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Billy Gray Abercrombie, 80, of Cocoa Beach, FL passed away on January 24 at the Vitas Hospice Care on Merrirt Island, FL. He was born at Halifax Hospital in Daytona Beach. He attended South Ridgewood elementary school and as a youngster during World War II, served as a volunteer airplane spotter for the Aircraft Warning Service which had a lookout tower located on City Island. After graduating from Mainland High School in 1948, he attended Stetson University for one year. He then joined the US Army during the Korean War becoming a Sergeant as an instructor in Radio and Electronics. After his Army service he attended the University of Florida where he graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He moved to Cocoa Beach and worked for the Northrop Corporation on two early guided missile programs at Cape Canaveral. He then joined the General Electric Company as an engineer on the guidance system used for the Atlas ICBM. He later worked on missile programs used on nuclear submarines. After retirement he bought a house in Otto, NC, where each year he would spend the summer and return to his home in Cocoa Beach for the winter. For many years he was a volunteer driver for "Meals on Wheels" in both Cocoa Beach and in the Otto, NC area. He was a volunteer at the Friends of the Library in Cocoa Beach. He was a member of the Halifax Historical Society in Daytona Beach. During his youth, his hobby was building and flying model airplanes and repairing radios. Later in life his hobbies were woodworking, reading, hiking and back-packing in the NC Mountains. He made generous donations to many worthwhile charities and non-profit organizations. He was a lifelong bachelor and his only surviving relatives are two distant cousins: David Gray and George McClure who both reside in Otto, NC. His wish was to be cremated. Donations may be made in his memory to Vitas Hospice Care, 1100 S. Courtney Parkway, Merritt Island, FL 32952.
Published in Daytona Beach News-Journal on Jan. 27, 2011