William Preston Willoughby

Published 11:08 am Friday, October 29, 2010

LAKE TAHOE, Nv. – 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 airplane 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 over 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 and usually laced with a hint of laughter. 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.

In addition to his daughters, he is survived by a sister, Martha Ann Willoughby, of West Palm Beach, Fla.

He was predeceased by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. George L. “Fate” Willoughby who made their home in Ahoskie.

Please join Bill’s daughters, Amber, Allyson & Elizabeth, for celebrations of Bill’s life at the Lone Eagle Grille, Incline Village, Nevada, on October 30, 2010 at 3:00 p.m., and at the Vi, Palo Alto, California, on November 6, 2010, at 11:00 a.m.