Billy Lee Whitehurst (79) formerly of Newton

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Published on October 9 2012 2:36 pm

Billy Lee Whitehurst, 79, of Aurora, Colorado, formerly of Newton, Illinois lost a long battle with prostate cancer and died Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at the Denver Hospice, surrounded by familiy and friends.

Graveside services will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, October 13 at Riverside Cemetery, Newton. Burial will be in the Riverside Cemetery with military rites by Jasper Post No. 20 of the American Legion. Crain Funeral Home, Newton is in charge of local arrangements.

Billy Lee was born September 13, 1932, the son of Eber and Mable (Foote) Whitehurst in rural Jasper County. The youngest of eight children, he was raised on his family farm and graduated from Newton High School in 1950. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1951-55 during the Korean War, achieving the rank of Staff Sergeant. Most memorable and notable of his military service was his assignment as Crew Chief of a B-29 aircraft of the 581st Air Resupply Squadron from July 1, 1953 to February 1, 1954. Bill was awarded an Air Force Commendation Ribbon in recognition of his role in consistently having the best maintained B-29 in his organization, consistently the highest in flight operations. He married Joyce Lavonne Murrow from Strasburg, Colorado February 12, 1956. Bill spent his entire career in aviation, most of that time as an independent broker/dealer in used aircraft. He was passionate about flying and teaching others to fly more safelty. Bill was experienced in over 100 types of aircraft and logged thousands of hours of flight itme. His civilian career included work in aircraft sales, line operations, ferry pilot and contract flying. Past employers were Vest Aircraft, Clinton Aviation, Aero Denver, Mountain State Aviation, and AMR Combs. The capstone of Bill's career was as a professional flight trainer, certifying other pilots in their own aircraft.

Bill is survived by his children, Dawn Loy Whitehurst and James Gary Gentry of Aurora, Colo.; Joni Gay (husband Ken) Smith of Phoenix,  Ariz. and Donald Eber (wife Bonnie Lynn) Whitehurst of Salem, Ore; grandchildren, James Lee Meyer, Joseph Laine Meyer, Michael Ryan Gentry and Jesse Dean Gentry of Aurora, Colo; Hannah Alicia Smith, Abigail Naomi Smith and Sarah Elizabeth Smith of Phoenix, Ariz and Danielle Marie Whitehurst and Garrett William Whitehurst of Salem, Ore.; great-grandchildren, Nicolas James Meyer and Jamie Lee Meyer of Aurora, Colo.