Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Bill's History

Gone But Not Forgotten

Bill.jpg Colonel William M. Wittress Jr., United States Air Force Academy Class of 1964, died November 5, 2007 at Valley Medical Center, Renton Wash., after a courageous seven-month battle with an extremely rare cancer.

Bill was a dedicated husband and father. His passing will be deeply grieved by his wife of 43 years, Jeanne. (Bill met Jeanne just four hours after she arrived at Colorado Women's College in Denver and they were married the day after Bill graduated from the Air Force Academy) He also leaves a daughter, Cristine Wittress of Issaquah, WA; a son, William Wittress III, his wife Kristi, and their son Matthew of North Bend, WA.

Bill was born in 1942 in Wilkinsburg, PA. He consistently excelled in both academics and athletics, and upon graduation from East McKeesport High School in Pennsylvania in 1960 he was awarded prestigious scholarships to both Brown and Cornell Universities. He chose an appointment to the Air Force Academy where he graduated in 1964. After graduation Bill attended Stanford University where he received an MBA in Engineering in 1966. A lifetime learner, he later received an MBA from Wright State University in Ohio and a Juris Doctor in Law from Seattle University.

For 23 years, Bill served his country with rapidly increasing responsibility. His career included the management of a team of engineers and scientists at the Boeing AFPRO office in Seattle, Wash. where the Inertial Upper Stage (IUS) system was built. This program, although extremely complex and technically advanced, was an unparalleled success. In 1984 Bill joined the Air Force-NASA joint project team as Director of Space Launch Planning. There he helped develop the national launch strategy for the 1990-1995 period. Later he worked with Martin Marietta to apply artificial intelligence models to the planning and launching of satellites aboard the Space Shuttle.

After retiring from the Air Force, Bill worked for Boeing Computer Services. He represented Boeing in Australia where he structured and wrote the financial implementation plan to build and maintain a national supercomputer network for Australia which integrated the industrial, academic and government sectors of the country.

In retirement Bill enjoyed vacationing in Hawaii with his family cruising, and was never without a book tucked under his arm. He loved living in the Seattle area where he led a full life with a strong commitment to his family friends, community and his beloved grandson. A Memorial was held November 12, 2007 at Fairwood Methodist Church. Three of his close friends and former 13' Squadron members participated in the service. Stories and memories of Bill written by his former Squadron classmates were read during the service. Airmen from McChord Air Force Base presented the American flag to Jeanne. Taps and a gun salute finished the service. Burial will be at Hawthorne Memorial Gardens in Grants Pass, Ore. and a plaque will be placed in his honor at the Tahoma National Cemetery.

Contributions may be made in Bill's name to the Lymphoma Research Foundation, 111 Broadway 19th Floor, New York, N.Y 10006.

(13th Squadron classmates David O'Brien and John Sowers; and Bill's wife, Jeanne Patterson Wittress, Gone But Not Forgotten, Checkpoints, December 2007)
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