was evident in your leadership of founding the Tortuga scholarship endowment fund.


This fund, now well over $500,000, is providing needed scholarships for very special CMC students.


Willy, the criteria which you helped to develop – 'work hard, play hard, have fun, push the boundaries, look people in the eye at all times' –describes you.


As I imagine you riding off into the western sunset, riding tall in the saddle with that big hat – I remember you working hard, playing hard, always having fun, pushing the boundaries, and looking at me square in the eyes.


Willy, thanks for being you and being a part of the Tortugas, CMC, and of our lives.  We will not forget you!
God bless.


In testimony to all these contributions about 25 Tortugas and wives or partners and friends were present at the Memorial. Many others sent notes of condolence. The event served as a mini-reunion of sorts; it also served to remind all of the many ways in which Willy affected those he touched.






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Carol McCrary and Becky and Pete Adams,  Reed and Margery Redwine, Bob and Beth Lowe Rusty and Bebe Grosse, Bob McCrary and Pete Adams, John and Pat Sprouse Fred Lowrey, Rudi Smith (seated), Shannon Lowrey, Read Redwine