Bill Soberanes, aka “Mr. Petaluma,” died on June 2, 2003, exactly 49 years to the day that his first column “So They Tell Me” appeared in the Argus-Courier on June 2, 1954. If he were still alive, October 19th would have been his 92nd. birthday. He had many claims to fame during his adventurous life.
For example: October 5th. was (to the best of my knowledge) the 52nd. Whiskerino Contest to be held in Petaluma. Bill was instrumental in organizing the first contest that was held as part of the Petaluma Centennial Celebration in 1958 at the Old Adobe. In addition, Bill was also credited as the founder of the World Wristwrestling Contest, the Ugly Dog Contest, and the Houdini Halloween Seance. It was probably Bill’s 49 year career, as a columnist for the Argus-Courier that most Petalumans will remember; especially his “My Fascinating World of People” columns. He published over 1200 peopleology articles. In 1987, Bill stated, I believe I have been photographed with more people — and different kinds of people — than anyone in history. He claimed to have collected over 45,000 photos of himself with presidents, sport figures, movie starts, politicians, celebrities, gangsters, as well as ordinary people. This is why he claimed to be the world’s foremost peopleologist.
Although the definitions of peopleologist and peopleologist were submitted to the Oxford English Dictionary 10 years ago for inclusion in their publication, without success; Bill Soberanes is still our “Mr. Petaluma.” Happy birthday, Bill!
P.S. If you haven’t seen Petaluma Pete’s video of a past Whiskerino Contest, check out… http://www.petaluma360.com (Scroll down to the second Kids Corner frame.)