William J. Pesce II, a Sacramento native who was a prosecutor for the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office for 33 years, died Dec. 23 of a heart attack at home, his wife said. He was 74.
Mr. Pesce, who oversaw the juvenile division for many years and retired as a supervising deputy district attorney, rose from working-class roots in East Sacramento’s Italian American neighborhood.
His father, William, was one of three siblings whose Pesce Brothers Construction Co. worked on St. Mary’s Church on 58th Street and built many nearby homes after World War II. His mother, Helen, belonged to the Geremia family, another prominent local builder.
Born in 1940, Mr. Pesce graduated from Sacramento High School and UC Berkeley. He earned a law degree from Boalt Hall at UC Berkeley, enlisted in the Army during the Vietnam War and was sent as a lieutenant to South Korea.
He served as a legal adviser in military intelligence during two flashpoints of the Cold War: North Korea’s seizure of the USS Pueblo in 1968 and downing of an American EC-121 reconnaissance plane in 1969.
“He didn’t talk about it,” his cousin Jerilyn Inglis said. “He talked more about the kimchi. He loved food, but he didn’t like kimchi.”
Mr. Pesce returned to Sacramento and joined the District Attorney’s Office in 1969. In addition to supervising juvenile cases, he prosecuted criminals and oversaw the misdemeanor and intake divisions.
He met another prosecutor, Elaine Dipietro. They married in 1976, and she transferred to the Sacramento County Counsel’s Office, where she retired seven years ago as a deputy county counsel.
He was active in the Sacramento Kiwanis Club for many years and lived with his wife in Carmichael.
Mr. Pesce is survived by his wife of 38 years. A funeral is set for 10:30 a.m. Saturday at W.F. Gormley & Sons, 2015 Capitol Ave., Sacramento.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made payable to the UC Berkeley Boalt Hall Fund, the Sacramento SPCA or any charity.
Call The Bee’s Robert D. Dávila, (916) 321-1077. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Davila.