In Memory

William B Beggs - Class Of 1938

William B Beggs

William Beggs born September 18, 1919, passed away June 28, 2006.

A well recognized Whittier resident for the last 56 years, Bill was a loving and devoted father and avid sports fan.  Preceded in death by his wife Trudy, 35 years ago, Bill dedicated his life to his children.  He became a regular sporting events fixture at his daughter's alma mater, St. Paul's High School.  He also followed his daughter's successes in rowing at Loyola Marymount University, and encouraged his son in baseball and weightlifting competitions.

Bill Beggs was active in St. Mary's of the Assumption Catholic Church in Whittier, receiving an honorary Life Membership in the Knights of Columbus.  As a youth he achieved the highest ranking of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts; setting a pattern of achievement and excellence in his life.

After serving as Captain of his high school football team, Bill was elected to the South Pasadena High School Athletic Hall of Fame (1938) following his stellar 1936 and 1937 football seasons where he had the honor as the only two-time first All-Southern California Team where he was selected as first team tackle.  Bill continued his remarkable football career at Santa Clara University where he served three seasons as varsity tackle.  As captain of the freshman team he led the Broncos to an unbelievable accomplishment:  undefeated, untied, and unscored upon during the entire season!  Another notable football accomplishment was on November 22, 1941 when he consistently kept nationally recognized UCLA quarterback Bob Waterfield on his backside during Santa Clara's resounding 35-13 defeat of UCLA.  In addition to mastering tackle, Bill also played fullback and punter.  One season he played 238 out of a season total 240 minutes of play, providing support to both offensive and defensive squads.  His numerous college accolades include First String All-Coast team.  Bill was such a national football presence he was strongly recruited by seven professional football teams (New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Rams, Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, and Milwaukee Chiefs).  Bill declined the numerous recruitment attempts and chose to volunteer to serve in the US Air Corps to pursue his interest in flying.

During World War II Bill served as a nose turret gunner in the lead plane of the 485th Bomb Group of the 15th Air Force.  He served with distinction in 51 missions in a B-24 Liberator in the European and North African Theaters.  Bill is credited with two kills of German fighters during his European campaign, and flew three missions over the Ploesti oil fields in Romania leading to the destruction of 1/3 of Hitler's oil supplies in WW II.  He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross medal, as well as Good Conduct, European African Middle Eastern Campaign, and two Oak Leaf Clusters Distinguished Air medals.

Following his military service, Bill became a stock broker at the Pacific Stock Exchange, where he served for 37 years (1947-1984).  He is noted for spending three years on the trading floor without one error in trading, a testament to his hard work, dedication and pursuit of perfection.

Unwilling to completely retire, Bill pursued his many interests around flying and athletics.  He received numerous accolades as Number One Fan from the Henry T. Gage Junior High School, St. Paul's High School, and Loyola Marymount University.  He never missed a sporting event that his son or daughter participated in, and continued to support the teams for many years afterwards.

In pursuit of his flying interests, Bill dedicated thousands of hours over a twelve year period to rebuilding the N9MB "Flying Wing" experimental plane developed by aviation legend Jack Northrop.  The Planes of Fame Air Museum, where the "Flying Wing" is housed, gave Bill an honorary appointment.  He was also a member of the March Field Museum Foundation.  As a member of the San Gabriel Valley Radio Control League, Bill competed and won numerous awards for building and flying model airplanes.  Unhappy to just "fly from the ground," Bill received his private pilot's license in 1990, fulfilling a life-long dream.  He spent many joyous hours piloting small aircraft in the Southern California skies.

Bill continued his military aircraft interests as an active member of the Civil Air Patrol, volunteering his time in emergency situations such as the Northridge Earthquake and locating missing aircraft.  He also spent many hours in documenting and contributing to historical accounts and books on the B-24 Liberator and WW II.  For many years he attended the 485th Bomb Group reunions around the country, and was a long-time member of the Liberator Club.  Bill donated his time and resources to the preservation of military aircraft history.  He was a member of the Air Force Gunners Association, the 15th Air Force Association, and a charter sponsor of the Air Force Memorial Foundation.

Bill Beggs will be dearly missed by his family and all who knew him.  He was a joy to know, a man who always had a kind word and good spirit to share.  Bill is survived by son Christopher and daughter Colleen.  He leaves behind his younger sister, Betty, and younger brother, Bud, as well as 12 neices and nephews.