To the greater community, William H. Royer was a man with a long list of accomplishments in politics, sports and real estate.
William H. Royer
Royer was a Republican congressman elected in 1979 after the assassination of Leo J. Ryan at Jonestown, was also twice mayor of Redwood City between 1950 and 1966 and two-term county supervisor elected in 1972 and 1976.
But for Jim Hartnett, Royer's nephew and godson, and former Redwood City mayor, Royer was mostly a man with a love for life, family and community.
Royer died April 8, 2013, three days shy of his 93rd birthday, of natural causes. He was the 15th oldest surviving former member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
"It was a long and full life," Hartnett said.
Royer was preceded in death by his wife of 69 years, Shirley. He is survived by sons, Dennis and Peter, and "bunches" of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Hartnett said.
Even in his last months, Royer was "sharp as a tack" and always asked about other family members, Hartnett said.
As the son of hard-working parents, including a father who could not read, Royer pulled himself up by his bootstraps to attend Santa Clara University on a baseball scholarship after graduating from Sequoia High School in Redwood City.
He played against baseball great Jackie Robinson in college, served as a first baseman and catcher for the Redwood City Merchant fast-pitch softball team in the World Championship Series and coached youth sports. He counted Willie Mays among his golfing partners and, in June, his contributions to sports will be honored with induction to the San Mateo County Sports Hall of Fame. The accolade will join his existing spot in the Sequoia High School Sports Hall of Fame which marked his skills in baseball.
After two years in the U.S. Army Air Corps, Royer launched a real estate career in which he was later joined by his sons. Even after being elected county supervisor, Royer was seen sweeping in front of his office.
"That's what he did. He was a straight-ahead guy," Hartnett said.
Royer was long out of office by the time Hartnett entered politics but he said Royer served as role model and lent him credibility. Royer was a Republican but kept an open mind and was never hyper-partisan which are lessons democrat Hartnett said he learned.
A former union leader speaking with Hartnett years ago learned his Uncle Bill was the former supervisor. "The man said, 'I'd vote for him today. He believed everybody should have a piece of the American pie,'" Hartnett recalled.
Royer requested no memorial service. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Sequoia High School Alumni Association at P.O. Box 2534, Redwood City, CA 94064 or www.sequoiahsalumniassoc.org.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 102.