Edward William “Bill” Brandecker Jr., 98, passed away peacefully Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020, at his home in Columbia, surrounded by family.
Services include a funeral prayer vigil at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10 at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, 903 Bernadette Drive, with family receiving visitors there from 5 to 7 p.m. A mass of Christian burial will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 11 at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, followed by a military service at Columbia Cemetery concluding with a luncheon for all guests at the church.
As Bill repeatedly stated, he lived a wonderful life. Bill was born July 11, 1921, in Marshall, Missouri, as the only son to Clara and Edward Brandecker.
In 1942, he enlisted in the USAF as a pilot and later became a flight instructor based in Texas. In 1944 he was assigned to the 456th Bomb Group as captain of a B24 squadron and deployed to Italy. During the war, he led dozens of successful missions and was decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross for his courageous and heroic service in the line of duty when he bravely returned his crew from a mission despite the loss of two engines and navigating inclement weather.
After the war, Bill married Betty Hinnenkamp on Nov. 30, 1946, a marriage that lasted 53 years until her death in June 2000. Bill completed his degree from the University of Missouri Law School in 1950, serving as an assistant prosecuting attorney before opening his own law practice in Columbia that lasted over 60 years, and included a role as president of the Boone County Bar Association.
In addition to serving his country, running a business, and raising a family, Bill had many interests but none exceeded his passion for flying – which he was able to continue until the young age of 88. He flew his own plane for work, family trips and to MU football games, always saying there was no better comfort than being in control in the air. All of those who flew with him knew there was no better, more prepared and experienced pilot.
Bill’s other loves included any activity with family, hundreds of trips to the lake, boating, swim meets, card games, dirty gin martinis, watching college football games, following the stock market and passing out $2 bills to his grandchildren. Everyone that knew Bill loved his quirky personality, wit and charm, as reflected by his many other names – Dad, Papa, Old Papa, Uncle Bill, Mr. Nice Guy and Baron Von Squatley - to name just a few.
Mom and Dad loved joining their friends and neighbors in both Columbia and south Florida for cocktail parties, laughs and storytelling. They were avid supporters of Tiger football as season ticket holders for over 50 years.
Together, they raised six children who were their true priority. Mom and Dad gave their children a foundation which included the importance of family, faith, hard work, respect, patience, and service. The love and support they modeled and taught their children will last forever as will their legacy and traditions.
Their family will never forget the generous sacrifices they made to create times together at the lake and the annual extended family trips to Florida during Christmas. Dad called Mom a beautiful lady.
Cheers to a wonderful man.