Feb. 20, 1918-Sept.17, 2002
William Croft Bickel, World War II fighter-pilot, corporate and civic leader and beloved husband of Minnette Duffy Bickel died of viral encephalitis at Shadyside Hospital on September 17, 2002 at the age of 84. A native of Pittsburgh, Mr. Bickel was the son of Florence Croft and William Forman Bickel of Pittsburgh. He grew up in Fox Chapel, PA and attended Shadyside Academy. After graduating from Princeton University with a B.S. in Geology in 1939, he joined the Pure Oil Company as a roughneck geologist and scout. During World War II he served as a fighter-pilot with the United States Marine Corps, VF 111, Devildog Squadron, in the Pacific Theater. After surviving a mid-air collision and innumerable bombing missions flying a Corsair, he attained the rank of Major earning the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal and the Purple Heart. Mr. Bickel's courage earned permanent recognition in Soldiers and Sailers Memorial Hall, Pittsburgh.
In 1946 Mr. Bickel joined the Gulf Oil Corporation as an aviation sales representative in Boston. His distinguished career spanned 32 years in which he and his family lived in nine cities. His positions included Regional Vice President for Marketing in both the Southern Region, Atlanta and the Central Region, Tulsa. He served as Vice President, Legislative affairs, Washington, D.C.
Known for his civic involvement and leadership. Mr. Brickel served on numerous Boards of organizations in the cities in which he worked including the United Way, Community Chest, Tulsa University, Tulsa Opera, Tulsa Chamber. Central Atlanta Progress, Georgia Council on Economic Education and the Georgia Business and Industry Counsel. He served in leadership positions on the Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma Petroleum Councils and the American Petroleum Institute.
After retiring from Gulf, Mr. Bickel parlayed his love of the arts and music with his civic and corporate knowledge by serving as Managing Director of Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts for five years.
Mr. Bickel is survived by his loving wife of 55 years Minnette Duffy Bickel, nationally renowned portrait artist, his daughters Minnette Bickel Boesel married to Peter Marsh Boesel of Houston and Susan Bickel Scioli married to Nicola Nunzio Scioli of Wayland, Mass, his brother Harry Croft Bickel and wife Caroline Weeder Bickel of Chattanooga and his first cousin Eleanor Wilson Staniford of Locust Grove, Long Island. He is also survived by four grandchildren, Louise Forman Boesel, Minnette Wells Boesel, Felice William Scioli and Richard Rafaele Scioli and two cousins Harry Bickel Ecker and Charles Stanley Ecker.
Mr. Bickel served as an active Board Member of Shadyside Hospital, Shadyside Academy, Pittsburgh Opera, Pittsburgh Opera Theater and on the Vestry of Shadyside Presbyterian Church and St. Andrews by the Sea, Hyannis Port, Mass. An avid golfer and skier Mr. Bickel was a member of Fox Chapel Golf Club, Pittsburgh Golf Club, the HYP Club and the Hyannis Port Club, Hyannis Port, Mass.
Known for his charm, wit and affable personality Mr. Bickel was an inspiration to all who knew him.
Visitation Friday September 20, 2002 4-7pm H. SAMSON, INC. 537 N. Neville St., Pittsburgh, PA 15213. Funeral Services Saturday September 21, 2002 12 noon. Shadyside Presbyterian Church. Interment Private. In lieu of flowers, family requests memorial contributions be made to: Senior Care Institute, UPMC Shadyside Hospital 5200 Centre Ave., Pittsburgh PA 15232 or Shadyside Academy 400 S. Braddock Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15221
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Published in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Sept. 19 to Sept. 20, 2002