William B. Leist
Departed in Palm Bay, Florida on March 6, 2020
William B. Leist (Bill) passed away Friday, March 6 at 4:55pm.
Bill was born in St. Louis, MO on June 20, 1939. He earned a BA degree in Economics and an MBA from Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, MI. He entered the U.S. Air Force in 1962, graduated from Officer Training School as a Distinguished Graduate and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. He achieved the rank of Lt. Colonel and retired in 1983.
Bill’s Air Force career included Navigator training in Texas, B-52 Nav Bomb training in California, RF-4C training in Mountain Home, ID, and Flying Instructor training (Distinguished Graduate) in Texas. His career included assignments as a B-52 navigator at Briggs, AFB, El Paso, TX and Guam. He was a Navigator Instructor at Mather AFB, CA. He flew RF-4C Tactical Reconnaissance aircraft as a Weapon Systems Officer/Navigator from Kadena AB, Okinawa, Japan, Korea, Philippines, and at Tan Son Nhut, AB, Vietnam. He was a Flight Examiner at both Okinawa and Vietnam. Bill was assigned to Air Force Headquarters, Pentagon, for four years where he was responsible for all RF-4C operations and funding. He was assigned twice to HQ Tactical Air Command, Langley AFB, VA. On his second assignment he was Chief Force Issues Division (XPFI) and was responsible for all budget issues affecting the Tactical Air Forces during the Department of Defense budgeting system cycle. Bill’s military awards include the Distinguished Flying Cross, three Meritorious Service Medals, eight Air Medals, the Air Force Commendation Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Combat Readiness Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with three Bronze Stars, Presidential Unit Citation, three Outstanding Unit Awards, Vietnam Gallantry Cross, and Vietnam Campaign Medal.
After Air Force retirement, Bill worked at Kennedy Space Center, FL for one year. He then opened and was co-owner of Nevada Bob’s Golf, Melbourne, FL. During his 23 1/2 year career with Nevada Bob’s, they also operated stores in Daytona Beach and Jacksonville, FL. In June 2007, the Melbourne store was closed and Bill retired.
Bill is survived by his beloved wife Cynthia, step-son Paul M. Felix II of Melbourne, FL, and nephew Robert C. Leist of Sturgis, MI. His parents, Robert and Marcet Leist and brother Ronald R. Leist preceded him in death.
A Celebration of Life service will be held Wednesday, March 11th at 2:00pm, at Brownlie-Maxwell Funeral Home, followed by entombment with full military honors at Florida Memorial Gardens, Rockledge, Florida.
Memorial donations may be made to Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, Kansas 66675, or online at https://support.woundedwarriorproject.org/wwp