Bill Duval, 1945 – 2019Columns | Wed Sep 04, 2019 | 10:30pm
William LeFils Duval Jr. passed away on Sunday, August 11, 2019, after a three-year battle with leukemia. Bill was born on March 6, 1945, in Santa Monica, the firstborn child of Charlotte Gibson Duval and William LeFils Duval Sr. The family, including Bill’s brothers, Quinton and John, and his sister, Clare, moved frequently during Bill’s childhood to follow his father’s work for the Douglas Aircraft Company in the space program. He attended school in Santa Monica; Las Cruces, NM; and Cocoa Beach, FL; and at Gresham’s School in Norfolk, England, before returning to Southern California to graduate from Santa Monica High School in 1963.
En route to the beginning of his college career at Berkeley, Bill stopped off at UCSB to visit a friend and never made it to the Bay Area. Bill graduated from UCSB in 1967 and from the UCLA School of Law in 1970; he was admitted to the bar in January 1971. He worked in the public defender’s offices in both Los Angeles and Santa Barbara until 1978, when he established the firm of Lentz and Duval with Gib Lentz, his longtime law partner and friend. Bill specialized in criminal defense work, was on the board of the Santa Barbara County Bar Association, and served as president in 1991. From 1997 to 2018 Bill served on the board of the Downtown Organization of Santa Barbara, where he was president from 2006 to 2008.
Bill married Barbara Dondero in 1968, and together they had three children, Alyssa, William, and Charlotte. In 1990, he married Kathleen Kirby and was fortunate to also become a stepfather to her children, Vanessa and Joey.
Bill was a man of many talents and interests. He collected Navajo rugs, antique tools, copper cookware, and artwork. He was a skilled cook and was responsible for many epic meals and barbecues for friends, family, and colleagues. He was a red wine connoisseur and made his own zinfandel at home in the 1980s. He was a voracious reader, a car enthusiast, a formidable Scrabble opponent, and a curious tinkerer who could debate like no one else. Bill enjoyed sports as both a participant and a spectator. He played rugby at Gresham’s and volleyball at UCSB, and was known as a take-no-prisoners racquetball player. He was a fan of college athletics and was always the most enthusiastic supporter of his children and grandchildren in their athletic endeavors.
Bill loved the beaches of Santa Barbara, the hills of Santa Ynez, and the mountains of Idaho. He also enjoyed traveling, especially to France, where he and his beloved Kathi were able to vacation several times. They particularly enjoyed Paris in the fall — returning to their favorite restaurants, driving through the countryside, and walking the Île Saint-Louis in the evenings. Although his kitchen cabinets and shelves were overflowing, he always stopped in at the Parisian kitchen store E. Dehillerin to track down the one item he didn’t already have.
All who had the privilege of knowing him would agree that if Bill was on your side, you could have no more fierce or loyal friend. He had the innate capacity to be genuinely interested in people, and each of his connections was unique between him and the many people he cared about. As a friend said, “Bill could talk just as easily with a desperado as with a federal judge.” He was generous with his time for friends, family, and clients alike and frequently took alternative forms of payment for those without the means to pay for his services. He was elegant, charming, bright, and charismatic, with a wicked sense of humor, and he had a soft and sentimental side when it came to his family. There was nothing inauthentic about Bill. He knew who he was and lived life in concert with his essence.
Bill was a loving husband, father, grandfather, and brother who pushed us all to be our best while being our most passionate advocate. He was immensely proud of his family, and they, in turn, are immensely proud of him. Bill is survived by his wife, Kathi, and his children, Alyssa (Michael) Edwards of Bellevue, WA, Will Duval of Ketchum, ID, Charlotte (John) Flanagan of Kirkland, WA, Vanessa (Michael) Bendetti of Pacific Palisades, CA, and Joey Kirby of Honolulu, HI. He also leaves behind his adored grandchildren, Nicholas and Lucas Edwards, Cash and Slader Landrum-Duval, Jack and Harper Flanagan, and Sophie and Chloe Bendetti; his sister, Clare Duval DeFord of Whidbey Island, WA; his brother John Duval of North Carolina; and his sister-in-law, Nancy Duval of Sacramento, CA. He was preceded in death by his best friend and younger brother, Quinton Duval.
There will be a private celebration of Bill’s life at a future date. Memorial contributions may be made to the Cancer Foundation of Santa Barbara or to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.