William Anthony “Bill” Pettas passed away peacefully on the evening of January 17, 2022 at Legacy Salmon Creek, surrounded by family, after a long battle with dementia. He was born in 1935 in Buffalo, New York, to Anthony Pettas, an immigrant from the Greek island of Zakynthos, and his wife, Myrtle Pettas, who grew up in eastern Kentucky.
As a child, Bill was highly studious, earning top marks in every subject. He was fond of radio broadcasts, enjoying everything from the news to bluegrass and classical music. This led to a lifelong appreciation of all art forms and he collected works of art throughout his travels and local galleries. He occasionally helped in his father’s chocolate shop and soda fountain, The Mayflower, but preferred reading and intellectual pursuits. He was adored and doted on by his mother.
After graduating from Riverside High School in Buffalo in 1953, he attended the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Literary Arts and then went on to earn a Master of Library Science degree from Rutgers University. He was drafted into the U.S. Army, where he was quickly spotted by a librarian as being well suited to academia. This led him to the Presidio in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he completed his service and initiated his study of library science at UC Berkeley.
A visit to his father’s family in Zakynthos led to an introduction to his future wife, Maria Adamopoulou, in Gastouni, Ilias, Greece. After corresponding with her for a year, Bill returned to Greece to marry Maria in Gastouni. They settled in Oakland, where Bill completed his PhD in Library Science at Berkeley. The family relocated to Florence, Italy where he began his life-long academic research centered on early printmaking in Italy and Spain, which necessitated frequent trips abroad during his career, and resulted in publishing several books on the Giunti printing family. He dedicated these books to his beloved wife, Maria. They also spent two years living in Athens, Greece while working for UNESCO as a consultant to the University of Athens. He was a beloved professor who kept in contact with former students from all over the world for decades. Together, they had four children, Demetra, Zoe, Alex, and Christina.
A lover of languages and student of culture, Bill began studying Greek, and was later inspired to go to Greece and learn more about his heritage. He learned enough to communicate in every country he visited, including the Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and French languages. Research into the origins of the Pettas name led him to Albania and inspired him to study Albanian.
He worked as a librarian at Laney College in Berkeley, Santa Rosa Junior College, and then as the Dean of the library at Auburn University Montgomery, where he retired.
Bill is survived by his wife Maria, their four children and their spouses, his grandchildren – Daniel, Alex, Christopher, Aya, Kengo, Demetri, and Katherine – his sister Irene, and her children and grandchildren.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of William Anthony Pettas, please visit our floral store.