COTTAGE GROVE -

William Gurney Walkington, age 83, passed away peacefully on Saturday, June 29, 2013.

He was born on Dec. 5, 1929, in Twin Falls, Idaho, the son of Lawrence and Ethlyn (Lindley) Walkington. William grew up in Hazelton, Idaho, on a potato farm. Recalling his childhood, Bill had fond memories of seeing planes circle overhead while on his grandpa’s knee and wondering how he could learn to fly. He had that chance while attending the University of Idaho – Moscow taking flying lessons while an undergraduate studying Agriculture Engineering.

He graduated in 1951, entering the U.S. Air Force as a second lieutenant upon graduation. He learned to fly fighter jets starting a love of flying that continued all his life. Bill loved to fly, learning first on T-38 trainers and P-51 Mustangs, and all the way through to the F-102's, "Delta Daggers." He served 10 months active service as a pilot in the Korean War.

He returned home to the U.S. and attended the UW–Madison as an electrical engineering student in 1955. Bill found the green hills of Wisconsin most attractive after the dusty deserts of Idaho. In 1956, his brother, Lindley, died suddenly followed that next year by his father. He had met and married his first wife, Martha, who predeceased him in 1957, leaving behind a daughter, Lynn Marie.

He then returned to his studies graduating with a BSEE (Electrical Engineering). In 1959, he joined the Wisconsin Air National Guard as a fighter pilot with the 115th Fighter Interceptor Group (176th FS) stationed at Truax Field in Madison. He retired from the Air Guard in 1989, as a Colonel after thirty years of service. In 1961, he met and married the love of his life, Patricia Kelley. She brought him much joy over the years as well as another child, son David, and another son, Michael. Married over 50 years, they celebrated a golden wedding anniversary joyfully with family and friends in 2011.

In his civilian life, he had worked for over 20 years as an Engineering manager for a local die-casting company, Madison Kipp Corporation. He was licensed as a Professional Engineer from the State of Wisconsin as well as being a Mensa qualified individual. Bill started his own company as a die-casting industry consultant heading Walkington Engineering for over 25 years. In 2008, he was recognized for his work by the North American Die Casting Association. Bill received the prestigious Doehler Award for his outstanding contribution to the advancement of the die casting industry.

He worked with many companies over the years and his work took him all over the globe. Bill worked in countries such as Australia, China, South America, Mexico, etc. He had opportunities to work with graduate engineering students from all over the world. His technical expertise was sought out by others in his field.

In later years, after his retirement from both die casting and the Air Guard, Bill enjoyed travels with family as well as involvement with local organizations. He loved swapping flying stories with other members of the Quiet Birdman group and also kept in close touch with his flying buddies from the Air Guard.

He had worked with the local theatre group, the Madison Theatre Guild, as a stage lighting manager for several productions. He even received an award for his work on stage with his wife, Pat.

Bill and Pat were active in supporting their church and also worked at the local St. Vincent’s Food Pantry. He was active in the local chapter of the American Parkinson’s Disease Association and served on their board as well as serving as their president.

Bill was a good man who was always willing to go the extra mile for those in need. He and his wife, Pat, enjoyed travels (twice) to Africa and the Far East including China, Europe, Australia, Hawaii, New Zealand, South America, etc. They had great fun and wonderful adventures together. Bill enjoyed visiting his grandchildren, Brian, Melody, and Angela in Florida and Texas over the years. He always made time for their interests and helped provide a role model for both his children and grandchildren, always listening to them and providing advice. He will be missed terribly.

Bill is survived by his wife, Patricia, of Cottage Grove; daughter, Lynn (Clayton) Bennett of Palm Bay, Fla.; son, Michael of Madison; son, David (Sandy) of Dallas, Texas; brother, James Walkington of Burley, Idaho; grandchildren, Brian Bennett of Palm Bay, Fla.; Melody and Angela Walkington of Dallas, Texas; sisters and brothers-in-law, Bob and Kae Wise of Florida, James and Sheila Voss of Madison, Steven Kelly of Madison; and many nieces and nephews.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at ST. BERNARD CATHOLIC CHURCH, 2450 Atwood Ave., Madison, at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 6, 2013. Burial will be at Resurrection Cemetery.

Visitation will be held at GUNDERSON EAST FUNERAL HOME, 5203 Monona Dr., Madison, from 4 until 7 p.m. on Friday, July 5, 2013, as well as one hour prior to services beginning at 9 a.m. at the church on Saturday.

Donations may be made to the Parkinson’s Association, c/o of St. Mary’s Hospital, 700 S. Park St., Madison, Air Force Aid Society, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Madison, or to the charity of your choice.

The family would like to give a special thanks to the caregivers at Oak Park Nursing Home. Through their wonderful care and friendship, they did make it feel like a "home" for Bill.

On-line condolences may be made at www.gundersonfh.com.

"Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings: Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds and done a hundred things you have dreamed of, wheeled and soared and swung high in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there, I’ve chased the shouting wind along and flung my eager craft through footless halls of air up, up, the long, delirious, burning blue. I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace where never lark or even eagle flew and while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod the high untrespassed sanctity of space put out my hand and touched the face of God." John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

Memorials:

Donations may be made to the Parkinson’s Association, c/o of St. Mary’s Hospital, 700 S. Park St., Madison, Air Force Aid Society, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Madison, or to the charity of your choice.

Visitation:
Visitation will be held at GUNDERSON EAST FUNERAL HOME, 5203 Monona Dr., Madison, from 4 until 7 p.m. on Friday, July 5, 2013, as well as one hour prior to services beginning at 9 a.m. at the church on Saturday.

Service:
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at ST. BERNARD CATHOLIC CHURCH, 2450 Atwood Ave., Madison, at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 6, 2013.

Cemetery:
Burial will be at Resurrection Cemetery.