Remembering Bill Carnazzo

It’s with a heavy heart that I’m preparing to attend the memorial services for my good friend and colleague Bill Carnazzo. Bill passed away earlier this week, and it came as quite the surprise and shock as he was one of the healthiest and most active people many of us know.

I’ve known Bill for close to 10 years through our involvement in the fly fishing community, many of those years as a valued employee during my time at Kiene’s Fly Shop. By the time I met Bill he was very much enjoying “retirement”, splitting his time between guiding, teaching, tying, and conservation efforts. In what he called his “past life” as city attorney Bill was noted for his fastidious, scholastic, and compassionate work ethic. All of these traits carried over and Bill was one of those people you could always count on for sound advice.

Bill had a passion for trout streams in Northern California, and although he traveled the world with fly rod in hand, he was always most eager to explore the nooks and crannies of his own back yard. I was fortunate enough to accompany him on several adventures of the years and visit some of the beautiful watersheds he fought so hard to preserve. Bill often would ask to take off from work an hour or so early, only to drive a good distance in order to attend conservation and licensing hearings for local waters. Using his legal background, Bill was a much needed voice for the rivers when it came to granting them fair treatment when it came to flow regulations and power production.

During one memorable trip Bill and I hiked a good distance during a particularly hot early summer day through clouds of mosquitos and avoiding a good number of rattlers. By the time we finally made it down the canyon walls I was disappointed to find a thick wall of shrubbery blocking access to the river. Never dejected, Bill smiled and reached deep into his rucksack  and produced garden shears. Bill blazed us a path to the river and a memorable day ensued. From then on I’ve carried shears for those early season adventures, sound advice indeed Bill.

Just this last winter, after getting caught in an avalanche while skiing, Bill was greatly concerned for my well being as being able to continue to explore the backcountry. Not long after this email showed up in my inbox:

Here is some info on a life-saving avalanche air bag. Have youi seen this thing?. Evidently, it is used mostly in the Alps, and is just getting some attention here in the US.  If those folks in Washington had bee using one of these, their chances of survival may have been

Bill was always concerned for his friend’s well being. He was quick to help me out and provide me with a wealth of advice over the years, and for that I will always be grateful. We had some great time on the river and in the shop, providing some great memories that I will miss. Just prior to passing Bill attended the ISE show in Sacramento and was as enthusiastic as ever in greeting all of his friends. If nothing else I’m happy that Bill was able to vist with friends for near and far one last time.

RIP Bill, you will be missed.

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