William Walter Wehner (March 25th, 1935 to June 11th, 2015)
Wings Over the Border cofounder Bill Wehner died June 11th at his home in Columbus, New Mexico with his wife, Mary McClain, by his side. He is survived by wife Mary, brothers Bob and Jim, sister Barb, and children Bill II, Anne, Lisa, and Susan.
Wings owes a great debt to his tireless creative efforts, and Bill’s many friends throughout the United States and beyond will miss his dynamic presence.
Before refocusing on Wings, Bill co-founded the First Aero Squadron Foundation in 2007 and served on its Board of Trustees continuously until 2014, serving as president from 2010 to 2014. Dedicated to preserving Columbus, New Mexico’s historic role in military aviation, he negotiated the first land purchase covering the original site of the Army’s First Aero Squadron, and was later responsible for the acquisition of the full 160 acre site.
Seeing a need to extend and enhance their initial vision, in 2015 Bill and other key figures in the community founded Wings with its dedication to expanding into a full-fledged national organization.
Bill’s interests included historic preservation in general, and he was founding chair of the Columbus, New Mexico Historic Preservation Commission under former Columbus mayor, Martha Skinner. The commission was responsible for having the First Aero Squadron airfield named to New Mexico’s Eleven Most Endangered Historic Sites Register in 2006.
Prior to retiring to New Mexico in 2002, Bill served on the Davenport, Iowa Airport Commission and its Historic Preservation Commission and co-founded and served as first president of the International Cessna 170 Association. [The Cessna model 170 was one of the Cessna’s most popular four-place single engine aircraft.]
As a professional landscape architect, he founded, ran, and eventually sold two successful landscape and horticulture businesses; served as president of the Iowa Nursery and Landscape Association, Village of East Davenport Association, and Scott County Handicapped Development Center, and taught landscape design at Scott Community College for many years. He and Mary also restored and lived in a nineteenth century home in Davenport’s historic East Village and he served on the Davenport Historic Preservation Commission.
In his professional capacity, Bill wrote for the national horticultural trade press as well as for the Quad-City Times and was featured in the PBS show, About Your House. In retirement, he went on to publish his first novel, Tracking Julie Stensvahl, a 2011 thriller set in the high desert of the modern southwest.
After spending some 25 years exploring the Southwest, he and Mary retired to an airpark near the Mexican border and historic village of Columbus where they have been actively engaged in civic affairs.
The family requests that tax-deductible memorial donations be made to Wings Over the Border, PO Box 1664, Columbus, NM, 88029.
When Services for Bill are announced, they will be immediately posted here on your Wings Over The Border Website.
A Tribute to Bill Wehner in his passing by James Efferson our local accountant
"One of the prime moving powers of Wings Over The Border, Bill Wehner, passed away last night (6/11/15). We will all miss his enthusiasm, talent for organising, and especially his acerbic wit. I spent part of the day with him and Mary this past Tuesday. He was weak, but in good spirits. Please join me in wishing him well as he embarks on a new adventure, navigating the universe. Bon Voyage, Bill."
Wings Over The Border
Goals and Objectives
To obtain, protect and hold for posterity the land once used by the First Aero Squadron...
To create a memorial to the early Military Aviators...
To restore the land to a condition similar to how it appeared in 1916...
To bring about... creation of a WWI and Classic Period aviation museum...
To ensure the operation of the Aerodrome and museum will be self-supporting...
Wings Over the Border
PO Box 1664
Columbus NM 88029
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Ph. 575-531-7044