Captain Irving "Bill" Rich, who would have been 91 on March 8, 2013, passed away after a brief illness on March 4, 2013, at home.
Bill was born in Searsport, Maine, where his two surviving brothers, both World War II veterans, currently reside. After joining the Air Force in the early 1940s, Bill was stationed in Millville. During that time, he flew numerous combat missions in Europe during World War II and became a decorated P-47 Thunderbolt pilot with the 358th and the 56th Fighter Group. After his tenure in the war, he laid his roots down in Vineland and became a flight instructor with the Army Air Corps at the Millville Army Air Field. It was at this time he met the love of his life, Blanche Black (predeceased, March 9, 2011). Bill's passions included boating, golfing, fishing and most importantly, spending time with his beloved wife and children. Bill had many endeavors in life, including owning JEDMR Rich Construction Company, William Rich Auto Sales, Capitol Concrete Company, and he also served one term as the director of Streets and Roads for the city of Vineland. Perhaps one of his greatest achievements and passions was helping to establish the Millville Army Air Field Museum, where he served as the board chairman emeritus. Together, Bill and Blanche had three children; Bill Rich (predeceased, Oct. 19, 2003), John Rich (predeceased, Jan. 23, 2010) and Ruth Stenberg.
Bill is survived by his daughter, Ruth Stenberg and her husband Chuck of Vineland; and his five grandchildren, Bill Rich and his wife Lori of Philadelphia, Kelly Ann Marrero and her husband Ed of Vineland, Amy Stenberg of Vineland, Lauren Stenberg of Philadelphia and Sgt. Erik V. Stenberg, stationed in Colorado.
Funeral home visitations will be held on Sunday from 6 to 8 p.m. and Monday from 10 to 11 a.m. A funeral service will be held Monday at 11 a.m. from Rone Funeral Service, 1110 E. Chestnut Ave., Vineland. Interment will follow in Sacred Heart Cemetery, Vineland.
Arrangements are under the supervision of Rone Funeral Service, 1110 E. Chestnut Ave., Vineland.
Donations in memory of Bill can be made to: Millville Army Air Field Museum, 1 Leddon St., Millville, NJ 08332; Cumberland County SPCA, 1244 N. Delsea Drive, Vineland, NJ 08360; or to Lighthouse Hospice, 1040 N. Kings Highway, Cherry Hill, NJ 08034.
To send online condolences, please visit the "Book of Memories" Tribute/Condolence section on the funeral home website at www.ronefuneralservice.com.