Community comes together for family of late Italian restaurant owner

Small town Pahrump shows its true colors when two businesses competitors come together in a time of need.

William Depreta passed away on Feb. 9 at age 66 and was the longtime owner of Papa Willie’s Italian Eatery and a 23-year resident of Pahrump.

Upon hearing this, Mike Cappa, owner of another pizzeria and Italian food eatery, Big Dick’s Pizza, stepped in.

He is having a spaghetti dinner fundraiser in memory of Depreta today at his restaurant at Coyote Corner at 3971 E. Kellogg Road at 4 p.m. The cost is $10 and will include a salad and bread stick.

Cappa said all the proceeds will go to helping out Depreta’s widow, Theresa, with funeral costs.

“I know his daughter and son-in-law, Jennifer and Jessie, we all play pool together in a league,” Cappa said. “We decided to do this on our own. We wanted to help offset funeral costs. I met her father while selling pizza at the fall festival and he was a nice guy.”

A very thankful widow, Theresa Depreta was surprised to say the least.

“I was shocked and really appreciative,” Theresa Depreta said. “Everything will help out in the long run for he had no life insurance.”

She said she was really grateful for all those people that showed up at the memorial service on Feb. 18 and many of those that attended were customers.

“When he opened the restaurant, he came out of his shell,” she said. “My kids were surprised how many people came out. My husband treated everyone like family and he became the restaurant man I knew he could become. His grandchildren and children are his legacy. He was a family man and all his customers were his family.”

Many people have probably noticed that Papa Willie’s, at 921 S. Highway 160 remains closed. As far as Papa Willie’s reopening, Theresa Depreta is still unsure whether or not she will reopen.

“It is still too soon,” she said. “My kids want me to open it, but right now I feel it won’t be the same without papa.”

She said she has no problem preparing the dishes herself. Her husband had taught her how to do all the sauces.

“Perhaps I can train the kids to reopen the restaurant,” Theresa Depreta said. “But it just won’t be the same.”

Chris Su, the owner of Java Junkies, is putting on a car wash fundraiser for the family next week on Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Contact reporter Vern Hee at

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