Tribute to Edio Defino from Lexi Boeger of Boeger Winery

by Placerville Newswire / Jan 25, 2017 / comments

Edio Delfino
Jan. 3, 1930 – Jan. 19, 2017

Larre Thomas Roseberry 1959-2017

Larre Thomas Roseberry , Cool, California 
September 18, 1959 - January 18, 2017 

Edio Delfino 1930-2017

Edio Delfino , Camino, California 
January 3, 1930 - January 19, 2017 

Edio Delfino used dynamite to clear his acreage before planting orchards.  Edio was the former Agricultural Commissioner of El Dorado County, the founder of the Delfino Family Farm Kids Inc., and was one of the four founding fathers of the Apple Hill Growers Association.  

Before his agricultural efforts he was a member of the United States Air Force. 

Arrangements under the direction of Chapel of the Pines, Placerville, CA.


On Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017, Edio Peter Delfino passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by his family. He was 87 years old. He was preceded in death by his wife of 60 years, Joan Christine Delfino, and is survived by his seven children, Michael, Joanie, Annette (Annie), Christopher, Marguerite (Margot), Mary and Edio Jr.; his brother-in-law, John Stich; his sister-in-law, Claire Delfino; 16 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

Edio was born on Jan. 3, 1930, in St. Helena, Calif. He was the third of four children born to Italian immigrants Frank and Dina Delfino. As a child and young adult he worked with his family on their small vineyard just outside of the town of St. Helena in the Napa Valley. His father worked as a night watchman for the mothball fleet in Vallejo, Calif., and farmed during the day with the help of his sons. He attended St. Helena Elementary School and St. Helena High School. He was a social young man and made many lifelong friends during his youth in the Napa Valley. While he enjoyed all sports, he was limited to playing football during high school due to his responsibilities on the family vineyard. He often told of his friend and working partner, Nick the mule. He and Nick plowed the vineyard all through his school years. He often lamented that Nick passed away when he was a senior in high school, so his younger brother was the first to use a tractor to work the vineyard.

After graduating from high school, Edio went to college at California Polytechnic University. For his first three years he attended at the San Dimas Campus. As a senior he transferred to the San Luis Obispo campus. While in college he worked as a campus garbage collector to help make ends meet until he graduated in 1950 with a degree in biological science. During his college years he also spent weekends and vacations with his roommate, Jack Stich, and his family. On these visits he got to know and eventually fell in love with Jack’s sister, Joan.

Edio joined the U.S. Air Force upon graduation from college. He and Joan Stich married on May 2, 1953, at Chanute Airforce Base in Rantoul, Ill. Edio completed his tour of active duty later that year, but remained in the Air Force Reserve until 1979, earning the rank of Lt. Col. After his tour of active duty he got a job with the Sonoma County Department of Agriculture and moved with his wife to Santa Rosa, Calif. While living in Santa Rosa the first four of their children were born.

In 1960 Edio was appointed County Agriculture Commissioner for El Dorado County and the Delfinos moved to the Sierra Nevada Foothills. At 33 years old, he was the youngest person to attain this appointment. Originally the family lived in Placerville, Calif., moving to the Camino, Calif., area and building a house there in 1962. Their remaining three children were born in the 1960s.

Edio came to El Dorado County when it was embroiled in an agricultural disaster. The choice Bartlett pears that were widely grown here at the time were being killed by a terrible bacterial disease known as pear decline. In short, farmers were in danger of losing their livelihoods. Apples were a secondary crop that was successful in the area, so they became the crop to replace the formerly dominant pears. Edio, along with then County Farm Advisor Dick Bethell, and area farmers Gene Bolster and Bob Tuck, put their heads together and after much trial and error decided that ranch marketing was the solution to the county’s agricultural dilemma. Thus Apple Hill was born. The first officially advertised Apple Hill event was “Apple Smorgy Days” and was held at El Dorado Orchards. The apple farmers’ wives produced apple baked goods which were sold to the public on overturned apple bins. The event was a huge success, drawing nearly 5,000 people. This event led to individual farms starting their own bake shops and the rest is history.

In 1972 Edio and Joan Delfino opened their own pie shop and apple business with Joan as the chief baker. Their seven children worked alongside them on their well known apple ranch, “Kids Inc.” The common sense, determination and work ethic of Edio along with Bolster, Bethell and Tuck led to the incredible success story known as Apple Hill. Apple Hill has grown from its original 16 ranches to 55 ranches and now includes Christmas tree growers, wineries, vineyards and a spa.

Edio served as El Dorado County’s Agriculture Commissioner for 33 years. During that time he also served as County Sealer of Weights and Measures and head of the Animal Control Department. In addition, he was in the Air Force Reserve for 26 years achieving the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and was recalled to active duty during the Cuban Missile Crisis. However, primarily he would describe himself as a farmer and an advocate of agriculture and the rural lifestyle. Both Edio and Joan were 4-H leaders, encouraging their seven children to learn the value of raising their own food and taking care of the land.

Edio was a larger than life individual. He wasn’t large in stature, but everyone knew when he walked into a room. He had a booming voice, a commanding presence and a will to make things happen. And when he was involved, they did. He was a visionary who helped save El Dorado County’s agricultural heritage. He has earned his rest. Picture him on a tractor riding into the sunset through his prized vineyard. At heart he was a simple farmer and happiest when doing just that.

A funeral mass will be held Friday, Jan. 27, 2017, at 11 a.m., vigil at 10:30 a.m., at St. Patrick Church, 3109 Sacramento Street in Placerville, followed by interment at St. Patrick Cemetery in Placerville. In lieu of flowers, the family request donations be made to Snowline Hospice or the Mother Theresa Maternity Home, P.O. Box 991, Placerville, CA 95667. Online condolences may be posted at





Delores Bircher Willms 1933-2017

Delores Bircher Willms passed away Jan. 10, 2017 in Placerville, Calif. where she had been in a nursing home for eight years.

Delores was born Jan. 15, 1933 and raised in Kanopolis, Kan. She was the first of a set of twins born to Janet and Oliver Bircher. She graduated from the first nursing school at Fort Hays State College with a degree in nursing.

She married Robert Willms from Geneseo and they lived in San Francisco, Calif. Delores and Bob were active in Eastern Star and took many trips with the group. They retired in Cameron Park, Calif.

She was preceded in death by her parents, husband, Robert Willms, and her brother, Leo Bircher.

Surviving family is her twin, Dorothy Bircher Morris (Roger), Shawnee, Kan; children, Mark (Joy) of Boston, Mass., Cheryl Latham of Sacramento, Calif., Janice Daley of San Francisco, and Greg Willms of Cameron Park. There are nine grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Jan. 28, 2017 at the Green Valley Mortuary, Cameron Park. A celebration of life will be held at Greg Willms.


Maria Rodriguez 1944-2017

Maria Rodriguez , Rescue, California 
November 13, 1944 - January 14, 2017