VERONA—William Meidell Rewey, age 91, passed away after a brief illness at Meriter Hospital in Madison surrounded by his family on Feb. 11, 2019. Bill was born on Nov. 23, 1927, in Marshfield, to his parents, Oliver and Hildur (Meidell) Rewey, the oldest of three sons.
Bill’s love of aviation was apparent early on. He was building model planes starting at age 6, and started flight training in a Piper Cub at the local Marshfield airport at age 18. He moved to Madison that summer and enlisted in a U.S. Navy program that provided university credit and flight instruction. Bill was later assigned to the Naval Air Stations at Pensacola, where he flew North American SNJs; Jacksonville, where he earned his wings in the Vought F-4U Corsairs; and Norfolk, where he flew carrier-based Grumman TBM Avengers in an antisubmarine squadron.
It was while stationed in Jacksonville that Bill met the love of his life, Marion, at a YWCA-sponsored dance she had organized. They were married Aug. 13, 1949, in a garden wedding at her parents’ home in Memphis. Discharged in 1950, Bill worked for North American Aviation in Ohio, then in 1953, Bill and Marion came back to Madison.
A busy career as mechanical engineer, father to three boys, a bout with polio, charter member of the Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ, and building two of their homes, kept Bill out of aviation until the 1960’s, when the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) and a set of home built aircraft plans, originally published in 1932, brought him back. He purchased those plans for a Pietenpol Air Camper and started down the road that made him a nationally acknowledged expert in building, restoring, and maintaining Pietenpols. Through articles, workshops and presentations at EAA and Pietenpol events, over the phone and by mail, Bill shared his homebuilding expertise. Far and wide he became known as “Mr. Pietenpol.”
Bill also helped introduce aviation to future generations and shared his love of open cockpit airplanes by giving more than 600 youngsters their first flights through the EAA Young Eagles program. Of these flights he had said, “It’s fun to get an instant response from the kids. There’s the mystique of the open cockpit.”
Bill was a steward and tireless promoter of the joys of grass roots aviation, and in 2011, was inducted into the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame. Bill’s only regret in his 91 years, was not having learned to play the bagpipes.
Bill is survived by his brother, Richard (Helen) Rewey of Longmont, Colo.; children, Tim (Kathleen) Rewey of De Soto, Chris (Kathleen) Rewey of Verona and Mike (Linda) Rewey of Verona; grandchildren, Nick (Eva) Meitner and Mackenzie Meitner; and great-grandchild, Scarlett Meitner. He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Jim; and wife, Marion.
A Celebration of a Life Well Lived will be held at SUGAR RIDGE AIRPORT, 7550 Sugar Ridge, Verona, at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 18, 2019, with refreshments and remembrances to follow a 2 p.m. ceremony. Memorials may be made to the EAA Aviation Foundation.