William R. “Bill” Henley, 76, died Tuesday, Oct. 14 in Modesto after an extended illness.
He was born in Sacramento, the middle son of Emmaline (Griesner) and R.F. “Bud” Henley. As a young boy, he spent weekends and summers at his grandfather’s and also aunt and uncle’s ranches in Oakdale. He moved with his parents and brothers to the family’s ranch in Oakdale in 1947.
From a young age he learned to drive a team of draft horses, knocked almonds, made wine with his grandfather, rode horses, and raised cattle. He showed his cattle in 4-H and FFA with much success for many years, exhibiting a number of champion steers and also Polled Hereford breeding stock throughout the state.
He attended Oakdale grammar school and graduated from Oakdale High School, Class of 1956, where he was active in student government and FFA. He attended Modesto Junior College and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
While working one summer in Lake Tahoe as a horsemanship instructor at a children’s summer camp, he met his future wife, Diane, who was working as a guide giving horseback tours of the Tahoe area. Their first meeting was on horseback on the trail. They were married in 1962. In the early years of their marriage, they lived in Colorado where he was a ranch manager. They moved back to Oakdale a few years later where they remained.
Mr. Henley started his horseshoeing business in Oakdale around 1969, which he did for over 35 years. He had many clients in the Oakdale, Waterford, Turlock, Riverbank, Escalon, Modesto, and foothill areas.
He and his wife were very active in supporting their children in 4-H and FFA, taking them to exhibit at many horse, sheep, and cattle shows throughout the state and surrounding states. He was a 4-H leader and was a founding member of the Oakdale Livestock Boosters.
He was an active member of the Oakdale Grange Hall #435, serving several terms as Master. He was the chairman of the Oakdale Ducks Unlimited dinner for many years. He was also a member of the Oakdale Sportsmen’s Club and greatly enjoyed hunting and fishing.
He is survived by his devoted wife of 52 years, Diane Henley; children, R. Quinn (Amy) Henley of Livermore; Dawn Henley (Brian) Carden of Manteca; brother, Ronald; sister-in-law, Paula; and nephews, David and Robert.
He was preceded in death by his parents; and brother, James.
A celebration of life will be held at 2p.m. on Friday, Nov. 21 at the Oakdale Sportsmen’s Club, 840 N. Stearns Road, Oakdale, with a meal to follow and “open mic” to share stories about him.
Remembrances may be made in his name to a memorial scholarship that is being arranged – more information available from family and at the celebration of life; or to Community Hospice, 4368 Spyres Way, Modesto 95356.