• Glenn Kahl

Ripon Food Center Owner, Bill Webb, Passes Away

Bill Webb, 84, known to many as the happy, always smiling, and whistling owner of the Food Center Market

Bill Webb

in Ripon when his only competition was Mar Val located just across Main Street.


A celebration of life was held on June 9, 2021, at the Life Community Church in Oakdale with Pastors Dave Bliss and Lane Olson officiating. Interment was in Winton, California.


Pallbearers included Tim Webb, David Webb, J.P. Williams, Garvin Cesshire, Danny Shattswell, Dale Smit, and Greg Black.


A native of Rosebud, Arkansas, Bill’s Food Center Market in Ripon was a family operation with his wife Betty serving as bookkeeper and daughter Debbie a checker at the age of 16 -- still a student at Ripon High School along with Donna and Bob in the family team still in high school and working when they could. Ted was the assistant manager and clerk.


Bill then worked at stores in Las Vegas, Oakdale, Sheridan, Montana; B-Bar-B (Bill-Bar-Betty) in Arcata, and then back to Modesto with Food 4 Less and Sav Max Foods where he retired in 2001.


Debbie would later serve as the smiling and competent secretary at Ripon Elementary School for some 32 years.


Bill, who died unexpectedly on June 2, at home in Modesto, was in the grocery business since he was just 16 and was hired on as a box boy in Kokomo, Indiana moving on to Redondo Beach, California in 1957 where he met Betty -- both claiming it was love at first sight. They were wed three months later, never going to bed without a kiss and wishes for a good night’s sleep.


None of his customers ever went without because they couldn't pay the bill. “We’ll work it out later,” he would always tell them. That was the story in Ripon and Sheridan as well. “If the customer had a need and couldn't make it to the store, we would deliver it to them,” daughter Debbie chimed.


Debbie and husband Ted found it a blessing that they could keep their two children upstairs at the store. There was a little den created above the market just for them with a playpen, couch, and chairs.


Bill, Betty, Debbie, and Ted would process deer and elk during hunting season after the market closed at one store for the evening. Bob had his special times working in the store uploading the early morning grocery delivery and even more on Saturdays along with Ted and Bill. Bill also played on the church baseball teams when they operated the store in Montana.


In Ripon, Webb was on the Planning Commission and served as president of the Ripon Chamber of Commerce for a couple of years. He was the one to make the first contact with the Ripon, England Golf Team that would play the local Ripon team at the Spring Creek Country Club every other year for years to come. He was also active in the Ripon Lions Club, Ripon Jaycees, and in the Bethany Covenant Church.


After Bill retired he discovered the computer and the Facebook social medium. He cherished his many, many friends and family that he would visit every night online. With his headphones on he would listen to Gospel and Bluegrass music. With a tremendous love of playing music, he and Betty would have live bluegrass jam sessions with the guitars, banjo, bass on until all hours of the night at their home.


The kids loved it and would fall asleep under the coffee tables listening while mom and dad played. In every town, Bill resided, he formed a group that played Bluegrass. He also played Bluegrass for fun and played Bluegrass with Betty for a grand banquet at the Refuge Church in Manteca.


Bill was exceptionally proud of his children. Daughter Donna left for college after high school and is now an administrative assistant with the Orange County Transit Authority -- soon to be retired. Bob enlisted in the U.S. Navy and retired after 20 years of service, now working as a senior systems engineer for Lockheed Martin.


Bill is survived by nine grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

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