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Willhart Pages (2)
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June 8, 1921 - March 5, 2013
Ray Willhart, 91 of Vacaville, passed away on March 5, after a short illness. Jan, his loving wife of 69 years was at his side.
Ray was born June 8, 1921, the only child of Myrtle and Raymond J Willhart, and raised in Los Angeles, CA. His dream of going to
and playing on the Hand Ball team came true in 1940. Two years later
interrupted his education, when he enlisted with the
and moved to Northern Calif. for pilot training. Upon earning his wings, he was given the opportunity to train for a new program with the Navy Airships, "Blimps". While training, he met his future bride, Margaret Janet French, "Jan". They were married in Nov. 1943 in Los Altos, Calif.
Ray commanded Airships while protecting the Pacific Coast from enemy submarines. He was later ordered to Ft. Lauderdale, FL to protect convoys flying over the Atlantic to Europe. He was one of a group of commanders to successfully land his large Airship on an ocean carrier; a practice that was later abandoned due to the hazards involved of landing on the rough seas.
WWII ended and Ray retired as a LT from the Navy. He and Jan returned to Los Angeles where in June 1947 Ray graduated from UCLA holding their first-born daughter, Diane. His accounting major never held its appeal to that of his love of cars and sales; so he switched from accounting and worked for a Studebaker dealership as a salesman. He and Jan were active members of the Westwood Presbyterian Church and its Lamplighter Group, as well as the Jonathon Beach Club in Santa Monica, Calif. In May 1952 their second daughter, Marilyn was born.
Ray moved his family to Vacaville in 1958 when he read an ad for an auto sales manager. Upon arriving, they purchased a ranch house built in 1864, "Vagabond Ranch", and embarked on their 44-year passion of renovating their home. The family joined the Vacaville Presbyterian Church-then a historic old church in downtown Vacaville. Ray served as an Elder and was on the building committee for a new church on Hemlock St.
Ray started his own business, Willhart Motors in Fairfield, Calif. This started Ray's association with Fairfield-Suisun
. He served as president and was awarded a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International. He and Jan enjoyed traveling and often attended local Rotary meetings around the world. He joined the Fairfield - Suisun Chamber of Commerce and served a year as the Military Chairman for Travis Air Force Base. Ray was also a member of the Mountain View Masonic Lodge and in 1994 received his 50-year pin. Upon his semi-retirement, Ray became a realtor and worked with Gateway Realty in Vacaville where he finally ended his working career at age 80. He and Jan purchased a home in Leisure Town and continued their community interests and lasting friendships.
Along with their love of traveling, Ray and Jan were active members of Green Valley Country Club for 46 years and enjoyed their friends and afternoon Sunday golf together.
Ray is survived by his beloved wife, Jan; daughters, Diane Cuniberti (Dennis) and Marilyn Everly (Michael); grandchildren, Karrie Sheehan Rawdon, Patrick Sheehan, Vanessa Everly Benson (Mathew) and Erin Everly; great-granddaughters, Alicia and Keira Rawdon and Clara Benson.
A memorial service will be held at the Vacaville Community Presbyterian Church, 425 Hemlock St., on Friday, April 5, at 1:30 p.m. Donations may be made to the church or a
Funeral Arrangements by Vaca Hills Chapel Funeral Home 707-446-3233.
Published in The Reporter on Mar. 27, 2013
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