libby was the son of a farmer, ora edward libby, and his wife, eva may libby (née rivers). in 1913 the family, including willard and his two brothers and two sisters, moved to an apple ranch north of san francisco. a tall youth who would eventually grow to six feet, three inches, willard developed his legendary strength by working on the farm. he attended elementary and high school in sebastopol, california. in high school he played tackle and was called wild bill, a nickname that followed him all his life.