Col. William Frederick G. Seith, USAF, Retired
Col. William Frederick G. Seith, USAF, Retired, was interred with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on April 23, 2014. He was born January 22, 1916, in Pleasantville, NJ. He died on December 4, 2013, at the home of his son in Biloxi, Mississippi, cared for by his family and Pinnacle Hospice.
In 1930, at the age of 14, he began attending the Shenandoah Valley Academy in New Market, Virginia. During that year, his family was severely affected by the Depression. An anonymous benefactor sponsored his return to the Academy, and starting that summer he began working to pay the rest of his school expenses, supporting himself, and gratefully contributing regularly to his parents' security - a commitment he continued until his mother's death at the age of 101.
While employed in Washington, DC, he studied both pre-med at Columbia Junior College and then law at National University. It was during this time that he began taking private flying lessons. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, three months before graduating from law school, he signed up for military service with the Army Air Force Flying Cadets.
On February 16, 1943, he both won his wings and married Emma Louise Butler, of Tacoma Park, MD. In September of 1944, they were delighted to welcome a son, William Frederick Geiter Seith, Jr.
After flight training, Col. Seith was retained as an instructor in B24s, ferried planes to England and the Pacific and had a brief combat tour in Japan - where he joined hundreds of B29s flying over Tokyo on VJ Day. Following the war, he joined the newly formed U.S. Air Force and then the Strategic Air Command (SAC). He was an exceptional pilot, and flew over 12,000 hours. In the 1951 SAC Annual Bombing and Navigation Competition, then Major Seith and his crew won "every individual honor in all fields of competition" - and spot promotions. After serving in and as the Director of Operations for the SAC Strategic Evaluation's Group, he was assigned as the Director of Operations for the newly formed 16th Air Force in Madrid Spain. Returning to the US, he served at the Pentagon and the Weapons System Evaluation Group and, in 1964, was named Base Commander at Lincoln Air Force Base, Nebraska .
After the unexpected death of his beloved Emmalou in 1965, Col. Seith requested a transition to command B52s, and was later named the 454th Wing Commander at Columbus, MS. In 1968, he married Claire French Wall of Tuscaloosa, AL and lovingly embraced her daughter (Sheila) and son (Greg). He was then reassigned as Chief of Staff for the Joint US Military Advisory Group in the Philippines, where they enjoyed their new life together. Upon returning to the U.S., he retired in 1972 to Pensacola, FL where he returned to college and completed his BA.
Col. Seith and Claire were active members of Christ Church. He enjoyed gardening, and always preferred adding a 'little bit of color'. He particularly loved the game of golf, and many years of playing with friends at Scenic Hills and the Pensacola Country Club. While he was a 'good' putter, his singular accomplishment was scoring an even dozen 'holes in one'. He and Claire led an active life into their 90s and for their last 5 years, were able to maintain a continued independence with care and support from staff and friends at The Veranda in Pensacola.
He was a gracious gentleman and a man of exceptional energy and enthusiasm. His inspiration is felt and his memory will forever be cherished by his surviving family: his stepson Gregory Keith Wall of Sarasota, FL; his son William F. G. Seith, Jr. (Judith McComb Seith) of Biloxi, MS; his granddaughters: Jennifer Louise Seith (Todd ) Souto of Cumming, GA, and Susannah Kathryn Seith (Ivan) Via of Fishersville, VA; his great-grandson William George Souto, and his great-granddaughter Anna Kathryn Via; and nieces and nephews.
Col. Seith was predeceased by his father Frederick William Geiter Seith; his mother Ella Fenton Miles Seith; sisters Betty Seith (Philip) DiNenno and Eleanor Seith; his wives Emmalou and Claire (August 16, 2013) and his step-daughter, Sheila Wall (Arthur)Barnes.
For his internment, he requested onlythat there be 22 yellow roses and 44 red roses to honor, with love and gratitude, his years with Emmalou and Claire respectively. He also requested that "TAPS" be played out of respect for the members of the US Air Force for their service and their mission.
RIEMANN FAMILY FUNERAL HOME, Three Rivers Rd., Gulfport served the family and an online guestbook may be signed at www.riemannfamily.com
Donations in his memory may be made to the Air Force Village in San Antonio, TX or to the charities of your choice.
Express your condolences in our guestbook at pnj.com/obits
Riemann Family Funeral Home
11280 Three Rivers Road Gulfport, MS 39503
Published in Pensacola News Journal on May 25, 2014