William (Bunny) Walter Wilson, DFC, of Sidney, B.C., passed away peacefully at 92 years old on Saturday, Dec 18, 2010 at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital Extended Care Unit. Bill’s mother, Phyllis Ann Wilson (nee Rasmussen), early in his rural Australian home coached him to be a “sunbeam,” and so he was to all who met him in every corner of the world.
Bill was born on April 9, 1918 at Rochester, Victoria, Australia. He was originally named Ernest George Wilson until his father, Nathaniel Alexander Wilson, quickly announced, “We’ll call him Bill.” He was a studious child, and the only one in the district who could ride a horse and read a book at the same time. A state (Victoria, Australia) spelling bee champ, Bill vied back and forth with another boy for top of the class. He lost his Mum at the tender age of 14.
Bill is survived by his lifelong companion and wife, Mildred (Judy) Phyllis Wilson (nee Reed), whom he met while in Edmonton as part of the Empire Air Training Scheme. He married Judy in Medicine Hat in 1941, prior to being sent to the United Kingdom for active duty. Bill was a commissioned officer in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and received the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) on Hampdens (RAAF 455 Squadron) after a tour in the Russian theatre of World War II.
His wife, Judy, courageously worked her passage to Australia as a ship’s nurse while sailing under wartime blackout conditions, and met up with Bill when he returned to a South Pacific posting. They made Sydney, Australia their family home while Bill, after a short time as an import-export broker, returned to flying as a navigator for Ansett, B.C.P.A., and, ultimately, QANTAS. Professionally, Bill became the Chairman of the International Airlines Navigators’ Council (IANC) in 1958 and attended the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization (UN ICAO) Conference. In the latter part of his aviation career, Bill enjoyed postings to England while working for QANTAS.
Bill is survived by his three children, Julie, Peter, and Michael, and his three grandchildren, Sarah, Mitchell, and Craig. All were present very near the time of his passing and had the opportunity to say goodbye. All family members would like to extend their deepest appreciation to the staff at the Saanich Peninsula Extended Care Unit for making Bill so comfortable during his last few years.
In his retirement on Vancouver Island (Canada), Bill enjoyed sailing, fishing, beach combing, wine making, and reading. Bill was also a Life Member of the Central Saanich Lions Club.
Bill’s sunbeam lives on through his many sayings, especially his favourite: “What’s not to be happy about?”