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William Schweizer

Age 98 of Elmira passed away peacefully at his home on January 8, 2016 surrounded by his loving family. His wife of 57 years, Margaret "Peg" Hardy Schweizer preceded him in death in May 2001. He is survived by three sons and a daughter, and their spouses: William Stuart and Lucia Schweizer of Elmira, Paul Hardy and Lauren Schweizer of Phoenix, AZ, John Schweizer and Jennifer Lucas of Burlington, VT, and Gayle Schweizer and Jack Colegrove of Bainbridge Island, WA. Bill also leaves ten grandchildren: Kristina Schweizer Cadwallader, Amy Schweizer Lichtensztajn, Peter Stuart Schweizer, Jordan Hardy Schweizer, Gareth Schweizer Smith, Brettan Schweizer Martelle, Quinn Schweizer Apuzzo, Hannah McHale Schweizer, Caitlin Nora Colegrove and Claire Hardy Colegrove; and eight great-grandchildren: Colson Hires Cadwallader, Jed Ari Lichtensztajn, William Kennedy Schweizer, Daniel Finn Schweizer, Evalyn Whitney Smith, Oliver Berrien Smith, Goldie Gareth Schweizer and Neve Stowell Martelle.

Bill was born on E. 57th Street in New York City on December 7, 1917, the son of Paul Schweizer and Emma Bader Schweizer. His mother died in 1923 and his father in 1957. His two brothers, Ernest and Paul A. Schweizer of Elmira, and his two sisters, Emma Schweizer Martinez of Horseheads and Helen Schweizer Pataki of Peekskill, NY predeceased him.

Bill grew up in Peekskill where he lettered in football, track and tennis. He won awards for scholarship, character and athletics and was voted All Hudson League fullback. He then went to Syracuse University where his football career ended following a knee injury. Majoring in science, he was president of the Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity and graduated in 1941. Between 1948 and 1950 he attended New York University's Business School where he pursued a Master's Degree in Industrial Management.

Bill's business career always focused on aviation, his true passion. He worked with his brothers at Schweizer Aircraft during the war years as its production manager. In 1946 and 1947, he was the assistant manager of Commonwealth Aircraft Corp. on Long Island. During the time he was pursing his Master's Degree, he also was an industrial management instructor at what is now NY State University at Farmingdale. In 1951 he returned to Schweizer Aircraft where he became an equal partner in the ownership and management of the company along with his brothers, Ernie and Paul. He retired from Schweizer Aircraft in 1982 after the ownership and management of the company was transferred to the next generation of Schweizers: Stuart, Leslie E., and Paul H.

During his years at Schweizer Aircraft the company evolved into one of the foremost manufacturers in the world of sailplanes and agricultural spray aircraft. Schweizer produced over 2100 sailplanes and 2600 Ag-Cat agricultural aircraft. Bill's primary focus was production management. He also was responsible for the company's subcontract business, through which Schweizer produced components for nearly every major aerospace company. After the company's purchase of the Model 269 helicopter from Hughes Helicopters in 1983, Bill retired and devoted himself to public service, writing, painting and enjoying time with his family.

Of great importance to Bill was his commitment to the Elmira community which included service on the West Elmira Board of Education from 1954-1957; involvement with the National Soaring Museum from its inception; and service as a Director of the Elmira Savings Bank from 1966 through 1996, including as its Chairperson from 1984 through 1987. Bill also served on the Board of Directors of S. F. Iszard Company from 1982 through 1990 and served on the Board of Directors of Arnot Ogden Hospital from 1969 to 1998 and as its Chairman from 1983 through 1987. Bill and Peg's generous contribution helped fund the Medical Center's Schweizer Pavilion, completed in 2005.

Bill received many acknowledgements for his business and service achievements including: the Boy Scout's Distinguished Citizen Award (1984); a Lifetime Achievement Award from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration); induction into the National Soaring Hall of Fame (1984); and into the Peekskill High School Hall of Honors (1998). In 1998 he received the Exceptional Achievement Award from the Soaring Society of America and in 2010 Harris Hill Soaring and the National Soaring Museum held the "Bill Schweizer Day" to honor his contributions.

Bill took great pleasure in his activities, life with his family, and lived his life with kindness, integrity and a delightful sense of humor. Bill was involved with many clubs and organizations including Park Church, Elmira Country Club, Elmira City Club, and the Elmira Rotary Club. After retiring he wrote three aviation related books. At the age of 85 he began painting in his own unique "American Primitive" style.

Bill's flying career started when he taught himself to fly in 1930 in the first Schweizer glider. He was a lifelong pilot of sailplanes and single-engine airplanes. He loved athletics and actively skied, played tennis and golf, and supported the New York Football Giants.

Family and friends are invited to The Park Church, 208 W. Gray Street, Elmira, NY 14901, at 3:00 P.M. on Wednesday, January 13, 2016 for a Memorial Service to celebrate the life of Bill Schweizer. In lieu of flowers, those wishing to remember Bill may do so with a donation to the National Soaring Museum, 51 Soaring Drive, Elmira, NY 14903 or Arnot Health Foundations, P O Box 1512, Elmira, NY 14902-9935.

Posted: 1/13/2016

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