William "Bill" W. Becker, 85, passed away on April 2, 2007, at Kingman Regional Medical Center. He was born May 18, 1921, in Pasadena, Calif., to Don and Ruth Becker. Upon his return from serving for five years in the Navy during World War II, he met the love of his life, Joan T. Bolas, and they were married on Dec. 6, 1945.
Bill and Joan resided in Santa Barbara until they relocated to Arizona. While there, Bill assisted his father in the painting business, but his drive and ambition were unfulfilled, so he entered into the construction business, building homes, apartments, and even two rest homes. He retired from the construction business in 1960 and took his family on a two-and-a-half-month tour of the United States. Finding old and rundown accommodations, he asked his former partner in the construction business to join him in building some new motels.
In June of 1962, the first Motel 6 was opened in Santa Barbara with the goal of providing clean and comfortable accommodations at a fair price. By the time the franchise was sold in 1974, there were approximately 180 motels in operation.
Bill and Joan purchased the Fort Rock Ranch in 1970 and permanently relocated to operate the ranch in 1978 until its sale in 1996. As Bill said, "The ranch life was the best ever but the challenges were few." Thus, Bill founded The Stockmen's Bank, which began operation in 1980. He was the bank's only chairman of the board throughout its 26-year history and will fondly be remembered as the bank family's patriarch. During its existence, The Stockmen's Bank expanded across rural Arizona. In 1997, the bank made history as the first Arizona bank to expand into California by acquiring a bank with three branches. The Stockmen's Bank operated 31 Arizona branches along with 10 California branches and was the largest independent bank in Arizona at the time of the merger with National Bank of Arizona in January of 2007.
Bill is survived by his son, Tod W. Becker (Lorilee) of Kingman, and his daughter, JoAnn Sharp of Scottsdale, as well as eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. He will be missed by his family and all who knew him. He was an inspiration to all.
At Bill's request, a private memorial service will be held by the family.
However, a celebration of his life will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on April 20 at the Kingman Elks Lodge. Memorial contributions can be made to the KRMC Hospice Home, Attention: Jamie Taylor, 3269 Stockton Hill Road, Kingman, AZ 86409-3619.