Dedicated to the Preservation of the
U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Willis Rae “Greg” Beasley, Lt. Colonel, USAF (Retired)January 07, 1931 – Febuary 15, 2015
Lt. Col. Willis Rae “Greg” Beasley (Ret.) died Feb. 15, 2015 at his home south of Reno. He was 84.
He was born Jan. 7, 1931 to Jenny and John Y. Beasley of Franklin County, N.C.
He dreamed of flying planes from the time he was a child, and joined the U.S. Air Force in 1953. For 20 years, he piloted Air Force craft from helicopters to cargo jets, in both wartime and peace. He served a tour of duty in the Vietnam War and afterward supported the United States by flying cargo in and out of Southeast Asia and around the world.
His military awards and decorations included a Meritorious Service Medal.
He loved to tell the story that, while flying over Reno in the early 1960s, he looked down and thought, “that looks like a real nice place to live.”
When he retired from the Air Force in 1973, he moved his family to Reno and enjoyed the sunny Western lifestyle for the rest of his years. He had a second career in Nevada — in casino security — mostly at the Reno MGM Grand.
He met the love of his life, Ruth Elizabeth Fuchtman, on a ski trip in 1955; they married in 1956 and had four children, moving around the country with his Air Force assignments.
He led his family’s outdoor activities, marked by lots of camping, skiing and swimming. He was an expert skeet shooter and a passionate gun-rights advocate.
He was full of stories about potbellied stoves and stubborn mules around his boyhood home and the shenanigans he got into with his brothers Sam and Knox.
His love of technology never left him — he got a small drone for Christmas this year and quickly figured out how to fly it around the family kitchen.
Willis Rae Beasley is survived by his wife Ruth, son Gregory Young and daughter Yvonne Marie, along with many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by sons Paul West and Nathan Rae.
A private memorial service is pending. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made in his name to the Wounded Warriors Family Support or the Armed Forces Foundation.
In memory of our dad, next time you see a military plane fly over, please look up and think of the thrill of flying it through the sky. And wave, or better yet, salute.
Published in Reno Gazette-Journal on Feb. 22, 2015