William D. Gutheil

William D. Gutheil, 87, passed away peacefully on April 14, 2012 in Kirkland, Washington. He was born on February 27, 1925 in Amityville, New York.

“Bill” spent his early career in the Air Force with frequent assignments overseas. During an assignment to the UK in 1951, he met his future wife Jean at a New Years Eve Royal Air Force dance. Despite her higher rank (she was a flying officer in the RAF and he a Lieutenant in the USAF) they began to date. They were married in 1953 in Tucson, AZ. Military life required assignments to many interesting places such as Atwater, CA and Omaha, NE. Nonetheless, the excitement at home did not stop Bill from taking the family on frequent road trips that explored much of the United States. Bill’s role in the Air Force began as a navigator/bombardier and evolved to include work as a systems analyst for military computer systems. He was an early believer in computers and often said that computers would play increasingly important roles in the future. Always one to stress the importance of education, Bill completed his college degree in History from the University of Nebraska in 1966. His military service spanned from the end of WWII through the Korean Conflict.

After retiring from the Air Force in 1967, Bill moved his family to California (he loved the sun and the beach and remarked that life in California would be “one long vacation”) after accepting a job in the aerospace industry at Systems Development Corporation in Santa Monica. He eventually began a second career in aerospace consulting. Bill and Jean moved to Seattle, Washington in 1979 where he retired after a consulting stent at Boeing.

Following retirement, Bill spent much of his time as a docent at the Seattle Museum of Flight. He loved being around the aircraft and was fond of telling visitors about the history of flight and the “good ol’days” of flying. Being somewhat hard of hearing, he was known to start his tours by instructing the ladies that if he did not hear their question, they could easily get his attention by “kissing him on the cheek”. Failing health forced him to give up that position in 2008.

Bill is survived by his wife, Jean, their four children, Sally (Jon), John (Christine), Jeff (Suzanne) and Valerie (Johnny); his five grandchildren, Alex, Ethan, Gabriella, Derek, and Jacob; and his brother Roger (Nancy). He will be dearly missed.

A memorial service with full military honors will be held at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent, Washington. People wishing to attend should contact Jeffrey Gutheil at (425) 802-4448.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Seattle Museum of Flight.

2 Responses to “William D. Gutheil”

  • Will Winter says:

    Bill and I were docents at the Museum of Flight for about five years. I enjoyed his stories about airplanes and his experiences. I remember one story about getting into trouble for almost hitting the towing plane during gunnery practice. He was called before the pilot of the plane he almost hit and read the riot act. It turns out the guy before him had just fired off all his rounds in one very long burst causing the barrel of the gun to warp so that even though Bill was aiming at the target, the rounds were passing uncomfortably close to the towing plane.

    I enjoyed being a docent with Bill.

  • Jon McWhirter says:

    I’m married to Bill’s oldest daughter, Sally. Years before we were married, while Bill was no longer compos mentis, I was sitting alone with him outside the care center. No longer able to hear, I wrote for him on a tablet, “I love Sally.” Bill smiled.

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