Bill St. John

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Obituary photo

William Bradford St. John
08 Aug 1916 - 13 May 2011

Clubs & Associations

Capital City Squares
Prime 8s

Quick Facts

  • Bill and Stan designed the original Prime 8s badge with the dangling monkey

Golden Boot Award

In 1993, Keith Snowdon presented Bill, Anna Damiani, and Stan Boyden with the Golden Boot Award.
In 1994, they presented the award to Bill Eyler and Luis Torres.

Medallion Dancer


Bill St. John passed away on May 13 at the age of 94. He and his late partner, Stan Boyden, met and committed to each other in 1950 in San Francisco. They became friends with many of those who founded the first gay-rights movements (the Mattachine Society, One, Daughters of Bilitus).

They retired to Mexico, remaining for ten years before moving to Texas, where they started square dancing - a hobby that became a life-long passion for them. Learning that Sacramento had gay square dancing, they moved here in the early 1980s and joined Capital City Squares, its advanced-dancing counter-part Prime-8s, and the TNTs, a straight club that teaches challenge moves. They were eventually elected co-presidents of the TNTs and, in this capacity, were instrumental in integrating the gay and straight square dance worlds. They attended numerous straight conventions, as well as every annual gay convention from 1983 to 2004, shortly before Stan passed away.

Bill leaves behind scores of friends in Sacramento, San Francisco, Mexico, and throughout the nation's square dance community. Per his request, no services will be held. In his honor, however, feel free to toast Bill and Stan's 55 years of delightful memories and influential activism. It is thru the kindly spirits of pioneers such as these that our society moves forward.[1]


It was a Friday night, May 6, 1950. Bill had been to a movie and was on his way home. Stan was on his way out to do "whatever" when on the corner of Clay and Jones Streets in San Francisco their eyes met, and the rest is history. After cruising around the block a couple of times Bill asked Stan to come to his place for a drink. They lived only about ten blocks apart and after spending several weekends together knew this was something special. They decided to end their respective roommate living situ ations and move in together.

After a year in San Francisco they decided to buy a home in Palo Alto and commute to work in San Francisco by train. After five years, they wanted to be closer to the city and bought a home in Mill Valley, just across the Golden Gate, where they lived for 15 years. Friends came visiting from Mexico and convinced them to retire and move to Mexico. So at the ages of 50 and 55 they retired (Stan from his job of 23 years in the Estimating Contract Dept. of a large manufacturing corporation, and Bill from his 22 years as a wholesale record distributor) and moved to Mexico.

After renting for a year or two in Cuernavaca and Taxco, they decided to build a home in Cuernavaca. After ten years in Mexico they became homesick for the U.S. and decided the easiest transition from Mexico to the U.S. was through Texas. They moved to Harlingen, about 35 miles from the Mexico border.

While in Harlingen they noticed a newspaper ad by a club called "Sunny Squares" for beginning square dance lessons. They went to the class and were welcomed with open arms by the single ladies of the club, and learned to dance Mainstream.

On a trip to California they were introduced to Capital City Squares in Sacramento and thought - "This is great-Gay Square Dancing" - something they had never heard of. So after a year and a half in Texas Bill and Stan moved to Sacramento and the world of Gay square dancing. Through the years they also danced with straight clubs learning Plus, Advanced and Challenge levels. Bill and Stan made their mark: after becoming Co-Presidents of TNT's (a straight club), they were instrumental in integrating gay and straight square dancers in Sacramento.

Then there was 1984 - ALL JOIN HANDS in Seattle. To them nothing has equaled the excitement and wonder of that first Convention. Now each year they look forward to those magical days of each Convention with their wonderful friends - Gay and Lesbian Square Dancers. Each year, they are asked to stand at the banquet. and tell us how many years they've shared together.

This year is very special, their 50th anniversary together.[2]

Memorial Panel



  1. The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, CA) Sunday, 29 May 2011, p.B7 col.2
  2. IAGSDC Convention Program (Baltimore), 2000, p.49