Richard “Dick” Lee Willetts

Richard “Dick” Lee Willetts

Richard “Dick” Lee Willetts
December 5, 1926 – June 11, 2022
Albia, Iowa | Age 95
Served With Honor ~ United States Military Veteran

Richard “Dick” Lee Willetts, age 95, of Albia, IA, passed away on Saturday, June 11, 2022, at Centerville Specialty Care in Centerville, IA. Dick was born on December 5, 1926, in Albia to James Elbert and Eura Hazel (Campbell) Willetts.

Dick grew up attending school in Albia and graduated from the Albia High School. While still in high school, Dick passed his initial flying exam. He entered the Army Air Corps at the age of 18 and spent a year in occupation Germany as a crew chief on a P-51 Mustang.

Upon returning to the United States, Dick followed in his father’s footsteps working for the U.S. Postal Railway Mail Service and ended up in Chicago where he finally took his first flying lesson.

On August 14, 1949, he was united in marriage to Martha Jane Keeton in Albia and then returned home to Albia where he worked 37 ½ years with the postal rail service. Dick and Martha Jane shared 47 years of marriage prior to her passing on October 4, 1996.

Dick enjoyed being outdoors and could often be seen riding his bicycle. He and Martha Jane enjoyed traveling together and wintered in Florida. He loved to visit with others and often did so over morning coffee at Hardees. Flying was Dick’s true passion. In 1960, he bought the first of four airplanes, a Piper Cub. He would later buy a Globe Swift built in 1946, a Christian Eagle bi-plane and a Cessna. He gained numerous pilot’s licenses and flew commercially as a charter pilot. Dick also started an aerobatics business, doing hillbilly clown acts at air shows. At the age of 93, he was awarded the prestigious Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award for over 50 years of exemplary aviation by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Dick is survived by 2 nephews, James A. (& Marsha “Marti”) Willetts of Centerville, IA and David R. Willetts of Richfield, MN; 1 niece, Jennette A. (& Phillip) Robinson of Prior Lake, MN; 3 great nieces: Kristine J. Eyheralde of Centerville, IA, Beth A. Robinson of Minneapolis, MN, and Sarah L. (& Timothy) Johnson of St. Paul, MN; 1 great nephew, Michael J. (& Katja) Willetts of Urbandale, IA; and 7 great-great nieces: Katja (& Jake) Suther of Waukee, IA, Kethryn A. Eyheralde of Ramsey, MN, Emily A. Eyheralde, Samantha M. Sanders, and Madelyn M Sanders all of Centerville, IA, and Rowyn A. and Junia L. Johnson of St. Paul, MN. Dick is also survived by his aviation family and good friends.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Martha Jane; a son in infancy, Richard Bryan Willetts; his parents, James and Eura Willetts; 2 brothers, Kenneth Elbert Willetts and Billie Eugene Willetts; and a sister-in-law, Margaret J. Willetts.

Visitation will be held from 2:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 6, 2022, at the Tharp Funeral Home in Albia with Dick’s family present from 5:00 p.m.- 8:00 p.m. to greet family and friends.

Graveside services will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 7, 2022, at Oak View Cemetery in Albia with Tom Williamson officiating and military honors provided by the American Legion of Albia, Melrose and Lovilia.

Memorials have been established to the Shriner’s Hospitals for Children and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospitals in memory of Dick and Martha Jane’s infant son, Richard Bryan Willetts.

To send flowers or a memorial gift to the family of Richard “Dick” Lee Willetts please visit the Tharp Funeral Home Sympathy Store.

Posted by on Jun 12 2022. Filed under Obituaries. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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