Obituary: Bill Sandole, 1950 - 2023

Sandole Family •

Bill Sandole

Bill was born in Southbridge, MA on September 3, 1950, and was the second oldest of seven siblings. He started working at a very young age and always possessed a natural born entrepreneurial spirit. He talked frequently about his first job at his grandfather's butcher shop, where he learned the trade of meat processing and developed his highly technical knife skills that would later suit him well in the seafood industry. Growing up in a family of seven with strong Italian heritage, he developed a love for food at a young age. He had also acquired his taste for business (and food) while helping his father run his Italian delicatessen along with several of his siblings. Throughout grade school, Bill was also known for pedaling boxes of chocolate, candied cherries, and of course, fishing lures. He had found a chocolate wholesaler, and jumped at the opportunity to make a few extra bucks. He graduated from Tantasqua Regional High School in Sturbridge in 1968. Bill had a love for cars, and even acquired a couple of his favorites by the time he graduated high school. He talked fondly of driving all of his friends to Woodstock 69’ is his VW Bus and his many trips across the country.

Next to business, music was always a very important part of Bill's life. He began learning guitar at the age of 10 after being gifted one by his mother. He had an incredible ear and became proficient at both the guitar and piano and could harmonize beautifully with just about anyone. Having grown up on a farm, he always sought out the best acoustics on the property to play music, like the barn, to practice Beatles tunes with his brothers and sisters.

After high school, Bill went on to attend the University of Maine, Orono. This would later bode well for him as a draftee in the Vietnam War. His year at college landed him in a military program in Germany, rather than Vietnam, where he worked as a counselor for service men in need. He loved his time in Europe, and he loved to talk about his adventures there to anyone who would listen. With his army schedule being three weeks on, three weeks off, he went “everywhere”. One Friday night early in his deployment, he was lured into the back room of a cafe where he could hear someone playing his favorite Beatles tune. It was a German man named Rynar, who quickly became Bill’s best friend abroad. They went on to produce a few records together, and were often featured on German radio stations. Bill spent three years stationed in Germany with much of his time spent traveling and exploring other countries. He returned to the States being a proficient speaker of the German language.

Upon returning home, he set out on his first real business venture in his home town of Sturbridge, producing and selling handcrafted leather goods. His first store was small, and he often employed his siblings to help him get off the ground. He grew the business steadily and went on to open a much grander space, The Sturbridge Leather Works, at the age of 25. Throughout this period of time he also made a number of forays into horse and dog racing as well as professional poker.

A couple years later, Bill visited Nantucket for the first time. “I came out here for a weekend in 1978 and never left!” he would often say when asked how he made his way to the Island. He always loved to fish and quickly found himself on Nantucket’s South Shore fishing for Striped Bass. He was successful in his efforts and in fact so successful, he began going door to door at downtown restaurants while on his weekend vacation, trying to sell his Striped Bass. In love with Nantucket, the ocean, and fishing, he went home to Sturbridge where he quickly sold his business, and returned to the Island full time. He picked up where he left off with his passion for fishing and began to pursue it in a more commercial format. He created East Coast Provisions & Seafood Co in 1978, a seafood brokerage and wholesale company, while also making his way as a Scalloper in the wintertime. Through family friends he met his wife Jill in 1985, convincing her to move to Nantucket, they married in 1986, and had their son Jesse in 1987.

As his business evolved, he eventually found himself at 167 Hummock Pond Rd, an old farm stand with a walk-in cooler. After many years of wholesaling seafood to Nantucket restaurants, he had developed a reliable “back-door” clientele at the 167 Hummock Pond address. Friends, and friends of friends, would show up at the back door looking to pay cash for fresh Seafood. Encouraged by the demand for his products, he opened a retail store at the same address in 1996, after 18 years as a wholesaler. Quickly, his store became more and more popular. A place where summer folks and locals would catch up and mingle after a winter of absence and a place around which summer vacations would revolve. As everyone has come to know it, “167” was his pride and joy. He had created a Nantucket staple, he knew it, and was proud of it. He loved his customers and they loved him. He would never let anyone walk out of there without feeling special, a true master in the art of hospitality.

After 20 years of running his fish market, he decided to retire and sell the business to his son Jesse, who had worked for his father during the summers and helped him run the business. Bill spent the quieter years of his life rediscovering what brought him to Nantucket in the first place. Clamming, scalloping, and fishing the South Shore and Great Point beaches with his son Jesse. His son's friends also loved spending time with him, listening to his stories, and going on adventures. He had hired many of them over the years and had a significant impact on their lives as young men. Later, he also developed a passion for philanthropy, spending many Christmases and Thanksgivings serving the homeless in Boston.

Bill was a Nantucketer, he loved the Island so very much. While walking through town after dinner at his favorite bar seat at Le Languedoc, he would inevitably run into more than a handful of friends, or customers, or both. He would exclaim “I love this place! I love Nantucket”. He was a fisherman, businessman, musician, cook, gambler, athlete, father & provider. We will miss him, Nantucket will miss him.

~ September 3rd, 1950 –– May 4th, 2023 ~

He was predeceased by his mother, Phyllis Stearns Cropley, his father Arthur G. Sandole, his brother Robert A.Sandoli and his sister Teri Dolan.

He is survived by his siblings, Phyllis Hibbard of Brookfield Ma and her husband Richard. Patricia Bacon of West Brookfield MA and her husband Stew, Deborah Greenslit of Marion, MA, Arthur Sandoli of Southbridge MA, Timothy Sandoli of Moriarty, NM, Robert Cropley of Boston, MA. He is survived by his son Jesse and his mother Jill.

Services for Bill Sandole will be held this Saturday, May 13th at 1 p.m. at the Congregational Church followed by a celebration of life party.

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