Friendly, honest and fair, William Bernard “the Dood” Eastman was a supportive father, husband and local business proprietor. As the owner of A-1 Home Appliance, he earned a reputation as a trustworthy and likable employer. He passed away October 8 at the age of 92.
Bill was born in Porterville, California, and grew up in Pasadena. He met his wife, Helen Norton Wagner, at Pomona College and they married in December of 1938. After they returned from their honeymoon, Helen and Bill settled in Long Beach, where they raised their sons John, Mark and Kent. In 1947, Bill bought an appliance store on Willow in Signal Hill and renamed it A-1 Home Appliance.
“I grew up at the store and went to work there in 1972. I worked with him until he retired. He was a real gentleman,” said Kent. “He had great relationships with his employees and people in general. He was someone that people genuinely liked. I learned about honesty and fairness by seeing him interact with people.”
Bill was also a devoted father and husband who was always there for his family.
“I had a print shop when I was a teenager that my dad assisted me with,” said Mark, former reporter and photojournalist for the Signal Tribune. “He took an interest in whatever his sons did. He was also a catalyst to my becoming a professional photographer. He had been a serious amateur and got me interested in it.”
Bill’s own interests included boating, woodworking and volunteering at some of his favorite organizations, which included the 20-30 Club, Kiwanis Club of Long Beach, Boy Scouts and United Stores Buying Group.
“He owned over 15 boats in his lifetime. He would buy a boat, keep it for a while and then buy a bigger boat. He was also an active volunteer. It was important to him to give back to the community. He had an interest in helping people. It was something inherent in him,” said Mark.
In 1993, Bill sold the store to Howard’s Appliance and Bigscreen Superstore and retired with Helen in Hawaii. When Helen passed away in 2005, Bill moved back to Long Beach and spent the last years of his life living with Kent and daughter-in-law Sharon.
“I’m glad he lived with us for the last two and a half years,” said Kent. “It gave me an opportunity to become close to him again. We’d talk and share memories and laughs. I will miss him.”
There was a celebration of “the Dood’s” life shared by family and friends last Sunday.
Rachael Rifkin is a memoirist with a background in journalism. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 612-4183.