Dedicated to the Preservation of the
U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
William “Bill” A. Werber, SSgt., USAF (Retired)December 18, 1948 – December 18, 2011
William “Bill” A. Werber passed from this earth December 18, 2011 on his 63rd birthday, in San Diego, CA. He died peacefully at the San Diego Hospice after a courageous battle with cancer. He resided in La Mesa, CA., with his wife, Nancy.
Bill was born in Riverside, CA., the second of four children to William A. Werber, Sr. (deceased) and Araline Werber who resides in Virginia Beach, VA. He, his parents, and siblings saw much of the world as they traveled with their father, an officer in the U.S. Air Force. The many lively stories from Bill’s childhood evoke adventure, risk and often injury, creating lessons that stood Bill in good stead throughout his life. Always an adventure seeker and wanting to “make a difference,” Bill joined the Air Force in 1967 and qualified for the elite Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service. He served consecutive tours as a pararescue jumper “PJ” in Vietnam from 1969 to 1971, earning many medals including multiple Air Medals, two Distinguished Flying Cross medals and a Purple Heart. He was a member of the 40th ARRS Buff Jolly Green Giants helicopter squadron. The “PJ” motto “That Others May Live” was so aptly suitable for Bill. Using his vast experience in parachuting, water rescue, ski rescue and survival, Bill spent his remaining seven years in the Air Force teaching these skills to other young recruits. His last duty station was in Anchorage, Alaska where his rescue duties included being a member of the rescue team for the Apollo space capsule recovery program. He retired as a Staff Sargent in 1976.
As Bill transitioned to civilian life, he pursued a brief career in the auto repair business before embarking on a career in commercial insurance. His passion was risk management, especially in large commercial enterprises. He became a Certified Risk Manager, developing programs to assess and reduce risk for his many clients. His clients appreciated his “Just Call Bill” mantra that gave them ready access to his talents, day or night. The many business owners and their employees who call him a good and trusted friend will sorely miss him. Bill shared his optimism with others the way most of us breathe. It was a natural reflex offered without exception to everyone he touched. And, while some measure their success in numbers, Bill measured his own success by the difference he made for others, every single day of his life. Many people will continue to cherish Bill and the difference he made in their lives, most of all his family. Bill was predeceased by his father, William Werber Sr., who taught Bill the value of optimism, freedom and discipline. Also left behind are his wife Nancy and mother Araline, Bill’s three siblings and spouses: sisters Anne and David Riley, Diane and Pat Hoye, brother Rich and Eileen Werber; step-children Kelly Lannom, Ryan Harrison and Craig Harrison and their spouses Ward, Maggie and Renee; grandchildren Mitchell, Wyatt, Danika, Reese, William, Sierra, Emily and Andria; sisters-in-law and spouses Kathy and Cub Beard; Deanna, and George Crozier; brothers-in-law Don, Rick and David Kennedy; numerous nieces and nephews; parents-in-law William and Libby Kennedy.
Nancy and family invite all of Bill’s friends and colleagues to a celebration of Bill’s life at a memorial service, 11:00 a.m. on January 12, 2012 at the Admiral Kidd Club, Naval Base Point Loma, 33050 Acoustic Ave., San Diego, CA. 92136.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Bill’s name to San Diego Hospice (sdhospice.org).
There are souls in this world who have the gift of finding the positive side to any situation and leaving that positive spirit behind when they go. Bill’s indomitable spirit will live on in the hearts of all of the people whose lives he touched.
Published in The San Diego Union Tribune on Jan. 8, 2012