Willian F. “Bill” Brunner was born in Queens, New York, on July 3, 1940. As a baby, Bill and his family moved to Queens.

Bill Brunner was a longtime volunteer with The Juvy Project in Goleta. (Brunner family photo)
Bill Brunner was a longtime volunteer with The Juvy Project in Goleta. (Brunner family photo)

An accomplished musician, at the age of 12 Bill played the accordion while his brother, Paul, recited German poems written by their mother on a Manhattan radio station twice monthly.

During the summer months, the two teenagers assisted their dad, William, in his painting business.

Bill received a bachelor degree in journalism from the University of Colorado at Boulder, then returned to New York City landing a position with the Herald Tribune.

After three years, Bill joined his family out West, going back to school to receive his teaching credential. He taught grade school and middle school students in Whittier and Idyllwild before moving to Beverly Hills, where he worked in an art gallery.

That led to one of the most delightful experiences of his life, when he delivered a painting to the estate of Ella Fitzgerald. Ella was entertaining guests, but Bill was able to sit down and converse at her piano. After some time, he asked her to play for him. She kindly replied this was her time off.

Bill moved back to Santa Barbara to be near his aging parents while managing one of the local Sambo’s restaurants.

In the spring of 1986, his life forever changed when he accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord.

He spent several years as the church pianist at Grace Baptist Church before being afflicted with tinnitus (a ringing in the ears) which forced him to give up the joy of playing for his Lord. This did not stop him from writing music and playing for the Lord in his home.

The illness did not thwart his serving God in other meaningful ways.

Bill became a volunteer with The Juvy Project in Goleta and immersed his life and energy into the lives of many young men caught in the throes of Juvenile Hall and Los Prietos Boys Camp.

Bill’s favorite missionary recipient was Missionary Aviation Fellowship. In lieu of donations, his wish is to send gifts to Missionary Aviation Fellowship and The Juvy Project so God’s work might bless their ongoing needs.

Bill entered Paradise on September 26, 2023. He is survived by Diana, his loving wife of 20 years (October); and his brother, Paul, and Paul’s wife, Mary.

A memorial service celebrating Bill’s life will be held at Calvary Chapel Santa Barbara, 1 N. Calle Cesar Chavez, Unit 21, at 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023.

Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent in Santa Barbara. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his personal relationship with God, and his goal is to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. As a longtime member of CBMC of Santa Barbara (Christian Business Men’s Connection), he started writing Fourth Quarter Strategies columns in 2014, and he now reaches an international audience through the CBMC International devotional Monday Manna. He can be contacted at jim@fourthquarterstrategies.com for more information. The opinions expressed are his own.