William Hiller


William L. Hiller was born Sept. 2, 1921. For the first 12 years of his life he lived with his family in central South Dakota and moved to the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1933. He married Lucille Roetzel on the Roetzel ranch near Custer, S.D., in April 1942.

In April 1944 he joined the Navy and was assigned to the Pacific Fleet. After returning to Custer he enlisted in the Army Air Corps at Rapid City Air Force Base in 1947. After serving in Korea he returned to Ellsworth Air Force Base in 1956 and worked on the B-36, transferring to Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, until he was assigned to Castle Air Force Base near Merced, Calif., where he remained from 1964 until his retirement from the Air Force in June 1966. For the next few years he worked for the sheet metal union in California.

After Bill fully retired he volunteered many hours at his church and at the new Castle Air Museum from 1989 to the day before his stroke in July 2018. Bill had encyclopedic knowledge and was relied on many at the museum in restoring airplanes and served as the restoration superintendent.

He and Lucille spent many years traveling in their RV and taking tours to Alaska, the Holy Land, Englad, Australia, New Zealand and Germany. They were regular summer visitors to their childhood homes in South Dakota and were faithful members of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Merced, which they helped build.

Bill was an avid sportsman and enjoyed life to its fullest enjoying good health until the last six months of his life.

Bill died Jan. 22, 2019. He was 97.

He is survived by his wife of 76 years, Lucille; son, Bill Jr. (Mary); daughter, Karen (Gary) Kelleher; sister, Elma DuChateau; seven grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; two great-great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Services were held Feb. 2 at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Merced, and interment was at San Joaquin National Cemetery Feb. 4.

Condolences may be sent to Lucille Hiller, 1522 E. Alexander Ave., Merced, CA 95340.