Billy Ansel Heasley obituary photo
 
In Memory of

Billy Ansel Heasley

August 19, 1926 - November 24, 2016

Obituary


Billy Ansel Heasley passed away peacefully on Nov. 24, 2016, at Melech Hospice



House, Tampa, at the age of 90. He is preceded by his parents, W.R. and Mamie Heasley; four sisters, Velma McWilliams, Raye Mozelle Moralez, Doris Berry, and Carol Ann Heasley; and a



brother, Carl Heasley. He is survived by a sister, Melba Heasley, his son and daughter-in-law, William and Rose Heasley, and daughter and son-in-law, Lynn Heasley and Keith Brewster.



An Arkansas native, he grew up on a farm. As soon as he was of age, he followed his

Billy Ansel Heasley passed away peacefully on Nov. 24, 2016, at Melech Hospice



House, Tampa, at the age of 90. He is preceded by his parents, W.R. and Mamie Heasley; four sisters, Velma McWilliams, Raye Mozelle Moralez, Doris Berry, and Carol Ann Heasley; and a



brother, Carl Heasley. He is survived by a sister, Melba Heasley, his son and daughter-in-law, William and Rose Heasley, and daughter and son-in-law, Lynn Heasley and Keith Brewster.



An Arkansas native, he grew up on a farm. As soon as he was of age, he followed his



older brother into the US Navy in what turned out to be the closing days of WWII, serving on ships USS ANCON and USS Harry F. Bauer. He later used the GI Bill to



earn his associate degree from the University of Arkansas while enjoying his free time racing motorcycles on dirt tracks, tinkering with engines, and traveling with



buddies. When the Korean War began and he heard the US Air Force was looking for



pilots, he joined that branch of service under the promise if he passed pilot testing



they would put him through the rest of college. After that war, he was stationed



various places including several years at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, FL, where



he flew the B-47 Stratojet for the Strategic Air Command. In Tampa he also met his



bride-to-be, Carol Gunn, a Tampa native. On their honeymoon the two drove cross



country from Tampa to Seattle in an Austin Healey convertible towing a sailboat.



Once settled, he continued his Air Force duties while attending the University of



Washington for his bachelor’s in engineering. A strong believer in the importance of



education, he was the first in his family to complete college. In 1963 their son



William was born and a few years later they were stationed at Eglin Air Force Base,



where they welcomed their daughter Lynn. A skilled sailor, he competed in many



regattas while stationed there. During the Viet Nam War, he flew the O-1 BirdDog as



a forward air controller.



In 1970 he retired from a 20-year Air Force career at the rank of major, and the



family moved to Land O’ Lakes, FL, where Bill co-owned and was sole operator of



Atwood Boats for five years. After the business closed, he was a long-haul truck



owner/operator for a few years, until retiring for good and pursuing many ongoing



projects, including restoring a sailboat, constructing a steel hanger, and building an



ultralight airplane.



He also reconnected with his love of motorcycles and was the proud owner of a



brand-new Harley Davidson, which saw a lot of use and was one of only two vehicles



he ever bought new. A talented shade-tree mechanic, he always preferred spending



his free hours buying deals that turned into projects he continually worked on,



usually with his son by his side. In the late 1970s, he was an early adopter of home



computers. Throughout, he gifted his son with a priceless wealth of knowledge and



skills in vehicle and home repair, boating, tech aptitude, and the general art of cando



problem solving. That turned out to be a family trait, as among his daughter’s



favorite gifts as an adult are the many power tools he bought her and taught her to



use, from the jigsaw to the power drill to the compound-sliding miter saw they



picked out together.



As a parent, he gave his kids most necessities but few luxuries, believing strongly in



the character-building aspects of learning to do without and working for what you



have—a successful formula he honed first-hand as a child of the Depression, and



proudly practiced all his life.



Bill was a self-made man and a defining member of America’s Greatest Generation:



Proud to serve, proud to be self-reliant, and determined to be debt-free. He



defended America selflessly, loved his children deeply, and clung to his



independence unfailingly. He was our hero and we will miss him always.



A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016, at Blount & Curry



Terrace Oaks, Tampa. The family will receive friends a half hour prior to the service.



Donations may be made in Bill’s memory to the Carol Gunn Heasley Memorial



Scholarship (Fund 1690) at Pasco Hernando State College.



www.phsc.edu/foundation/donate