William J. Crea Jr. (Bill) died of complications due to Parkinson’s disease and surgery on Monday, February 17, 2020.
William J. Crea Jr. was born to William J Crea Sr. and Mary Toennis Crea on May 23, 1940, at Fenn, Idaho. Bill received his education in Grangeville and graduated High School in 1958 and earned a B.S. and M.S. in agronomy from the University of Idaho in 1964. He married Virginia Schmidt on July 29, 1961. He said, “that convincing Virginia to marry me was the smartest thing that I have ever done.” This union made him the proud father of a daughter, Camille Michael and a son Ron; and he welcomed grandson’s Sean and Cameron.
Bill served his country as a commissioned officer at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida in the Research and Technology Division for three years, during the Vietnam War, from 1964 until 1967. After his honorable discharge as a 1st Lieutenant, he was hired by NASA’s Earth Observation Division in Houston for ten years, seven of which he was their only agronomist. He worked with LANDSAT satellites which eventually allowed land measurement and crop identification of wheat, from every other crop, in eight different countries.
While in Houston, Bill became co-owner of a J-3 Piper Cub airplane (the one that had a wire on a cork sticking out of the fuselage floating on the fuel as a gas gauge which was simple, but dependable). Flying this Piper Cub became his favorite hobby. Latter he regularly flew a Cessna 172.
In 1977, when the excitement and challenges of the space program slowed down, he gathered his family and moved back to the land of his birth, the Camas Prairie, to the family farm. The Crea farm was settled in 1879, one year before Idaho became a state. He became a highly participating member of the Idaho Grain Producers Association, and the Idaho Wheat Commission, and was awarded their Distinguished Service award.
Bill was the youngest of his family. Preceding him in death, besides his parents, were brothers George (Ann), Ralph (Florence), Earl (Alice), Lewis (Roberta), and Cecil, who died in infancy, also his sister-in-law’s Jackie (Schmidt) Lacey and Janice (Schmidt) Gardner.
Besides his immediate family, he is survived by his daughter-in-law Ruth Crea, in-laws Joyce (Schmidt) Woods (Mark), Patricia (Schmidt) Fealko (David), Roy Lacey, and Lynn Gardner.
Thank you to Dr. Ron Sigler, the staff at Idaho State Veterans Home, and the staff at Tri-State Memorial Hospital for your impeccable professional and compassionate care.
He treasured his family, his relatives, his many friends and farming on the Prairie. Although all of this was as near to an earthly heaven as a living could possibly be, now he knows what heaven is really like. If you happen to hear the flutter of feathers and the sound of a motor overhead, it could be angel escorts silhouetted against the clear blue sky with Bill in a J-3 Piper Cub heading toward heaven, tilting its wings back and forth to say goodbye.
A rosary will be recited on Saturday, March 7, 2020 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church at 10:30 a.m. followed by the Funeral Mass at 11:00 a.m. Arrangements are under the direction of the Blackmer Funeral Home, Grangeville. Send condolences to the family to Blackmerfuneralhome.com.
In lieu of flowers please donate to the Parkinson’s Foundation, 1420 E. Sprague Ave #103, Spokane WA 99202.