Bill started life on December 20, 1937 in a small farmhouse, the son of the late Henry and Blanch Mahler. He had two brothers; George and Henry; two sisters; Josephine and Selma, and a very special Uncle, Edwin. He graduated from Randolph Henry High School in 1956. He graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1960 with a degree in Electrical Engineering and a commission in the Air Force. An incredibly special person, Margaret Milton, his high school science teacher, provided him with the financial means to attend college. While at Virginia Tech, he was a member of the elite drill team, the Pershing Rifles and a member of the honorary military organization of the Arnold Air Society and Scabbard and Blade.
Bill entered the Air Force and pilot training in April 1961 and graduated in May 1962. In December 1960, he met the love of his life, Patricia Southworth; and they married in June 1961. They had two wonderful children, Ken and Kathy. They were one of Bill’s greatest joys in his life and both excelled in school and life. Ken married Debbie Wainwright and has three children, Danielle, Rachel and Bryce. Kathy married Scott Howard and has two children, Derek and Devin. Bill’s grandchildren are his special gifts in life and have been thoroughly enjoyed.
Bill spent 21 years in the Air Force, flying over 5000 hours in trainers and fighters, including the T-33, T-28, T-38, F-4, F-5, and A-7. Of the 21 years he served, two years were with the US Navy on exchange duty. He flew A-7s off the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk during his combat tour in Vietnam. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with five silver oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation medal with two silver oak leaf clusters, Meritorious Service Medal with one bronze oak leaf cluster, Navy Unit Citation, Meritorious Unit Citation and Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Gold Star, and Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with one bronze oak leaf cluster.
After retiring from the Air Force, Bill worked in industry (BDM Corporation and Raytheon) for 21 years until his final retirement in 2003. After retirement, Bill enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren, reading, fishing, tending to his yard and flowers and doing numerous woodworking projects. He is predeceased by his parents, a brother and a sister. He leaves behind his wonderful wife of 59 years, two beautiful children and five wonderful grandchildren.
Arrangements are being handled by Claytor Rollins Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to Tabernacle United Methodist Church in Poquoson, or to Poquoson Volunteer Rescue Squad.
A graveside service will be held on Friday, May 8th in the Parklawn Memorial Park for immediate family.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of William R. Mahler, please visit our floral store.
Poquoson Volunteer Rescue Squad
P.O. Box 2099, Poquoson VA 23662
Tabernacle United Methodist Church
831 Poquoson Avenue, Poquoson VA 23662