by family historian Norma (Garcia) Pettit
On May 15, 2021, our family lost Bill Roig, oldest child and only son of Auntie Helen. He was 88 years old and had lived a long, fulfilled life which included a successful career as a renowned architect.
I first met Cousin Bill in the early 1960s when he traveled to San Francisco to meet his Rivera relatives. It was a big deal in our family and Bill was joyfully received by all who had the opportunity to visit him at Auntie Helen’s house. He had only recently reconnected with Auntie Helen after having discovered that she was his birth mother. I didn’t see Bill again until I moved to Puerto Rico in 1970 to begin my university studies, and I was present at his wedding to Evelyn Torres in 1971. Throughout the years, I saw Bill sporadically. He made several trips to California and his daughter Wilma and my daughter Tory connected, being only two days apart in age.
It was on one such trip—the very memorable party held at my sister’s house in Martinez on July 27, 1996—that Bill told me the story of his early years. The party was memorable because it was the first time that Auntie Helen had all three of her children together at the same time. The reunion was front page news in the premier issue of our family newsletter, “…y la familia?”, which was published on August 27, 1996. We recorded it on our video camera, and although the audio of that recording is not very good and the party was 25 years ago, I believe that I remember most of the details accurately. I can still picture Bill sitting at the picnic table under the umbrella in Olga’s back yard, telling his incredible tale.(more…)