To any of you reading this, the family would welcome your comments. All of us experience the people in our lives differently, so your memories of Dad would be so interesting and fun for us to know abmout.
Dad was a Depression child. His father was a backwoods, unordained, Baptist minister who made money as a chiropractor. His mother worked often as a short-order cook. Needless to say, neither one was terribly well-educated, but somehow Dad knew his ticket out was an education. Strangely, one of his fondest childhood memories was being sent to the ditches of the fields they sometimes lived in, to cut asparagus. Asparagus remained one of his favorite treats all his life!
Dad, at the age of 17, decided to join the Navy so could go to college. The story I always heard was that his father wouldn't sign the papers for an underage kid to join the military, but his mother did. He soon transferred to the Marines (in those days, the only route to the Marines was through the Navy. None of that "The Few the Proud" stuff. They were the few, chosen from the creme de la creme). From there, he became a fighter pilot. It was while training in Beeville, Texas, that he met Mom. Family legend (confirmed by both) was that they met at the bottom of a swimming pool at the Officer's Club, when he dove in to accidentally meet the gorgeous brunette. Nothing happened for some time until they were set up on a blind date. He proposed, with what could possibly be the most romantic proposal ever. "So, Babe, how many tricycle motors are we going to have?" Fortunately, Mom got the reference, or the three tricycle motors they did have would have had no tricycles to motor! He was soon transferred to Kanehoe, Hawaii. As the story goes, he called Mom (long distance, on a lieutenant's salary in 1956) and told her he was sending her a plane ticket and the wedding was all arranged. Her father told her that he would pay for the return, if it didn't work out. Apparently, it did. My parents were married for 53 years.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Briggs N. “Buck” Willoughby, Maj. USMC (Ret) 1934-2009
Survived by his loving wife, Judy, daughter Cheryl (Robert Wolotira) and Julie (Karen Blejwas), son Briggs (Tina Perkins) and 3 grandchildren, Alena, Adam and Max. Son of Bernard and Myrtle.
Briggs’ early years were spent in Colorado. He left to join the Navy where he quickly rose to become a Marine Corps officer and pilot by the age of 21. Following his active duty career, he received a degree in Engineering from the University of Colorado.
Upon graduation he went to work for NASA as a mission controller for the Apollo program and was integral in the success of the moon landings. Briggs and his family later moved to Alaska where he had a successful career with the FAA.
Briggs had a passion for the outdoors, which he passed to his children. He had a special love for the sea and spent much of his happy retirement years with his wife on their boat. He was also a devoted family man and a generous member of his community, being deeply involved in the Lions Club, Oak Harbor Yacht club and other community organizations for many years.
A celebration of the grand adventure that was Briggs’ life will be held at the family home this Sunday, September 13 from 2-5 p.m. In lieu of flowers the family requests a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association or a chosen charity.