Author Bio

Born in Grand Forks, North Dakota, in 1935, Bill Raney grew up in trouble.  At age 14 when his family fell apart, he spent a year in an institution, before ending up in Port Angeles, Washington, where he lived with his aunt.  There he became a ham radio operator during his high schools years, spending way too much time in his ham shack out in the garage, cruising the world on the airwaves.  Bill especially enjoyed traveling to the South Pacific and to such places as Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Guam, and—Bill’s favorite—to Yap!

After graduating from high school in 1954, Bill got a scholarship and went to Reed College in Portland, Oregon, for two years.  In 1956, he transferred to the University of California at Berkley, for a single semester.  Having been exposed to the bright lights of the big city at such a tender age, no one was gonna keep Bill “down on the farm!”  Bill fell in love immediately, this time with San Francisco.  He soon dropped out of college to become a beatnik in North Beach.  It was there he met JoAnne Walker, who soon became JoAnne Walker Raney, co-author of “Letters to Zerky, a Father’s Legacy to a Lost Son and a Road Trip Around the World”.  Together they adopted Zerky, aka Eric Xerxes Raney, age six-weeks.

JoAnne had previously purchased a failing art movie theatre in North Beach, The Movie, where Bill soon went to work as a janitor, and then later as a projectionist too.  In 1967, during The Summer of Love, the theatre failed for good, and JoAnne managed to rescue a little more than $10,000 in cash out of it, with which the three of them set off on a trip to Europe, where they bought a VW bus, which they ended up driving all the way to Burma.  Unlike Bill’s many previous trips through the airwaves in the ether, this trip spawned “Letters to Zerky, a Legacy to a Lost Son and Road Trip Around the World”.  Along for the ride was Tarzan, the feisty family dog.

Returning to San Francisco thirteen months later, in 1968, the Raney family moved down the coast to Santa Cruz, California, where Bill founded the Nickelodeon Theatre, which is still going strong today.  One year later, Joanne died in the night of a cerebral aneurism, and then the year after that Zerky got run over and killed by a truck.

In 1971, Bill got married again, to Nancy Atkinson, who soon came to work at the Nickelodeon, which Bill sold in 1992.  In 1997, the two of them bought a 42’ trawler, became live-aboards, and started cruising the Pacific Coast between Santa Cruz and Alaska.

Today Bill and Nancy live happily together in a Redwood forest outside of Santa Cruz, California, with the deer, no antelope to play with them, but with Lucy and Hardy, their two remaining cats.  Bill is now writing a second book, “In Search of a Lost Penny”. Hardy’s sister, Laurel, got eaten by a coyote.