William Howard Lavender graduated to Heaven at his home in Ridgecrest, California, on Saturday, September 16, 2023.
Bill was born on April 30, 1938, in El Paso, Texas. His grandparents moved the Lavender family to El Paso 1930 from Paris, Texas. Bill’s Grandfather, father, and uncle were engaged in a house painting business in Paris, Texas. They moved to El Paso to continue their business. El Paso was one of the few cities in the United States where employment could be obtained during the Great Depression. However, the business failed and in 1952, Bill’s parents moved to San Diego, California to find employment in the aircraft factories. The rest of the Lavender family remained in El Paso, Texas, where his cousins, Arthur Joseph Lavender and Donald Lee Lavender, established their professional reputations in the El Paso Police Department.
Bill graduated from high school in 1956 and started working in the aircraft factories in San Diego. He married the former Linda Tober and they had a son, Michael Bernard, in 1962. The world was changing in the early 1960s and Bill was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1961 during the Berlin Crisis.
Bill Lavender was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1961 as a Field Communications Specialist. He did his basic training at Fort Ord, California. His active-duty assignment was in Hanau, Germany, in the Communications Section of the Headquarters of the 18th Ordinance Battalion. After his 2-year active duty obligation was completed, Bill was assigned to the United States Army Reserve (USAR) to finish his eight-year military service obligation. Bill completed his military service obligation and was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army in 1967.
Bill married for the second time in July 1966 to the former Judith Lynn Delaney (1942-1993) of San Diego, California. Bill and Judy had two sons together, William (1968) and Stephen (1969-2009). In 1967, Bill became a Federal Civil Service Employee as an Aircraft Sheet Metal Technician at North Island Naval Station in San Diego, California. He was hired immediately because of his previous work as a contract employee on the Project Shoehorn upgrades on the F-8 Crusader and F-4 Phantom aircraft.
The family moved to El Centro, California, in 1970 due to Bill accepting a new Federal Civil Service job with the National Parachute Test Department at NAS El Centro. Due to Bill’s high-quality sheet metal work and natural aptitude for engineering and design concepts, he was assigned to work on projects related to the B-1 Bomber as well as U.S. Navy Test Bed projects.
The U.S. Navy experienced a post-Vietnam War reduction-in-force (RIF) and base realignment and closures (BRAC) in the late 1970’s. The National Parachute Test Department was moved from NAS El Centro to the Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) at China Lake, California, in 1979. Bill transferred from the National Parachute Test Department to the NAWS Sheet Metal Shop located at the base airfield. While there, Bill was consistently tasked to do sheet metal work on the U.S. Navy and other U.S. Government Test Bed projects. His commitment to excellence and high quality in his tradecraft resulted in his gaining a professional reputation throughout the U.S. Navy’s test and development community.
Bill retired from the Federal Civil Service in 1999 after rising through the paygrades from a Wage-Grade employee to his final rate as a DT-3.
Bill was a loving husband, father, model employee, committed Christian, and patriotic citizen. He will be missed by all who knew him.
He is preceded in death by his second wife, Judith Lynn (Delaney) Lavender (1993); his son, Stephen Wayne Lavender (2009); his father, Milo Fulsome Lavender (1982); his mother, Bernice (Bennie) Marie Carter (1993), and older brother, James Warren Lavender (2011).
He is survived by his son, Michael Bernard Tober (Ridgecrest, CA); his son, Dr. William H. Lavender, II (El Paso, TX); and his first wife, Linda Tober (El Cajon, CA). And younger brother, Robert Wayne Lavender (Ridgecrest, CA