William Stanley Previtti, best known as ‘Billy’ Previtti was a dazzling New Mexico figure for decades. Born on June 9, 1927 in Waukegan, Illinois to Guiseppe Vincente Previti and Rosalie Bubblitz Previti, Bill passed away at home on November 29, 2021. (As a writer, Bill preferred the added ‘T’ in his surname and used it throughout his life.)
Bill Previtti was married to Bette Lynn Thomas for 70 years, having recently celebrated their anniversary on November 18. He is survived by beautiful wife Bette, daughters Antoinette Elizabeth Previtti, Michele Rose Hartung and Dina Jo Madruga; brother James Orlando Previti and wife Jody and sister Donna Lee Graham. A grandfather too, Bill delighted in inspiring his grandchildren Trever Daniel Hartung, Cale Matthew Hartung, Kaleena Raye Madruga and Ryder Day Madruga.
William Previtti served in the United States Army as well as the Merchant Marine during World War II, experiencing air attack aboard an aircraft carrier in the South Pacific and ultimately serving in communications, his exceptional skill recognized. He was a writer always, but his ability to connect and laugh with others would be a marker of his personality and life.
By 1953, Bill and Bette put down roots in Albuquerque and Bill most famously worked for KOAT radio and Channel 7, working as a disc jockey and then television host for “Bandstand’s Top Ten,” the first such broadcast in the state, introducing rock-and-roll hits accompanied by dancing teens. The popular program made Previtti a local personality and concert promoter, giving him the opportunity to meet musicians such as Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard among others. Bill’s legendary milkshake stroll with Elvis in 1956 was even chronicled in a film series at the Albuquerque Museum. By the early 1960s, Previtti had also performed in multiple productions for Albuquerque Little Theater and in 1967, Previtti became Press Secretary for New Mexico Governor David Cargo.
The Previtti family then relocated to San Diego for a time, where Previtti worked in television before accepting the position of Public Relations Director for Agua Caliente racetrack. Bill enjoyed his rural property there; as an avid animal-lover, he was able to home rescued dogs and retired racehorses, goats and rabbits, cats and ducks.
Returning to Albuquerque in the 1980s, Bill used his writing skill and charisma to work in newspaper, radio and television promotions for dozens of organizations. He founded Westland Communications, representing the New Mexico State Fair, the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, and casinos throughout the region just to name a few; Billy Previtti even provided the voice of cartoon “Wild Wilbur” for Western Wearhouse. Always energetic, Previtti worked into his 90s with his own radio hour on KIVA and whimsical writings in Prime Time magazine. His passion for New Mexico and Wild West history prompted his very recent work on a nearly-completed book about his favorite historical figure, Billy the Kid. Bill’s volunteer work for Veterans of Foreign Wars and New Mexico Shriners was also especially meaningful to him.
Throughout his long and interesting life, William S. “Billy” Previtti has been befriended and celebrated for his humor, creativity, vibrancy and charm. (And always mischievous, sparkling blue eyes!) Bill was a friend to many; his “Make ‘em Smile!” motto permeated all he did in professional as well as family life. He will be so missed.
Services to be announced; donations to Animal Humane New Mexico.
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