William “Bill" Raymond Maass, age 100, of Nokomis Florida, passed away January 31, 2021. Bill was born November 8, 1920 in Kankakee, IL, the first of five children to his WW 1 Veteran father, William B. Maass and his Swiss immigrant mother, Theresa Ray Maass.
Young Bill helped his step grandfather with his nursery business and as a teen became a plumber's helper and apprentice with his uncle George Ray. He later joined the Army Air Corp . There he worked his way up from private to captain and mechanic to pilot. Because of his skill in flight school he was sent to photo reconnaissance school and became a recon pilot with the Flying Tigers. He was stationed in China where he flew harrowing missions armed only with cameras over the Himalayas and ocean to take photos of Japanese occupied and defended territory, mainly Taiwan to help prep for an invasion of the island. He also mapped parts of Laos and Burma. For his valor, including eluding Japanese fighter planes, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and two air medals At a later date, he received a special medal from the government of Nationalist China in Taiwan , the first of two " forgotten" medals he received post war. During his service, he visited Africa, India, and Egypt while flying his plane to military destinations, allowing him to see the pyramids and the Taj Mahal.
After leaving the service, Bill went to work for Kroehler Furniture Manufacturing in his home town of Kankakee, IL, again working his way up from payroll clerk to Corporate Industrial Relations Manager over seven plants from California to New York. Bill was transferred to Naperville, IL in 1977 and retired from there several years later.
The Flying Tiger pilot and Captain, married Beatrice L. Schrader on September 14, 1944 in Kankakee, IL. Following his exit from the Air Force, the two literally built their own home in Kankakee, IL with help from family members and with guidance from Army skilled trades manuals that Bill received during his service time.
Bill and his wife Bea traveled extensively with their young children on annual vacations, camping over the lower 48 states, Canada, and Mexico. He loved to canoe and fished at every campground he visited. In 1974, with their children and his mother they made a seven country trip through Europe including a family reunion in Switzerland.
After retirement, Bea and Bill traveled the United States in a motor home for two years to explore the country to decide where they wanted to retire, finally settling in Florida. After their move they embarked to see some of the world's greatest sites and treasures including Egypt, Greece, London, Ireland, Japan, Russia, Poland, Spain, Taiwan, Portugal, and China, visiting 20 countries total.
The two always championed higher education as they saw it as a means for their children to not have to endure the poverty that they both experienced. They were very proud of all of their children and grandchildren for furthering their education. Bill was known by his family as the person who could fix and repair anything and he shared that knowledge by showing his children and grandchildren how it could be done. Bill's hobbies included gardening , bird watching , fascinated and accomplished with the use of the internet and its many advantages. In younger years Bill was a hunter, providing well for his family's needs.
Bill was proceeded in death by his wife Beatrice , sister Rosemary Morrison (and husband Lt Warren Morrison), brother Rodney and his wife Betty, brother James, brother in law William C. Schrader, sons-in-law Gabriel Favoino and Lawrence Schubert, sister in law Isabelle Vandenberg and her husband Annas and nephew Steven Schrader. He is survived by daughters Patricia Schubert of Nokomis FL, and Joan (Bill) Grodski of Winter Springs FL, son William (Lori) Maass VII of Delavan IL, granddaughter Alexandra Maass of Bradenton FL, grandson Dr. William (Sara) Maass VIII of Pikeville KY, grandson Andrew Grodski of Casselberry FL, and great-grandsons William Maass IX and Theodore Maass of Pikeville KY, brother Thomas (Mary) Maass, Sr. as well as sister-in-laws Mrs. William (Nelda) Schrader, Mrs. James (Helen) Maass. Bill is also survived by 11 nieces and nephews and many great-nieces and nephews. He is also survived by 5 cousins that he kept up with and loved: Jackie Murphy, Bert Johnson, Francis DuVoisin', George Ray Jr. and Aline Somers
A military service for William and Beatrice will take place at Sarasota National Cemetery on Feb 19, 2021, provided by the Venice, FL chapter of the American Legion. In lieu of flowers, Bill’s wish was for donations to be made to the Veteran's Honor Flight organization which took him to Washington D.C in 2010, or a donation to the American Legion.