Bill Ahlem was born in the small town of Hilmar in California. He would remain in this small farming community for his whole life except for the time he spent at UC Berkeley and UC Davis, from which he graduated in 1929.
Following his graduation he returned to Hilmar where he became very active in civic organizations. Bill served as president of the Turlock Rotary Club in 1968 and was awarded the Paul Harris Fellow Award by that organization. He was also active in the local school district, serving on the school board for 18 years and as a life member of the district PTA.
Bill's activities were not limited to local civic organizations. He was also active in the dairy industry, owning and operating a Jersey dairy until his son took over in the 1970's. His commitment to the industry reached beyond his Hilmar dairy. He was involved in an operation processing milk in the bay area from 1954 to 1973 and served as one of the founding board members of the Hatch Milling Company. In addition, Bill served as president of the Merced County Farm Bureau and on the state Farm Bureau board. He was also an active leader in local 4-H Clubs.
In 1978, Bill was named "Dairyman of the Year" by the Turlock Chamber of Commerce. His success was rooted in his experience and continuing involvement in the dairy industry and greater agricultural community. The Hilmar Times stated, "Ahlem's faith in the stability and success of the dairy industry comes from years of working with dairy herds and watching Hilmar progress from the days when '30 cows was a big herd' to today when herds of 300-600 are considered average". Today the home dairy milks 1000 cows.