William P. Willoughby Jan. 28, 1920 - Oct. 15, 2010 On October 15, 2010, William Preston Willoughby left our world for the wild blue yonder. From his beginning in a home in rural Ahoskie, North Carolina devoid of electricity to an iPhone and the Internet, Bill embraced his 90 year existence wholeheartedly and without reservation. He did not amble through his life; he strode purposefully toward his next adventure always looking forward, never back. Those adventures included taking his first plane ride at age 14 with a barnstormer in an open cockpit Waco-F, joining the Navy at age 17, training to become a pilot, flying everything from a P-51 to a B-25 as an Army-Air Corps officer in World War II, working as a commercial airline pilot for 30 years with Slick Airways and Airlift International, and achieving success in a second career as a real estate broker. He made stops along the way to fall in love with Lake Tahoe, have a family, travel to every corner of the Earth, ski the Haute Route, hike Mt. Tallac, make perfect waterskiing beach starts and stops, enjoy some cheese and become beautifully enamored of wine. He plowed ahead, yet not by force, but with determined grace and gentlemanly aplomb. The world did not shape him, instead he shaped his world, molding his existence firmly, yet subtly, taking quiet and deserved pride in his choices. There were many "Bill-isms"--catch-phrases specifically his, spoken in a soft Southern drawl uniquely his own. They were oft-employed and have been oft-repeated by those who knew him. Of them all, one stands out in particular. "If you're waitin' for me, you're wastin' your time." While we'd happily wait for you for eternity, we understand there is no point. You've flown off to your next adventure, wholeheartedly and without reservation. We'll see you when we catch up. Don't drink all the wine. Celebrations of Bill's life will be held at the Lone Eagle Grille, Incline Village, Nevada on October 30th at 3:00pm and at the Vi (Classic Residence by Hyatt), Palo Alto, California on November 6th at 11:00 am. Please R.S.V.P. to email@example.com
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Published in San Francisco Chronicle from Oct. 29 to Oct. 31, 2010