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Published July 3rd, 2024
William Harrison Broach
June 15,1935 - June 20, 2024

William Harrison Broach, a ramblin' wreck from Georgia Tech and a heck of an engineer, left this world on June 20, 2024, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, with his beloved wife Barbara and daughter Mary by his side. He was 89. The cause of death was congestive heart failure.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia on June 15,1935 to Helen Baumgartner Broach and Raymond Charles Broach, Bill was the youngest of four siblings. He grew up in Macon and though he traveled the world, the red clay earth of Georgia always meant home to him. After attending Georgia Tech on an ROTC scholarship, Bill graduated in 1957 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. He earned his MBA from Alabama's Samford University (happily confused with "Stanford" whenever he spoke about his education). In a career that spanned 50 years, he climbed the corporate ladder at General Electric to head the division of Western States, then left to run a solar energy company, worked briefly as a commodities broker, and finally served as a U.S. Bankruptcy Trustee. He was particularly well suited to this last post, where he met people facing one of the worst moments of their lives and treated each one with fairness, compassion, and respect. His most famous client was M.C. Hammer, who gave Bill an unexpected interest in rap music. His two takeaways from his long and varied career were: 1) treating people well pays big dividends, and 2) when faced with a choice between moving and staying put, always make the move, because in movement lies opportunity.
Bill had a deep interest in people, places, and ideas. He loved fast cars, every dog on the planet, tinkering, fixing broken appliances, and watching college football, especially Georgia Tech vs. Georgia. His other favorite preoccupations were a good game of tennis or bridge, a bargain, any new technology, country music, Mary See's chocolates, ice cream floats, his wife's cooking, and Costco. He always said he wanted his ashes scattered at the local Costco parking lot (sorry, Dad).
With his children and grandchildren, Bill was a font of wisdom and opinions. He was known for sending long emails about appliance maintenance, tax deductions, and the best time to take Social Security. To his nine beloved grandchildren, he was their adored "Granddaddy." When they were little, he plied them with sweets, coached them in card games like "Old Hilly," and loved hearing about their school projects and sports tournaments. When they were older, he taught them intricate bridge conventions and gave tips on everything from car insurance to career strategy.
Bill considered himself a very lucky man, but those he left behind are even luckier to have known and loved him. He was loyal to a fault. He had a boundless curiosity and a generous sense of humor. He valued his family and friends above all else, and there was nothing that delighted him more than hearing from a far-flung friend or relative. He was a Southern gentleman and a prince of a fellow.
When Bill married his true love, Barbara Lomont Broach, in 1960, they embarked on a life best captured by their favorite song, George Jones's "Walk Through This World With Me." They moved nine times, living in places as diverse as Brighton, England and Birmingham, Alabama, but the place they loved best was their adopted home of California. They settled in Lafayette for 43 years, enjoying long bike rides; outings to San Francisco, Mendocino, or the wine country with Barbara's sister Annette; and duplicate bridge games and dinner parties with friends - not to mention frequent travel to faraway places. They were each other's steadfast companion and support, right to the end.
Ever the engineer, Bill approached his own death as a problem to be solved, as precise as a mathematical equation. For the past eleven years, Parkinson's had whittled away his physical capacities, with his body rebelling at even the smallest tasks. But on June 20th, when he quickly and quietly exited this world, his body finally did exactly what he wanted.
Bill is survived by his wife of 63 years, Barbara Broach, his three children Mark (Kate Kiguradze), Elise, and Mary Broach (Chris Urheim); his nine grandchildren: Sophie, Julia, and Elliot Broach (Fangfang Lee); Zoe, Harrison, and Grace Wheeler; and Ellen, Jane (Tom Kelly), and Margaret Urheim; his sister Frances King; and a cherished bounty of nieces, nephews, and cousins.
A family celebration-of-life is planned for the summer. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Parkinson's Foundation, https://www.parkinson.org/ Or reach out to a dear friend or family member you haven't talked to in a while. That would please Bill Broach no end.

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