William Robert Schmidt was born on October 12th, 1924 in Buda, Illinois to Ernest and Minnie Schmidt. He graduated from Neponset High School with the class of 1942. Before graduating, a navy recruiter gave him a ride on a link trainer. He enlisted in the Navy V5 program on his 18th birthday. He received his wings on Dec. 6, 1944, and married his high school sweetheart, Shirley Pardue, on Dec. 18th, 1944.
Bill loved to fly. He and his family returned to Neponset after WWII with a promise of a job flying for Con Ed. That fell through and he joined the National Guard Medical Service Corp. so he could continue flying. His group was activated for the Korean War. He was on his way to Korea when his orders were cancelled, because he was selected to go to helicopter flight school. He was the first class of medical service personnel trained as a helicopter pilot.
When Bill was stationed at Fort Lewis and Madigan, he wanted to retire in this area. He and Shirley built their home in the Winlock/Toledo area and lived there for 15 years before moving to Chehalis where they started their ceramic business.
Bill is survived by his wife Shirley of 68 years, sons Steve and Mark (his wife Layna) and daughter Kay, and grandchildren Casey and Kendra (her husband Oliver).
He is also survived by his eldest sister Eva Mae Jackson and brothers Arnold and John and numerous nieces and nephews.