A quiet giant in California’s civic affairs passed away last weekend.

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 8.37.54 PMBill Hauck, 73, held many important positions. He was senior adviser to one (Republican) Governor and two (Democratic) Assembly speakers. He resurrected and for 15 years led the California Business Roundtable. For 20 years he served on the Board of Trustees of California State University. He chaired and served on innumerable public commissions and boards, built a wildly successful information services business. He was a devoted father and husband.

But while influential and impressive, these professional positions merely manifested Bill’s essential spirit: he was consistently, insistently a positive force for California public policy.

Bill didn’t care about party; he didn’t care about credit. He only cared about getting the job done.

Reagan biographer Lou Cannon took readers behind the scenes in his 2003 book Governor Reagan, setting the stage for the Governor’s second-term accomplishment reforming the California welfare system.

At this point in their careers, Moretti and Reagan were blessed with aides who were willing to tell them what they needed to know. Bill Hauck, the speaker’s thoughtful chief of staff, suggested to Moretti that he take the initiative. “This blasting back and forth has become debilitating to both of you,” Hauck said to Moretti one day in June when the prospects for legislative action looked particularly hopeless. On June 28, 1971, Hauck wrote and Moretti signed a letter to Reagan that proposed “that we set aside our personal and philosophical disagreements and work to assure the people that our state will prosper. As we have both said publicly on a number of occasions this year, if we do not act positively on at least a few of our major state issues the people of California will properly hold us all accountable.”

That letter broke the ice. Later that same day, after Bill and George Steffes, the Governor’s legislative secretary, set the stage, Reagan and Moretti met to begin hammering out a deal.

Two decades later, Bill was working for Governor Wilson – a Democrat with the utter confidence of the Republican Governor and his staff. The Governor had been struggling with balancing a state budget with a deficit – as a percentage of total revenues – still unmatched in the state’s postwar history. Among Bill’s assignments was to convince Democratic leadership in Washington DC to help offset some of California’s unique costs in incarcerating undocumented aliens. Bill’s strategy was characteristically him: he convinced then-Speaker (and his former boss) Willie Brown to join the Governor in making this request. With Brown on board this mission became about solving an intractable policy problem, not seeking partisan advantage. And the strategy worked.

I came to think of Bill as the “anti-cynic.” And it wasn’t only because he answered the call from innumerable civic improvement organizations: California Forward, Constitutional Revision Commission, California Performance Review Commission, Campaign for College Opportunity, Coro Foundation, not to mention his devotion to the institution that educated him, California State University.

After a particularly frustrating week fighting some long-forgotten political battle, I vented on Bill my exasperation with the entire California political establishment, declaiming a pox on all their houses, but not so nicely. He shot right back at me – “You can’t be cynical about this. If you’re cynical, then you’ve given up. And then you can’t keep working to improve this place.”

Bill’s credo was that individuals make a difference. By his example we know that to be true.