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William H. “Bill” Kirkpatrick, 89, died July 25, 2008, at his home.
His memorial services will be at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the First Presbyterian Church, 1995 Fourth St. The Rev. Susan Barnes will officiate. There will reception afterward at the American Legion, Post No. 41, 2129 Second St.
Bill was born on June 7, 1919, to Chauncey and Elizabeth Jaehn Kirkpatrick. He was known to all as “Uncle Bill.” He was a 1938 Baker High School graduate.
Bill was attending the University of Oregon at Eugene in 1941, his senior year. The events of Dec. 7 caused the fast forwarding of his graduation. The nation needed reserve officers and Bill became a newly minted second lieutenant on Dec. 19, 1941.
Bill selected the Army Air Corps and started flight training at bases all over the United States. This training culminated in his assignment flying B-17 heavy bombers with the Eighth Air Forces 384 Bomb Groups at Grafton Underwood, England, during 1944.
Bill was by then promoted to captain and completed 31 combat missions with 115 hours of combat flying over Europe. He named his Boeing B-17 the “Dark Angel.” Bill was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal (three oak leaf clusters) and the European African Middle Eastern Service Medal (two Bronze stars).
In 1945, Bill was discharged early because he was selected by Pan American Airways for employment flying as a civilian in Asia and the Middle East. He was the 500th pilot hired by Pan Am when the war was over. Bill continued his career with Pan American Airways until his retirement in 1978.
Bill was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, the Eagles, the Elks Lodge and Delta Upsilon Fraternity at the University of Oregon.
Survivors include his sister-in-law, Anne Kirkpatrick of Baker City; nieces, Susan Lewis, and her husband, Brent, and daughter, Nicole, of La Grande; Kathy Kirkpatrick and her daughter, Ruth, of St. Petersburg, Fla.; nephew, John Kirkpatrick, and his wife, Jeanie, their daughter and son-in-law, Cara and Tim Snell, and son, Kevin Kirkpatrick; Dana and Kim Kutsch of Jefferson; niece, Elizabeth Kirkpatrick; nephew, Ryan Kirkpatrick; and nephew, Adam Kirkpatrick, and his wife, Kelsey.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his brother, Bruce; and his nephew Bill.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Parish Nurse Program of Baker City’s First Presbyterian Church through Coles Funeral Home, 1950 Place St., Baker City, OR 97814.
Used with permission from: Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, August 15, 2008
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor