William D. Varanese

October 3, 1923June 30, 2018
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William D. (Bill) Varanese Sr., Fall River passed away at the age of 94 on June 30, 2018 in the company of his family. He was the husband of Shirley Marie (Dowd) Varanese.

Bill was born in Fall River on October 3, 1923, the 10th child of the late Domenico and Angelarosa (DeMarco) Varanese. Siblings are: Annie Helen Kirkpatrick (“Helen”) surviving of Braintree, MA and deceased Francesco Varanese (“Jazzer”), John Varanese (“Jack”), Antonio John Varanese (“Tony”), Louis Varanese (“Chet”), Christina Agnes Conforti (“Chris”), Maria Pasquale Calandra (“Yuchie”), Rose Marie Gardner (“Rose”), and Pasquale William Varanese (“Pat”).

He grew up in the Italian neighborhood surrounding Columbus Park where he was a communicant of the Holy Rosary parish. As an altar boy for the Parish he completed several devotions of Nine First Fridays. He graduated from BMC Durfee High School with the class of 1941. A member of the BMC Durfee baseball team he also played for Holy Rosary in the Church League.

Mr. Varanese served his country honorably in the Navy during WWII as Gunners Mate 2nd Class aboard the USS Achernar (AKA 53). He survived an attack on the ship off of Okinawa in 1944 that killed 6 and wounded 41 fellow crewman. He along with the remaining crew managed to keep the ship operational to support the mission.

Following the war, Bill returned to Fall River and worked with his brother Frank on a soda truck as well as several other jobs before joining Firestone Tire & Rubber Company as a Security Guard. Just before the demise of Firestone he became a Correctional Officer for State of Massachusetts where he served at Walpole and Bridgewater, retiring at the rank of Lieutenant in 1988 after 30 years of service to the State. Bill also started a Driving School in 1956 with his brother Pat. Within a few years he became the sole owner and operator of Bill’s Auto School until he was joined by his wife Shirley in the business. Over the course of 50 years, Bill’s Auto School became a staple of the driving school business in Fall River. Bill & Shirley became well known as “Mr. Bill” and “Mrs. Bill” promoting the driving school’s memorable motto of “Bill’s Drivers Drive Right”. Mr. Bill taught over 3000 students, most of whom were seeking their drivers’ license at 16 years old and the associated freedom of the road.

Bill and Shirley were married on October 9, 1948 and together they raised seven children of the Baby Boomer generation. The couple were looking forward to their 70th wedding anniversary this year. They have six surviving children: William Daniel Varanese of Fountain Hills, AZ; Judith Ellen Folster of Simi Valley, CA; JoAnn Marie D’Antuono of Naples FL; June Angela Stankiewicz of Westport, MA; John William (Chet) Varanese of Fall River, MA and Angela Rose Busath of Orem, UT. Bill is preceded in passing by daughter Janet Christine Valcourt formerly of Tiverton, RI. Mr. and Mrs. Bill have been blessed with 16 grandchildren and 8+ Great Grandchildren.

The Waring-Sullivan Home of Memorial Tribute, 178 Winter Street, Fall River will host calling hours on Friday, July 6, from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM and the funeral service on Saturday, July 7, at 9:00 AM. The funeral service will be followed by a Catholic Mass at 10:00 AM at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Church, 120 Beattie Street, Fall River. The interment with Military Honors will be at St Patrick’s Cemetery, 2233 Robeson St, Fall River. All Friends and relatives are invited to attend.

Flowers are respectfully discouraged. Donations to family or to National Hospice Foundation at will be graciously accepted.


  • Visitation Friday, July 6, 2018
  • Funeral Mass Saturday, July 7, 2018
  • Burial Saturday, July 7, 2018

William D. Varanese

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Frances Tyrrell

July 5, 2018

Shirley & June, I express my sincere sympathy on the passing of Mr. Bill. My sister Ann marie also asked me to extend her sympathy as well, she is vacationing in California. My memories extend back over 50+ years from driving school experiences, to Anthony,s days at the child development program, and as fellow parishioners at Ss PP. May many happy memories sustain you as you deal with a great loss. God bless Fran

Robert Therriault

July 5, 2018

So many, many years ago. thanks for the lessons in the red Mustang. I have fond memories of your family. Rest in Peace Bill.

Chuck Raposa

July 4, 2018

Mr. Bill
To a great family man and a man I always respected. Thank you for memories. I will always remember you and your lovely wife ( Mrs. Bill ).
May you Rest In Peace and one day may we meet again.. Until....

Stephen K Barreto Sr

July 4, 2018

So sorry for your loss. Bill was a great guy and he will be missed by many. My deepest condolences to you all