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Willis Herrera Beardall

October 9, 1943 ~ April 22, 2019 (age 75)

Willis “Bill” Herrera Beardall, 75, of Asheville, NC passed away April 22, 2019 at Solace Hospice Center in Asheville. Bill was born October 9, 1943, in Colon, Republic of Panama and grew up in Panama City. In 1961, he graduated from Balboa High School, Balboa, Panama Canal Zone. He earned a B.A. in Art History from the University of Arkansas in 1966, where he was a member of the U.S. Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps and Tau Kappa Epsilon social fraternity. He received a masters in Landscape Architecture from North Carolina State University’s School of Design in 1977. He was a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Asheville. Bill proudly served as a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1966 to 1973. He flew Sikorsky CH-53 Sea Stallion heavy-lift helicopters during the Vietnam War; and trained fixed-wing pilots in Naval Air Station Pensacola. In Vietnam, his aircraft was downed twice by enemy fire during combat operations, earning him the Distinguished Flying Cross and Combat Action Ribbon. Bill was fiercely loyal to his Marine brothers, keeping close ties with fellow graduates of The Basic School 4-67 and those he served with in Vietnam. With 10 other members of the North Carolina Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee, Inc., Bill was instrumental in the creation of the North Carolina Vietnam Veterans Memorial monument, “After the Firefight.” The sculpture was dedicated in 1987 at the state capitol grounds in Raleigh, NC. In the late 1970s, Bill founded Beardall Associates in Raleigh, a builder/contracting firm; later he worked with York Properties. He retired in 2013 from NC State University, having served nine years as Assistant Director of Facilities Operations for Grounds Management, Fleet Services and Waste Reduction and Recycling. Proud of his Panamanian heritage and a strong advocate for Latino immigrants, Bill served on the Governor’s Advisory Council for Hispanic/Latino Affairs, and on the boards of El Pueblo Inc., and the Triangle United Way. He encouraged NC State University Latino employees to take English classes and helped 35 employees to become U.S. citizens. He loved all things Latino and mastered Panamanian cuisine and dancing. Bill was happiest working in his garden, getting to know people, cooking from scratch, and spending time with family and friends. He loved going on trips with his best friends, “The Canoe Buddies,” who have paddled together for four decades. Bill saw beauty and uniqueness in everyone and made others feel special and loved. He will be remembered for his outgoing and loving nature. He was preceded in death by his mother, Amelia Maria Herrera Eder of Colon, Republic of Panama; father Willis Snow Beardall of Provo, UT; and his beloved nephew Stuart Charles Beardall of Fairfax, VA. He is survived by his wife, Judith “Judy” Lorene Smith; brother Colonel Charles Walter Beardall, U.S. Army (retired) and his wife Jonilynn; nephews Bradford Clement Beardall; Travis Scott Beardall and his wife Lina; grand-nephew Ellis Stuart Beardall; grand-niece Norah Elise Beardall; niece Virginia Rose Rodgers Massaro and her husband Michael; brother-in-law Benjamin A. Rodgers; and goddaughter Allison Elizabeth Sophia Pfotzer. A memorial service followed by a reception is set for Saturday, May 18, at 1 p.m., at St. John's Episcopal Church, 290 Old Haw Creek Road, Asheville, NC. Donations in Bill’s memory are welcome to St. John’s Episcopal Church, 290 Old Haw Creek Road, Asheville, NC 28805; or for needs-based scholarships for children of Marines: Erin Fleming, TBS 4-67 Memorial Scholarship, c/o Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, 909 N. Washington St., Ste. 400, Alexandria, VA 22314. Please indicate “In memory of Bill Beardall” on donations.

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