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Willie Alva

Obituary for Willie Alva

June 8, 1932 - July 29, 2017
San Antonio, Texas | Age 85


On July 29, 2017, pilot Willie Alva, took to the skies one final time. He began his last journey into the heavens surrounded by his loved ones, when he unexpectedly succumbed while recuperating from open-heart surgery.

Willie made his first solo landing in Hearne, Texas on June 8, 1932, where he became the fourth of what would eventually become a squadron of ten children in the household of Jesus and Eloisa Alva. Young Willie began as a student at John B. Hood Elementary and Hawthorn Middle Schools in San Antonio, Texas. While in Middle School, he met Gregoria Garcia, whom he would marry in 1951. The young couple established their home under the sunny skies of San Antonio, Texas. After working for a time as a field laborer, Willie enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1950. He was soon sent to Korea during the final days of the war. During his enlistment in the Air Force, Willie's duties took him and his family to many different military installations, ranging from Savannah, Georgia on the East Coast and Madera, California on the West Coast to include Upper Heyford, England. While in the Air Force, Willie was trained as a jet engine mechanic, and he later was cross-trained on the military's largest aircraft, including Lockheed Martin's C-141 Star lifter and the C-5 Galaxy. Putting his training to good use, during the Vietnam War, Willie served as a flight engineer on such planes during the war in Vietnam and around the world.

After his retirement from the Air Force, Willie continued his passion for flying. He amassed a trove of aviation licenses, including Private Pilot, Instrument Rating, Multi-Engine, Commercial, Flight Instructor and Airline Transport Pilot Certificate (the highest-level flight license available in the United States). While raising his three girls, Mary, Linda and Peggy, Willie would often take them flying, dipping his wings as they passed over their home far below. After tragically losing his wife Gregoria in 1990, Willie renewed his love for flying. In 1991, Willie and his brother Hilario pooled their resources and purchased their first plane, a Cessna 152.

Willie thus made his love of flying a profession, as he became a flight instructor, and operated a flight academy for several years, the International Flight Center of San Antonio. In the years since, Willie continued to teach aviation at many flight schools, most recently with Alpha Tango Flight School at the San Antonio International Airport. In sharing his decades of flying experience, Willie fulfilled the dreams of hundreds of young men and women, equipping them with the skills needed to pursue careers in the aviation industry. El Capitán was beloved by all his students.

It was during this time that he met an aspiring young pilot trainee, Judy Shires. The two flew together as often as possible. Judy later agreed to become Willie's co-pilot for life, and the two were married on May Day 1993. Willie also proudly became father to Judy's two young daughters, Holly and Heather. While making their home in San Antonio, Texas, their adventures took them to ports of call around the world. At the young age of 84, Willie and Judy flew a small single engine plane (Cessna 172) from San Antonio, Texas to Asuncion, Paraguay. The flight route took them through the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Georgetown, Guyana, and Brazil.

Willie is survived on earth by his wife Judy of Bulverde, Texas, his daughters Mary Mondragon of Malibu, California (Larry), Linda Clark of Warner-Robins, Georgia, Peggy Alva of San Antonio Texas (Bill Durbin), Holly Rebollo of Bulverde (Edson), and Heather Hileman Carlos of Spring Branch (Cerney); his grandchildren, James Brian Clark, Gloria Lauren Clark, Chase McGarity, Taylor Carlos, Emily Gwinn, Kendall McGarity, Carson McGarity, Alex Rebollo, Zachary Carlos, Bryce Carlos, Landon Rebollo, Cameron Rebollo, Brinklee Carlos; and finally, his brother Hilario Alva of Anchorage, Alaska (Aiko), the last surviving member of the original Alva squadron.

Celebration of Life Services for Willie will be held on Tuesday, August 8, 2017 at 10:30 AM at the Community Bible Church of Bulverde at 7100 - 281 North in Spring Branch, Texas. At 1:15 pm the same day, his earthly remains will be laid to rest at the National Cemetery at Fort Sam Houston. Willie will receive full Military Honors, and the burial ceremony will be highlighted by a fly-over by one of his former flight students. Returning to the Community Bible Church of Bulverde for the reception at 2:30 PM.

Willie Alva was an amazing man who touched many people during his short 85 years on earth. Like the pilot he was, he took life in measured terms and was always calm in the face of adversity. Although he came into this world poor, he has left a rich and lasting legacy of loving friends and family.

The great flight controller has called Willie home. Sadly, his salvation has become our shared loss. But all take note— in our darkest moments of despair, if we turn our gaze towards the heavens above, we may see a solo plane gently dip its wings to earth, as Willie's final gesture to the many loved ones he has left here on the ground.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Willie's name to the Community Bible Church of Bulverde,

10:30 A.M.

1:15 P.M.

Interment Full Military Honors will follow in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery. Pallbearers; Brian Clark, Chase McGarrity, Bill Durbin, Larry Mongragon, Edson Rebello, Cerney Carlos, John Alva, Nieves Garcia and Honorary Pallbearer, Larry Alva.

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Porter Loring Mortuary North

2102 North Loop 1604 East
San Antonio, TX 78232
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