Bill Geyer, a lobbyist and longtime Murietan who helped make it legal to drive a golf cart across Jackson Road and helped found the community’s first kids’ baseball team, died early Jan. 1. He was 81. Mr. Geyer and his wife, Naida West, lived for 35 years on a ranch between the North Course’s third hole and the Cosumnes River. They moved recently to Campus Commons in Sacramento.
Around California, Mr. Geyer was probably best known for his role in the Williamson Act, a 1965 piece of legislation that addressed the problem of farmers and ranchers selling their land to developers. The law gave landowners a tax break if they agreed not to develop their land.
As a legislative committee staffer, he helped craft the bill. For decades after, he worked as a consultant to promote the measure across California. The law came to be adopted by other states.
Closer to home, he was best known for other things.
“When we moved to Rancho Murieta in 1982, there were no children’s activities – no baseball, that kind of thing,” West said in an interview. “And Bill just absolutely decided he was going to have a baseball team. He put out the message ... and he got a whole bunch of kids. He trained them, he coached them.”
They needed other teams to play against, West said, so Mr. Geyer created a league by drumming up interest in small towns in the gold country. The Murietans played on a field behind the Country Store.
Fifteen years ago, when the community learned that under law, golf carts weren’t allowed to cross Jackson Road, even though Murietans had been doing it for 30 years, Mr. Geyer worked his connections at the Capitol and got the area’s Senate and Assembly representatives to carry a bill to allow the crossings. It was signed into law and took effect in 2004.
Bill Geyer and Naida West at the 50th birthday party she threw for him.
William Henry Geyer was born Oct. 17, 1936. He grew up in the Oakland area.
After skipping two grades in school, Mr. Geyer went to Stanford University on a scholarship, majoring in literature and history. Nearing his doctoral dissertation, he left Stanford in the early ‘60s, as California’s Legislature prepared to go from part-time to full-time and there were staff openings in Sacramento for bright people.
Mr. Geyer married his first wife, Pat Kunzel, and started a family.
After a decade as a legislative staffer, Mr. Geyer left and formed a business to monitor state government activities (California Research), a monthly publication that looked at state politics (California Journal) and, finally, his own consulting and lobbying practice (Geyer Associates). Geyer Associates helped establish coastal and land conservancies and habitat and species management programs.
He married West and they moved to Rancho Murieta.
“The reason we moved there was because he was a golfer,” West said. “He was a great jock.” He played golf, softball, baseball, rugby and football, she said, and was a charter member of Rancho Murieta Country Club.
During their time in Rancho Murieta, West developed a love for the area’s history and wrote a series of three historical novels. She said Mr. Geyer was always supportive of her work – “a quiet, strong, intelligent force.” A favorite photo shows him parking the cars of visitors for one of the occasional historical tours West would lead at their ranch.
In addition to his wife, surviving Mr. Geyer are three children, Cathryn Geyer, Robert Geyer and Carolyn Duty, three stepchildren, four grandchildren and four step-grandchildren.
A memorial will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Jan. 21 at the Nepenthe Clubhouse, 1131 Commons Drive in Sacramento. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make a donation to the Sacramento SPCA.