WWII pilot, lifelong athlete, family man

Published in the March 4, 2016 edition

MELROSE — William J. Healy, a longtime resident of Melrose, passed away peacefully on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016 at age 96.

Born on Nov. 5, 1919 in Boston, he was one of four children of the late William J. and Mary (Hines) Healy. The Healy family traces its roots back to Littleton, where all four children were raised and educated in farm country. Bill excelled in athletics as the captain of the high school basketball and baseball teams and his love for playing sports continued as a father.

Growing up on farm land in Littleton, Bill was responsible for his own pony from age 3 to 19. He met his future wife of 56 years while at a summer dance at Long Lake Club House in Littleton, where her family had a summer cottage. They returned to Melrose, Edna’s hometown, and raised a family of four. Mr. Healy went to work for his father-in-law, James Mullen, at Palmer Mullen Plumbing and Heating Supplies in Malden from 1946 to 1968. He then worked for many years as a licensed real estate broker for Reinherz Realty in Malden.

Bill served his country honorably during World War II as a pilot in the Fourth Combat Cargo group of the U.S. Army Air Force. He flew C-46s over “the Hump” of the Himalayan Mountains transporting troops and supplies throughout Burma, India and China. Bill was discharged in 1946 as a captain of the U.S.A.A.F.

As a father, Bill was a loving, attentive and supportive presence. He taught his sons to play baseball, played hockey on Ell Pond and took hikes in the Middlesex Fells. He loved spending time on Long Beach in Rockport with his sons and daughter and commuted every night during the summer to see them. Summers were spent relaxing on the beach or being pulled on waterskis behind the family boat that they all loved. Until his mid 80s, he enjoyed the winter skiing in New Hampshire and Vermont. He was also always a car enthusiast.

Bill was a witty man with a charming personality and a great sense of humor. He had a caring, generous nature and a kind word for all. He was always supportive of his children, loved his family and enjoyed chatting and socializing with everyone. He will be lovingly remembered for his humble character and outgoing, friendly personality.

Mr. Healy was the beloved husband of the late Edna A. (Mullen) Healy, with whom he shared 56 years of marriage. He was the devoted father of Michael D. Healy of Westminster; James M. Healy of Woburn; Patricia A. Rogers and her husband Richard of Strafford, N.H. and the late William J. Healy, Jr.

He was the dear brother of Mary Brown of Bandon, Ore.; Sally Bowers of Littleton; and the late Richard Healy of Littleton. He was the loving grandfather of Katrina Hill of Chelsea, Shannon Rogers and her husband Brian Keegan of Concord, N.H. and Kaylan Thibodeau and her husband Michael of Milford, N.H. He was the loving great-grandfather of Stella, Rory, Graham and Quinn. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews.

Relatives and friends will gather in honor of Bill’s life during visiting hours at the Robinson Funeral Home, 809 Main St., Melrose on Friday, March 4 from 9-10 a.m., before leaving in procession to Most Blessed Sacrament Church, 1155 Main St., Wakefield for his funeral Mass at 11 a.m. Interment with U.S. Air Force honors at Wyoming Cemetery, Melrose. For online tribute or directions, visit RobinsonFuneralHome.com.