We are sad to announce that Wilfred Keese Abbott passed away peacefully after a brief but intense battle with cancer. In his final days, he was surrounded by loved ones.
Will is survived by his wife, Sharon Abbott of Coronado; sons Mike (Melissa) of Anchorage, Alaska and Steve (Shawn) of Mt. Shasta, California; six granddaughters, Rosalie (Stef), Molly (John), Grace (Robert), Rachel, Eileen and Tess; and two great-grandsons, Hugh Wilfred Abbott-Claus and John Stephen Nordlund.
Raised in Lancaster and Bishop, California, Will attended Pasadena City College following his graduation from high school in Lancaster. He entered the Air Force through the Aviation Cadet program in 1957 and graduated with a commission and pilot wings in 1958. While flying F-102’s in Kansas City, Missouri, Will met Sharon Kilby, a TWA flight attendant, and they were married in 1959. Their son Michael was born in Kansas City, and their second son Stephen was born in Goose Bay, Labrador.
Selected for an aviation exchange assignment with the US Navy in 1966, Will flew F-8 Crusaders with VF-111 and embarked on the USS Oriskany. On Sept. 5, 1966, Will was shot down flying a mission over North Vietnam. He was captured and held as a POW until March of 1973 when he was released and returned to the U.S. and his family.
Following his return Will served two assignments in Alaska and one at the Pentagon, he retired in 1984 as the Commander of the 21st Fighter Wing flying F-15 Eagles in Anchorage, Alaska. Will and Sharon remained in Anchorage until he ended his second career in 2009 as a Commissioner for the Regulatory Commission of Alaska. He was an avid fisherman who proudly kept the freezer full of salmon. He and Sharon, a museum curator, enjoyed and supported the Alaskan art community.
In 2009 they moved to Coronado where Will enjoyed the San Diego weather on his long morning walks along the water and a rich life in retirement with Sharon. He crossed the bay on the ferry twice a week to volunteer on the flight deck of the USS Midway Museum.
During their 62 year marriage, Will and Sharon traveled extensively. Memorable trips included China, Kenya and Italy. He always maintained his curiosity and openness to other cultures and loved reading and studying their history and art. His open-mindedness and breadth of knowledge are an inspiration to his entire extended family, especially to his six granddaughters.
In lieu of flowers please consider a contribution to St. Jude’s or Save the Elephants in his name.
A celebration of life ceremony will take place on the USS Midway later this month.