Obituaries : William P. Price Jr.; Former Dam Engineer

William P. Price Jr., a former dam engineer and United Water Conservation District general manager, died Wednesday in Santa Paula. He was 85.

Born July 12, 1910, in Montrose, Colo., he attended high school in Grand Junction, Colo. After graduating from Colorado State University in 1933 with an engineering degree, Price joined the federal Bureau of Reclamation.

“When he was a young engineer he designed the floodgates for the Grand Coulee Dam [in Washington],” said his son, Harvey Price. The capstone of his bureau career occurred when he became the engineer responsible for building Canyon Ferry Dam in Montana.

Price moved to Santa Paula 40 years ago and became assistant chief engineer during the construction of the Santa Felicia Dam. He then worked for the United Water District in various capacities including chief engineer and general manager before retiring at the age of 60. He later formed his own engineering consulting firm.


An avid pilot, Price flew airplanes across the nation, eventually owning a twin-engine Piper Apache and joining the Santa Paula Airport board of directors.

“He flew for a good 30 to 40 years,” his son said. “When he quit flying [at age 75] he missed flying so much he didn’t go out to the airport at all for a couple of years because it was so painful to see other people flying.”

Price served a term as Santa Paula Rotary Club president in 1958 and was appointed a Paul Harris Fellow for his community work.

He was preceded in death by his first wife, Clara, and by a grandson and granddaughter.

In addition to his son, Harvey, of Salem, Ore., survivors include his wife of five years, Reta; daughter Cheri Dill of Olympia, Wash.; sister, Ann Goodro of Denver; brothers, John of Monument, Colo., and Sam of Chehalis, Wash; and six grandchildren.

Visitation is scheduled for noon to 8 p.m. Monday at Pierce Brothers Stetler Mortuary in Santa Paula. A memorial service is set for 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at the First Presbyterian Church with interment to follow at Santa Paula Cemetery. Memorial donations may be made to the Hospice of Santa Clara Valley.