William “Bill” L. Baxter Jr., age 92 of Walnut Grove, passed away Monday, June 20, 2022 at Valley View Manor in Lamberton. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday, June 24, 2022 at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Westbrook. Visitation will be 5:00-8:00 p.m. Thursday, June 23 at Walnut Grove Funeral Home. Visitation will continue one hour prior to the service at church on Friday. Interment will be in the Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Walnut Grove. Stephens Funeral Service – Walnut Grove Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.
William “Bill” Lloyd Baxter Jr. was born April 26, 1930 to William Sr. and Emma (West) Baxter in Slayton, Minnesota. He received his pilot license at age 16. In 1948, he graduated from Walnut Grove High School and later served in the U.S. Air Force from 1951-1955. On October 8, 1955, he married the love of his life, Joan Saelens, at St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Walnut Grove. He worked as a bus driver and mechanic for Walnut Grove Public Schools for two years, before starting his aviation career in 1957. Bill was the aircraft mechanic and flight instructor at Boeck Aircraft at the Walnut Grove Airport. He later was a flight instructor and charter pilot in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Bill then was a pilot for Red Owl food stores in Minneapolis. He later was a pilot for Studebaker Corp. in South Bend, Indiana, Studebaker Worthington in Morristown, New Jersey, and Airesearch Aviation in Islip, New York. Bill also had the honor of being the personal pilot to Mrs. Payson, the owner of the New York Mets. In 1976, Bill transferred to Los Angeles as a corporate pilot for Allied Signal Oil. One highlight during his tenure at LAX, Bill flew former President Richard Nixon around the world in 1985. In 1988, Bill retired to Walnut Grove, where he enjoyed his motorcycle and Cessna 172! He was a member of the Walnut Grove American Legion, where he was a past commander. Bill enjoyed woodworking and loved to build Adirondack chairs and windmills.
Bill is survived by his wife Joan of 66 years; sons: William, Michael, Steven & Robert; daughters: Barbara, Debora, Elizabeth & Jennifer; 16 grandchildren; 20 great grandchildren; lifelong childhood friend Donn Baker; and many other relatives and friends. He is preceded in death by his parents, sisters: Elaine, Irene, Ilene & Doris, and brother Robert.