COLUMBIA — Walter B. "Tex" Badger died Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013. He was 89.
Mr. Badger was born May 4, 1924, in Austin, Texas to Kathryn Brooks and Walter H. Badger.
Following graduation from high school, Mr. Badger enlisted in the Army Air Corps, receiving his pilot wings and commission as a second lieutenant in December 1943. He was a combat pilot flying both bomber and fighter aircraft out of England with the Eighth and Ninth Air Force and participated in the invasion on D-Day in 1944.
On his return to the U.S., he attended an engineering program in conjunction with the University of Illinois and graduated in 1945. Mr. Badger also graduated from theAir Force's Air University and Warfare Center, formerly called Fighter Weapons School.
During the Korean War, Mr. Badger flew 126 combat missions with the 49th Fighter Group. Returning to the U.S. in 1951, he continued his association with several other fighter organizations and spent two years developing weapons for fighter aircraft. In 1963, after 21 years of service, he retired from the Air Force.
Following retirement from the military, Mr. Badger continued his love of flying. He worked as a test pilot in Texas before joining Piper Aircraft distributor. In 1971, he became associated with the Piper distributor in Kansas City, where he worked as a sales manager. It was during this time that he met and married his “once-in-a-lifetime love,” Nancy Wickersham, who was the Piper aircraft dealer in Columbia. Their marriage brought together kids, households, cars and airplanes.
Mr. Badger later partnered with an associate to form a company that bought and sold corporate aircraft. The company was located in the Texas Hill Country, where he and his wife spent 11 years. The company was later relocated to Knoxville, Tenn., and the Badgers returned to Columbia to operate a regional office.
As Mr. Badger had long promised his wife, on his 75th birthday, he hung up his wings and quit flying. He had accumulated more than 20,000 hours of pilot time.
Mr. Badger was a member of Calvary Episcopal Church, the Air Force Order of Daedalians, the Military Officers Association of America, the Quiet Birdmen, the P-47 Thunderbolt Pilots Association and the F-86 Sabre Pilots Association.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Badger is survived by his sons, Scott Badger, and wife, Donna, and Jonathan Badger of San Antonio; daughter Susan Tassos of San Antonio; two stepchildren, Beth Bauman, and husband, Larry, of Lake Villa, Ill., and Andy Wickersham of Kansas City. Mr. Badger is also survived by 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, at Memorial Funeral Home, 1217 Business Loop 70 West.
Services will be held at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5, at the same location.
Memorial contributions can be made to the Stewart Cancer Center in the Boone Hospital Foundation, 1600 East Broadway, Columbia, MO 65201.
Condolences can be posted at memorialfuneralhomeandcemetery.com.