Rose Mary Palla passed away peacefully at home January 3, 2023. Frank and Silvia Pacheco were expecting a boy they planned to name William, so when Rose was born in Bakersfield on June 8, 1919, they called her “Billie,” a fitting nickname that stuck. Billie grew up with her only sibling, younger brother, Frank (“Frankie”).
Frank and Silvia were unable to find work in Bakersfield during the Great Depression, so they traveled to Stockton with their young family. Unable to find work in Stockton, they returned to Bakersfield where a good friend gave them a couple of horses and let them farm 40 acres. Billie recalled the old Stine schoolhouse where they lived: “We could see the sky through the roof and the ground through the floor”. Billie attended Panama School and Kern County High School. “Once a Driller always a Driller,” Billie proudly attended the annual “Golden Girls” High School reunions.
Billie married Livio Palla November 9, 1941. Livio was drafted to serve overseas during WWII. When Livio returned, he was surprised to find Billie had saved $1,900 from the little money Livio sent for her to survive upon. That “nest egg” was used to start a small dairy business that became Palla Rosa Farms, a successful family dairy and farming operation. Billie worked hard alongside Livio as the bookkeeper, payroll administrator, accounts payable/receivable manager, kids’ afterschool activity chauffeur, 4H and FFA project assistant, errand and fair project runner, never missing an opportunity to provide 3 homecooked meals a day for her husband and four children.
Known for her unending energy, the “white tornado” kept a tidy home, always ready to host so many in the area, from morning coffee to cocktail hour. Billie made sure her kitchen was always ready to “whip something up” within a matter of minutes when Livio often surprised her with an unannounced lunch guest. If the blinds were up, you knew you could stop by for a great cup of coffee, amazing French toast, and all the love and caring words only a mom, grandma, or great grandma could give. Billie’s personal calendar was filled with all the birthdays and anniversaries of her family along with nieces and nephews. She never missed an opportunity to call, making them feel special by remembering a birthday or anniversary.
Active in the community, Billie was one of the founding members of Kern County Dairymaids and due to her continued devotion and loyalty, she was honored as Dairymaid of the Year in 1996. Billie also belonged to a bowling league and bowled into her 90’s.
Next time you enjoy her favorite martini (gin on the rocks – one of her age-defying secrets), remember and celebrate Billie as a mom, grandma, great grandma, aunt, or friend, and how she stayed young at heart. Bowl into your 90’s; drive to the coast on a whim in your 90’s with your best friend and the top down; have coffee with cream and sugar while watching hummingbirds feed outside your kitchen window; let grandkids run up and down hallways playing tag without worrying about the mess; cook with love; garden and enjoy the outdoors; can jams, jellies and green olives that you grow; relentlessly restrict garden gopher takeovers; speed down country roads; cherish loved ones; forgive others; live in the moment; and remember…its always 5 o’clock somewhere! Cheers!
Billie was preceded in death by her loving husband Livio and brother Frankie. She will be dearly missed and remembered by her children, Gene Palla (Deanne), Wayne Palla (Linda), Shirley Schallberger (Paul), Rodney Palla (Cheryl); grandchildren, Michelle Palla-Barge (John), Brian Palla (Shelly), Emily Fly (Kirk), Eric Palla (Megan), Natalie Peeples (Jay), Madeline Hettinga (Joel) Paul Schallberger Jr. (Ethea), Phillip Schallberger (Lindsay), Patrick Schallberger (Sara), Paige Scott (Adam), Alisyn Palla (Bekky), Blake Palla (Kristin); and her 28 great- grandchildren. A special and heartfelt thank-you goes to Billie's caregivers over the last several years, Julia, Maria, Silvia; Hoffmann Hospice; and William F. Baker, Jr., M.D.
Billie will never be forgotten, and the pain we feel in her loss is only a reflection of our love for her as we cherish her memory. We lost someone we loved but gained an angel we know.
Rosary and Mass of the Christian Burial will be held Tuesday, January 17th, at 9:30 a.m. and 10:00 a.m., respectively, at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, 12300 Reina Rd. Interment will follow at Greenlawn Southwest Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Billie’s name to your favorite charity.