John Palla, a Paso Robles native, died Thursday, March 21, 2013. He was born in 1928 to J. Brady and Ida Anderson Palla, natives of Paso Robles and Templeton, respectively. They were among the early Swiss-Italian and Swedish settlers in the area.
John graduated from Paso Robles High School with the Class of 1946, where he was Student Body President. He was active in football, basketball, baseball and track.
He attended UC Santa Barbara, where he majored in Industrial Arts and was on the wrestling team. Upon his return to Paso Robles, John started an auto and farm equipment dealership with his partner, Speed McWilliams.
In 1952, he married the love of his life, Marilyn Gerst, also a native of Paso Robles.
John was called to active duty during the Korean Conflict and served the U.S. Navy. He served at the Post Graduate School in Monterey and continued for several more years in the Reserves.
After his Navy stint, John returned to Paso Robles. His father joined the business, which evolved into Palla Equipment, Inc. GMC trucks were added to the farm equipment lines and John ran the business for 35 years until 1990, when he retired.
John was very active in the community. In the 1970s, along with his good friend, Ray Bryant, who owned KPRL radio, John became the voice of the Bearcats and broadcast the football games.
He was a member of Pioneer Players and performed in four productions and also served on the Board of Directors. He also served as the President of the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce.
John was proud to have been a 35-year member of the Rotary Club, president from 1980-1981. He also served on the Heritage Oaks Bank Board of Directors for 18 years.
His hobbies included restoration of a 1939 GMC Surburban, which took two years. He also enjoyed singing, snow skiing, water skiing, racquetball, tennis and biking.
John enjoyed working and meeting people One of the things he missed after he retired was the customers at his business.
He was the best of husbands; a beloved father and grandfather and will be dearly missed by his family and friends.
John is survived by his wife of 60 years, Marilyn; sister, Marilyn McWilliams; daughters Sharon Williams (Jeff) and Stacie Westbrook (Tony); grandchildren Ryan Williams, Lindsey Mortensen, Kristin Bluth, Gavin Westbrook and Maura Westbrook; and three great-grandchildren.
A service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday, April 1, 2013, at the Kuehl-Nicolay Funeral Home, 1703 Spring St. in Paso Robles, followed by a graveside service at the Paso Robles District Cemetery, with a reception to follow.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the Alzheimer's Association, Pioneer Museum or Central Coast Hospice.
For the complete article see the 03-29-2013 issue.
Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 03-29-2013 paper.
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