William Baker Rich, Jr., 92, passed away on the 29th of December, 2016, surrounded by his family and friends in Smithville, TX. Bill was raised in Warrensburg MO, an hour outside Kansas City MO. where his father worked as a manager at the local power company (MO P&L). William Rich Sr. was also the charter president of his local Rotary Club.
Bill was an Eagle Scout, Troop 400 in High School, completed the American Legion Missouri Boys State program in 1942 and enlisted in WWII at age 18 yrs after HS. Bill learned to fly a Piper Cub, worked that summer with the US Corps of Engineers building airstrips at Whiteman AF Base outside Warrensburg and enrolled in the local Community college (Central Missouri College) until he was called into service Dec 1942. He went to Sheppard's AF Base in Wichita Falls, TX for Basic Training. He then went to Radio Operator Training schools in Wisconsin & S.D. and was certified for High Frequency Radio, Radio Operator Mechanics & Air Traffic Control (including learning Morse Code). Bill then served in the Pacific Theatre with the Army Air Corps. at Clark Field, Luzon, Philippines. He worked in Air Traffic control at the base and flew as a radio operator in B-25 bombers to various islands, including Okinawa. Bill received the Asiatic Pacific Theater Ribbon, American Theater Ribbon, Good Conduct Ribbon, Victory Ribbon & Philippine Liberation Ribbon. His highest rank as active duty was Sergeant and he served until Feb 1946. Bill was in the first American troops to land in Japan as USAAF Technicians to take control of "Radio Tokyo" transmitters on the hills above Tokyo in Aug 1945, a week before Sept 2, 1945 when Japan signed the unconditional surrender aboard USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay with Gen MacArthur.
Upon returning to the US, Bill attended University of Missouri and studied Electrical Engineering, graduating with an EE degree in 1952. Bill was ROTC during college and was a 2nd Lieutenant when he was Honorably Discharged from the AF Reserves in 1957 after serving 4 months in the Korean War. He was hired by Mobil Oil Co. as an Electrical Engineer in the oil fields and was sent to Venezuela right after college. Bill met his first wife at the oil camps while she was visiting her parents. Her father worked for Mobil Oil Co. as a Pipeline Engineer. Both of Bill's two children were born in Venezuela at the oil camps. After 10 yrs with Mobil Oil Co., Bill moved to Kuwait & Saudi Arabia continuing to work for Oil companies and retired from ARAMCO in Saudi Arabia in the early 1980's as a Senior Project Engineer. Bill moved back to Warrensburg, remarried, built his retirement home and started a 2nd career with Whiteman AF Base (the same base he helped build at age 18 yrs) working as a Civilian Engineer for the AF base, which houses the B-2 Bombers flying missions to Afghanistan. He worked for an additional 20 yrs at the AF base, retiring 3 wks before his 80th birthday in Aug 2004. Bill enjoyed attending the Opera in KC, Mizzou football games and UCM Mule basketball games. He did volunteer work for BS Troop 400 and having been in the Boys State program in High School at Warrensburg, he was a supporter of the CMU programs.
Having out lived his wife, Bill relocated to central Texas to be near his daughter. He enjoyed attending Rotary Club functions, Church at Calvary Episcopal and numerous Veterans functions. In October 2013 Bill was flown to Washington DC by the Honor Flight group for a tour of all the War Memorials. He really enjoyed the trip and the respect WWII veterans have been shown with the impressive memorial. Bill was an active member of the Rotary Club of Bastrop County and Bastrop Calvary Episcopal Church.
He is preceded in death by his parents, William B. Rich, Sr. and Margaret (Harris) Rich; sister, Lyneve Rich Francis and husband Col. Sam Francis; nephews, Tim & Mark Francis and Bill wife Ladorna Highland Rich. He is survived by his son, Stephen Rich; daughter, Lisa Rich Beck Hunter and her husband Sun Down Hunter; grandson, Karl Beck and his wife Tara; great grandsons, William Beck, Henry Beck; grandchildren, Sundown West Hunter, Devlin Hunter, Lindsey Hunter; his first wife Marion Wier DeFord and niece, Carol Francis along with several extended family.
Visitation will be from 4:00pm to 6:00pm on Sunday, January 8th at Marrs-Jones-Newby Funeral Home in Bastrop. Funeral services will be at 4:00pm on Monday at Calvary Episcopal Church of Bastrop. Services will also be held for Bill in Warrensburg, Missouri on the 14th of January, 2017 at Sweeny-Phillips-Holdren Funeral Home in Warrensburg, Missouri. Interment will take place at Sunset Hill Cemetery in Warrensburg, MO.
Memorial donations may be offered in Bill's name to Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity, the American Legion and the Boy Scouts of America - Troop 400 in Warrensburg, MO. Bill's family wishes to thank Resolutions Hospice, Nurses Case Management, Care Family and everyone who offered Bill care and assistance.