William J. “Bill” Purdy, 80, of Englewood, Fla., went home to be with his Heavenly Father, Friday, April 18, 2014.
He was born March 26, 1934, in Swartz Creek, Mich., to Joe and Olive Purdy.
Bill was married 55 years to Betty, his loving wife and caregiver. He graduated from Adrian High School in Adrian, Mo., where he and his family raised Hereford cattle on their family farm. After high school, he attended The Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa, Okla. While at The Spartan School, he earned a mechanic’s certificate, as well as a private pilot’s license. He later enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, and was stationed at Mac Dill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., where he met and married Betty.
After Bill’s service in the Air Force, he went on to a distinguished career with the Federal Aviation Administration. Rising through the ranks from air traffic controller to data systems specialist, he was a key contributor to the development, deployment and integration of the FAA’s National Airspace System (NAS), which replaced aging systems and processes with modern equipment and procedures. Bill’s experience and knowledge, combined with his natural ability to train others on the new systems, were critical to the success of the program. Retiring after more than 30 years of service with the FAA, he continued his service to the FAA through IBM, Loral and Lockheed-Martin, in support of the NAS. Even now, millions of travelers traveling to, from or within the United States each day continue to benefit from the valuable knowledge and experience Bill brought to this project.
During his career, Bill and Betty lived and traveled across the U.S. — from Kansas, to Texas, to Florida, then Maryland. The majority of their time was spent in Florida, where they were longtime residents of Pembroke Pines. While there, Bill was an active member of Pembroke Road Baptist Church, and held leadership positions as a church deacon and as the president of Pembroke Christian Academy’s Parent-Teacher Fellowship.
After his second retirement, he and Betty spent time at their homes in Englewood, and Blue Ridge, Ga. He was a member of the First Baptist Church of both cities. Bill was an avid model railroader and train enthusiast, and also served as a Conductor and car-host on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway in Blue Ridge. He and Betty continued traveling after retirement, taking advantage of the available time to enjoy cruises ranging from The Panama Canal to the glaciers of Alaska. And, of course, Bill was a devoted fan of all things Disney, and made several trips a year to his beloved Walt Disney World.
Bill was a devoted and loving father to Paul (Nancy), Glenn (Patti) and Donald; a grandfather to Braden, Dalton (Alex), Erin, Mariah, Johnathon, Carson and Christian; he was a dedicated older brother to Virginia (Ted) Zellmer and Dorothy (David) Norman; and he was blessed to have many good friends who were part of his life.
Interment will be held at 1:30 p.m. Monday, May 19, 2014, at Sarasota National Cemetery in Sarasota, Fla. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider making a donation in honor of Bill to the Fannin Christian Learning Center in Blue Ridge, or to the charity of your choosing. You may express your condolences to the family at www.lemonbayfh.com.
Arrangements are by Lemon Bay Funeral Home and Cremation Services.