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Lt. Col. Bedford Bruce Bilby, Retired
Aug. 5, 1918 – Feb. 28, 2013
Retired Lt. Col. Bedford B. “Budd” Bilby, 94, passed away February 28 following a brief admittance at a local hospital.
The Omaha, Nebraska native was the middle of three children born to Harry Harrison Bilby and Pearl Adeline Adalia Wendell Bilby.
While his father had established a successful homebuilding business in Omaha, Budd became one of “The Greatest Generation,” with a decorated career in the U.S. Air Force. During World War II he flew 51 combat missions as pilot of a B-24 bomber from bases in England and North Africa; some missions were conducted as low-level attacks to avoid radar over the Ploesti oil fields in Romania August 1, 1943. And for twelve months Budd flew unarmed transports between Scotland and Sweden on a then top secret airline. Later he flew 116 flights to Berlin, Germany during the famous 1948-49 Berlin Airlift. He also served four years as a B-36 Aircraft Commander in the Strategic Air Command.
Rising to the rank of Lt. Colonel, Budd was stationed abroad in locales including Tripoli, Japan, Paris, Zaragoza, and Guam. Stateside bases included Washington D.C., Oklahoma, California, and Florida. He served as Base Commander in several of these locations.
Upon retirement, he moved his family to Vero Beach, Florida where he lived until his death. However, he never forgot his military family. Budd was a Charter Member of the Air Force Memorial Foundation.
With his handsome good looks, affable smile, and gift for gab, Budd’s retirement quickly evolved into a part-time job. He leased and resold units at the Racquet Club Apartments near his home. Additionally he ran an individual contractual business with condo owners called “Condo-Care.”
Typical of his sense of humor, potential condo leases would describe the vehicles they would be driving to meet him on the property and ask what he would be driving. He would respond, “A black Raleigh (pause) bicycle.” He always enjoyed hearing people laugh.
Besides his parents, Budd was preceded in death by daughter Jill Ann Goodnight, wife Lowana Helen “Top” (Nelson), younger brother Wendell, and older sister Marissa. He is survived by and will always be lovingly remembered by son Bruce, grandchildren Daniel (Erin) and Shelly Goodnight, Kristi Goodnight-Challenor (Matthew), great-grandchildren Ashley, Bryce, Archibald, and Charles, one cousin, Carole (Don) Larson of Osseo, Min, and several nephews and nieces. A memorial service will be held 2 p.m., on March 9, 2013 at Christ By The Sea United Methodist Church, Vero Beach, Florida. In lieu of flowers a contribution to the church would be appreciated.