Obituary : David Willey
David Willey, a long-time resident of Tisbury, died on September 26. Dave leaves his wife, Jackie R. Willey; three children, Megan, Ross, and Sophie; his parents, Gery W. and Walter D. Willey of Harbor Springs, Mich.; a brother, Stephen W. of Saline, Mich.; a sister, Barbara Sherman of Oxford, Ohio; many nieces and nephews; and a wide circle of friends.
Dave's childhood dream was to fly; he became a licensed pilot at 15 - before he could drive. After graduating from Avon Old Farms School and Ohio Wesleyan University, he joined the Navy, where he flew submarine chasers and became an aircraft carrier flight instructor. Discharged as a lieutenant, he moved to Martha's Vineyard, where he met the love of his life, Jackie Roddy. The couple married in 1983. In their early years together, Dave worked as a deckhand, then as an airborne spotter for Menemsha swordfish boats. Later he and Jackie moved to California, where Jackie became a nurse, and Dave earned an Airframe and Powerplant Certificate. Two children, Megan and Ross, arrived in California, while Dave bombed wildfires instate and across the border in Mexico. They returned to Martha's Vineyard in 1988, where Sophie, their third child, was born.
Dave flew all over the world from his base on the Vineyard. He brought food laden C130s into famine stricken regions of Africa. He captained Boeing 747s between Alaska, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Bahrain, and nearly every other major world airport.
In 2002 he accepted a job flying New England routes. The years with Cape Air, when he could come home to his family every night, were the happiest of his career.
Dave was intensely curious about the politics, religions, and cultures of the countries he flew in. He was an easy conversationalist - both a raconteur and an intense listener who absorbed information and lessons equally from the comfortable and the dispossessed. The exotic recipes and ingredients in his sauces were legendary among his friends; so were the sticky buns he cooked for his children on Sunday mornings.
He loved westerns, old war films, and the Red Sox.
He composed poetry for Jackie on birthdays, anniversaries, and days when the sun glittered on the ocean. One time he wrote:
Tis the season to be fishin
Catching scallops is your mission.
On your birthday
Catch a few.
And just remember
I love you.
David Willey died in an airplane crash on Friday, Sept. 26, a few miles from his home in Tisbury.
A celebration of his life was held on Tuesday, Sept. 30 at the Ag Hall.
Donations may be made in his memory to the David Willey Scholarship Fund C/O Martha's Vineyard Savings Bank, P.O. Box 1069, Edgartown, MA 02539. Arrangements are under the care of the Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, located on the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road in Oak Bluffs. Visit ccgfuneralhome.com for online guest book and information.