Sep 09, 2022
In Share Your Memory
I couldn’t write about my dear uncle Bill without acknowledging upfront that my life would have been very different without Bill and Amelia’s love and generosity. They believed in me and my artistic potential long before I was able to come to the United States in search of enhancing my professional life as a graphic artist. A risk I could not have taken without their help. It is somewhat understandable that my aunt would want to help her only Argentinian niece. She was 15 when I was born and watched me grow up to be just as much into the arts as she herself was. We had an early bond. But here enters Bill, the sweet, funny, intelligent, super tall “gringo” who stole the hearts of everyone in the Martinez-Degastaldi clan as soon as he set foot on Argentinian soil to meet us. Bill and Amelia were married in Buenos Aires in 1969. We had an intimate wedding celebration at our house, with family and some of Amelia’s close friends. Everybody loved Bill. Of course. What was there not to love! He was nice, smart, and friendly. As soon as we became family there were no limits to what he would do to make us feel loved and appreciated. Especially me. Given that I was a young, enthusiastic artist, Bill agreed with Amelia to help me present an art exhibit at a cultural center in Trujillo, Perú in 1968. The project took a lot of work and dedication on their part, since I was still in Argentina. It was a wonderful experience for my 17-year-old self. And in 1970, they invited me to visit them in Perú! They introduced me to the art world in Trujillo and to the nicest actors, writers, and visual artists in Bill and Amelia’s cultural circle. AND they also gave me the gift of visiting some of the most incredible historic sites, like the amazing Machu Picchu! This trip became one of the best memories of my life. It was that trip (the first one I ever took out of Argentina) that planted the seed of searching for a professional life far from Buenos Aires… in the US, where I moved to in 1979. But let me take a step back in the story… How would you react if your wife’s niece (me) tells you she’s coming to visit you, but… she shows up with her parents “totally by surprise”??? Add to it that you have two very young kids (nine-month-old Pablo and 3 years old Andrea) at home, and have your in-laws (Doña Argentina and Don Paco) already living with you… Well… Bill could have asked Amelia to take us around to know the area in short trips, since he had a full-time job, right? … Nope. Not Bill. He and his great heart decided to take two weeks off from work, pack the whole family in their old Volkswagen Camper and take us ALL to travel throughout California— Death Valley, San Diego, Lake Tahoe, Napa Valley, Sequoia National Park, and much more! An incredible treat we could never forget. Such was his generosity. His love of family. And always making the best of all situations. This visit instilled in me a great curiosity about the graphic design scene in the San Francisco Bay Area, where Bill and Amelia had set roots in the early 70s. It was here where they accepted my desire to come back and work as a graphic designer. These were exciting times for California’s blossoming graphic arts community of the 70s and 80s, developing in tandem with the already brewing Silicon Valley’s new high-tech industry. Changing, impactful times indeed. Bill and Amelia opened their home to me “one more time” in the winter of 1979! I got my first graphic design job in early 1980, while still wrestling with my English. They supported me, and encouraged me to continue, to learn, and to adapt to this new culture. I became an American citizen. My parents followed me later. I married Guillermo and had my son Pablo. I also partnered with another graphic designer and started my own business… …and as it is said, the rest is history. Thank you, dear Bill, for being such a wonderful, loving uncle, and a great human being.