Colonel George William "Bill" Criss Jr.
Colonel George William "Bill" Criss Jr. passed away at home on Monday, November 26, 2012, in Stanardsville, Virginia. He was born in 1919, in Brooklyn, New York, to Lillian (Larkin) and George W. Criss Sr. Towards the end of his life, he was surrounded by family and friends, his daughter, Dr. Lee Crigler and husband, Ron, of Madison, Virginia; his son, Colonel Bill Criss III and his wife, Judy, of Woodbridge, Virginia; and a group of devoted caregivers, Heather Cook, Judy Eppard,Tracy Herndon, Tanya Lamb, Jessica Millis, Jessie Payne and Cheri Shifflett. Many of these sitters had lovingly cared for his wife, Kae Anne, prior to her passing two years ago. A life-long military man, Bill graduated from Peekskill Military Academy and then enlisted in the United States Navy. He won an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point where he was a star lacrosse player and his swimming records remained unbroken for over a decade. He was a member of the first West Point Class to have earned pilot wings in the Army Air Corps, but was denied his much anticipated senior year due to the urgent needs of war. He and Kae Anne were married at West Point the day following graduation and commissioning in January 1943. They had grown up as schoolmates in Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York. After bomber training in Washington State and Oklahoma -- where daughter, Lee was born -- Bill was then sent to the Pacific to fly, and later lead, B-29 missions. Following the war, Kae and Bill were stationed in Tampa, Florida, where son Bill III was born. The heat and bugs made them promise never to return; but they did. His United States Air Force peace-time assignments took the family to New York, Langley Air Force Base in Washington, D.C., Lima, Peru, Tennessee, the Canal Zone and Texas. He also logged hundreds of additional combat hours during the Korean and Viet Nam conflicts. Stories of his flying skill, leadership and bravery are many -- as are the memories of the couple's warmth, hospitality, dancing and support for scouting, military teenagers and many charities. His military decorations included the Legion of Merit (1 OLC), Distinguished Flying Cross (1 OLC) and the Air Medal (3 OLCs). After 33 years of military service, he and Kae toured the country and finally settled for the next 25 years in St. Petersburg, Florida (what a difference air conditioning makes). From there, for two decades, they made annual trips in their beloved motor home to visit friends and family. They were active in Florida retired military organizations, model airplane clubs and frequent visitors to the El Cap Pub. Due to medical issues, they moved north to Stanardsville in 2003, with Kae in the Evergreen Nursing Home and Bill in a cottage right across the street. They visited each other daily until her passing in early 2011. In addition to his daughter and son, he is survived by two grandchildren, Missy, husband, Jeff Hildebrand, and daughters, Riley and Madeline; and Bill IV, wife, Erin Criss, and daughters, Michaela and Hailey. A memorial service will be held at Grace Episcopal Church in Stanardsville at 4 p.m. on Saturday, January 12, 2013.
Colonel and Mrs. Criss' ashes will be interred at The United States Military Academy in West Point, New York.
This obituary was originally published in the Daily Progress.