William James Miles

William James Miles

(Ret. Col. USAF)

aka Wildman Willie, The Colonel

1923 ~ 2013

William James Miles' progressive outlook on life exhibited such curiosity, wit, and intelligence that chaplains admired him and waitresses swooned. He died peacefully on Wednesday, April 24 of natural causes. He was 89. Born and raised in Seattle, Bill graduated from St. John's grade school and Lincoln High School in 1941. He went on to earn a bachelor's degree in Business from the University of Washington and a Masters in Business Administration from Georgetown University.

As a boy he covered his walls with photos of Ginger Rogers, read comic books about WWI pilots, played with the neighborhood kids at Ross Playfield and called his mother by her first name. Following his dream of being a pilot, he graduated from Army Air Forces Pilot School in March of 1944. This was the beginning of his long and proud military career. During WWII he was stationed in Italy and flew P-38 missions over Eastern Europe. In 1948, he and his gregarious wife Madelyn met at the Cozy Corner Tavern on Whidbey Island and were married within two years. Bill was recalled to active duty during the Korean War and stationed in Japan with his wife and children. His military career also took him to Tacoma, Oklahoma, Alabama, and the Philippines/Viet Nam where he was Commander of the 29th tactical airlift squadron based at Clark Air Base, Philippines. The squadron operated from Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Viet Nam where he spent most of his time flying missions that involved personnel transport, equipment and supply airlift and airdrop, aeromedical evacuation and bombing missions. He was proud that none of his men perished.

"Those of us who served with and under him always felt that he enjoyed what he was doing and he enjoyed being associated with the rest of us......especially those of us who were subordinate to him. He trusted us to do our job as best we could and he didn't impose his personal policies or procedures on us - all he asked was to get the job done. Needless to say, we wanted to get the job done for him."

- H. Delbert "Tasty" Frieze

Bill was also stationed in Ohio, and did two tours of The Pentagon where he was Deputy Director of Personnel Programs, regularly presenting at Senate/House Defense sub-committee hearings. In 1975 he retired and moved the family back to the Northwest. He spent most of his days at the library reading political news, Rolling Stone Magazine, and checking out Tom Robbins' books and foreign films. His kids and their friends thought he was pretty cool and he was a great admirer of his grandchildren's antics and achievements. He was a very much loved husband, dad and (great) grandfather! Politically independent with Kennedy liberal leanings, he believed foremost in the common sense of compassion and human rights. His generous spirit is legendary among family and friends as is his practical thinking and quiet stoicism. In short, he was always there for you.

When Madelyn was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, he lovingly took care of her every need until he reluctantly accepted the fact that she needed to be in assisted living. Even then he was there with her at every meal, every day until her death. William was preceded in death by his parents Harry and Grace Van Well Miles, his wife of 57 years, Madelyn Baldwin, and his sisters and brother and their spouses Bette and Robert Murray, Mary and Guy Graham, and Harry and Florine Miles. His four children survive him: daughters Barbara Miles of Bothell, Sheila Breysse (Matt) of Bothell; Pattie Van Beuzekom ( Erik) of Chimacum and son Jay Miles (Theresa) of Bristow, VA. Also surviving are four grandchildren: Chris Miles (Susan), Matt Miles (Dana,) Sarah and Elizabeth Breysse and six great-grandchildren: Hope, Garrett, Cade, Josiah, Makhi, and Malik. He also leaves behind his brother-in-law and his wife, Bill and Bobbie Baldwin, and a rich assortment of nieces and nephews.

A Memorial will take place at Tahoma National Cemetery on June 25 at 10:45, where he and Madelyn will be placed together. A reception at Maplewood Golf Course in Renton will follow. Remembrances may be sent to the VA Puget Sound Fisher House, 1660 S. Columbian Way, Seattle, WA 98108.

Please sign William's guestbook online at www.bonneywatson.com

Published in The Seattle Times from May 18 to May 19, 2013