The End of a Turkey Legend

Well, it is Thanksgiving Month so of course my blog will be about turkeys.  But it won’t be filled with all sorts of facts, figures and antidotes or how many turkeys I will sell this year.  My blog is in memory of a turkey legend and a friend of mine—Willie Benedetti. Willie passed away last month at much too young an age.

For many of you reading this, you have been enjoying his Willie Bird turkeys every year at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  He was a pioneer and truly the first to grow real “free range” turkeys. That’s just the way he did it.

When Willie was a boy, he grew some turkeys for a 4H project. One day he brought a bird into his mother’s hair salon and one of the regular patrons proclaimed—“there is Willie with his Willie Bird.”  The name stuck, and he went on to be one of the most successful turkey growers and ranchers in Northern California.

I have been his Southern California distributor for many years.  We have shared many a meal, drink, and yes–even an occasional cigar.  We didn’t talk a lot during the course of the year but when turkey time came around—-I could always expect that call from Willie himself telling me all about the upcoming turkey flock and what to expect.

He didn’t have a chance to call me this year as he passed suddenly.  I am sad we didn’t have that last chance to “talk turkey.”  I am hopeful that the Willie Bird tradition continues —but it will never be the same without Willie.  Good-bye Willie and enjoy that big turkey ranch in the sky.

And to all of you reading this—Happy Thanksgiving!!


CEO, Rogers Poultry

George Saffarrans