Robert Lee Williams


1962 - Slick Airways tail view of DC-6

1963 Bob in front of Frontier Airlines DC-3

1956 Bob - Junior class at South High, Salt Lake City, UT

1961 Bob holding C-46 prop on ramp in Bakwanga, Congo

1962 Slick Airways - Bob in cockpit

1943 Bob at about 4 years of age

Frontier Airlines DC-3

1975 Bob Water skiing in Utah mountain reservoir

Bob skiing in Utah

1999 Bob in front of Continental Airlines DC-9 MD80 Retirement Trip

1967 Bob and Su Passport Picture

1963 Sue Howard, Frontier Airlines Stewardess

Frontier Airlines flight crew recruitment pamphlet cover

Bob as captain on DC-9

1961 Robert L. Williams Passport Picture

1999 in Continental Airline Uniform

Bernadine Dr






Born: April 22, 1939

Passed on: September 7, 2018

Robert Lee Williams

Born April 22, 1939 in American Fork, UT. He was raised by Bill and Edna Williams. He grew up in Pleasant Grove, UT, Rock Springs, WY and Salt Lake City, UT. Graduated from South High School class of 1957 and attended Westminster College. He forever and always wanted to be a pilot. He took his first flying lesson at 13 years of age at Thompson Flying Service at the Salt Lake airport. He solo’d on his 16th birthday. He went on to instruct in Burbank, CA before moving to Luxembourg Europe where he flew for the United Nations into the Belgium Congo and through the Middle East. Upon returning to the USA he flew for Slick Airways hauling cargo. He hired on with Frontier Airlines in May 1963 as a co-pilot on the DC-3. He met his wife, Sue Howard, Stewardess. They were married December 7, 1963 at the Lowry Air Force base chapel in Denver, CO. They were married 54 years and had three children, Andrew Martin (3/30/66), Anne (12/31/68) and Robert Howard (4/16/73). He became captain for Frontier in 1977. After retiring at the mandatory age of 60, he went on to work as a check airmen for Boeing out of Long Beach, CA. He spent time after 9/11 working for Homeland Security, federalizing TSA agents. He worked as director of Safety and Training for Alpine Air at the Provo, UT airport. He finally retired in 2016. Bob was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has spent most of his life in service to the church and others. He particularly enjoyed teaching Gospel Doctrine and 16-17 year olds in Sunday school. He served on numerous High Councils, in 3 Bishopric, and was Bishop in Aurora, CO and Conroe, TX. He served as an ordinance worker in the Denver, CO temple. He especially time enjoyed time with his wife and kids and experienced different countries, languages and cultures. He and his wife, Sue, have three grandkids, Benton Christensen (Kacey) Placerville, CA, Connor Agan, Rancho Murieta, CA and Addison Williams, Keller, TX. Survived by his wife Sue, his three kids and three grandkids, his brother Elliott Williams (Stephanie) Salt Lake City, UT, various beloved nieces and nephews. Preceded in death by parents, William and Edna Williams, his sister Kathleen Vordos, brother Edward Williams and nephew Steven Vordos. Services will be September 15, 2018 at the LDS meeting house at 475 N 700 E, Pleasant Grove, UT. Viewing at the LDS meeting house Friday, September 14, 2018 from 6-8pm and from 9-10:30 prior to the Saturday services. Burial will be at the Pleasant Grove cemetery.

{The following are excerpts from his autobiography.}

I remember on a hot summer’s day when we {Bob and Cousin Grant Nielsen} finally got tired of shooting grasshoppers with our homemade rubber band guns. We found a calf grazing on the Church lawn and decided to tame this “wild” bucking bull. I went first, but before all my weight had settled on his back, he took off. I did a fast, unexpected, back flip and crashed flat on my back on the grass with my wind knocked out of me. Grant didn’t do much better so we looked elsewhere for adventure. We found our next challenge in a big old pine tree next to the Church. It was a big round hornet’s nest that looked as big as a basketball. The trick was to find a stick long enough, so we could knock the nest down and still have enough time for a hasty retreat. The day ended laying in a bathtub mixture of water and baking soda trying to sooth the six bee stings I had gotten.

Another early childhood remembrance was one afternoon while in Pleasant Grove I heard a bell ringing from the city administration building. I ran to my grandmother Christiansen who informed me that the World War II was over and my Uncle John (Christiansen) would be coming home soon.

Not long after that one of the Fugal boys (Boyd Fugal, a local family) who was a pilot in the Navy made a low pass in his blue Navy fighter right over my grandparent’s house. I shall never forget my excitement of seeing and hearing that single engine dive-bomber roar past our house. I think my love for flying started at that moment.


It was around this time, while I twelve years old that I started learning about my love for flying. I had my very first ride in an airplane with my Uncle Dick Gourley. He and my father (Lee Gourley) owned a single engine Aircoupe that they kept at the Provo airport, so one day my Uncle Dick decided to take me for a ride. I was so scared that I put both of my arms under the seat belt for the entire flight, so I wouldn’t fall out.

When I moved to Salt Lake I discovered that by riding the public bus and transferring downtown I could go all the way to the Salt Lake Airport, so almost every Saturday I would leave early and spent most of the day at the airport. It wasn’t like it is today, with the tight security. I could walk anywhere and sit in almost any airplane that was parked and left empty. I can still remember the sights, smells and excitement as I would spend my days looking for adventure or seeing if I could find somebody who would take me for a ride in their airplane.

I would crawl into any airplane that was left unlocked to spend hours feeling the controls and studying every instrument. My lunch would always be the same. I would buy a hamburger and fries from the terminal café (to go) and then I would buy a grape (Nehi) drink from the pop machine at Thompson Flying Service and then search for an airplane to sit in the pilot’s seat while I enjoyed my favorite lunch. This was surely heaven to a 12-year-old “airport bum.”

One of my (adult) friends at the airport was a woman who was the secretary for the FAA and she had taken me flying more than once. After one of our flights she asked me when I was going to start taking lessons. To this point I hadn’t dreamed that I could start learning how to fly at the age of 13 years old, but it soon became an obsession. I quickly became a paperboy and started delivering the newspaper every morning, so I could afford to take two 30-min lessons per month. My first flying lesson was in a Cessna 140 (tail dragger) rented from Thompson’s Flying Service. I had to get there early, for my lesson, so I could find enough seat cushions, so I could sit high enough to see over the instrument panel and far enough forward to reach the rudder pedals. My first flight instructor was James (Jim) Green who was very patient and understanding of my love for flying. I don’t remember anything about that first lesson other than it seemed like a dream that I was afraid I would awake from.

Well, the day finally came, several years later, when I turned the legal age of 16 years old, which was the minimum age to solo an aircraft and fly by myself. My stepfather, Bill had given me the choice of either getting my driver’s license, or doing my first solo. I choose to solo, so on May 6, 1955 in a yellow Cessna 140 N72575 I became a pilot. It was a beautiful warm Spring day when my instructor (James F. Green) climbed out of the aircraft and told me to take it around the pattern a couple of times by myself. I taxied out for takeoff and following the run up of the engine my legs started shaking so bad I had to sit for about ten minutes trying to decide if it was such a good idea. After mustering up my courage I called the tower and told them I was ready. The Cessna 140 lifted off earlier than normal, because of the less weight with my instructor’s seat being vacant. My first landing floated farther down the runway, but was acceptable. That day was to change my life, because I was hooked forever on flying.

“When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the Earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” – Leonardo da Vinci

I also love the words, written by one of my favorite authors, Ernest Hemingway when he said;

“You love a lot of things if you live around them, but there
isn’t any woman and there isn’t any horse, nor any before
nor any after, that is as lovely as a great airplane, and men
who love them are faithful to them even though they leave
them for others. A man has only one virginity to lose in
fighters, and if it is a lovely plane he loses it to, there his
heart will ever be.”

At the age of 16 years old I went to work for Thompson Flying Service as a gas boy on the flight line. I made $1.00 per hour gassing airplanes and working around airplanes. This was heaven! I rarely had much money left in my paycheck after they deducted my use of their planes to build my flying time, but it didn’t matter. I was a true “airport bum.” I spent all of my time at the Salt Lake airport and I would go flying with anyone, just for the ride. While I was building up my solo hours I would take some of my friends flying with me, even though it was illegal, because I wasn’t licensed to carry passengers.

Finally, after I turned 17 years old I passed my FAA written and on June 11, 1956 I passed my Private Pilot flight test and now it was legal for me to take passengers.

At eighteen, the minimum FAA age limit, I passed my Commercial License and now I could legally get paid for flying. Much to my distress no one wanted to pay me …..yet.

At nineteen, the minimum FAA age limit, I passed my instructor rating and finally someone was willing to pay me to teach them to fly. I free-lanced as an instructor while I was going to college, but the lure was too great, so I quit school after one year at Westminster College so I could devote all of my time to flying.

(He went on to instruct in Burbank, CA before moving to Luxembourg Europe where he flew for the United Nations into the Belgium Congo and through the Middle East. Upon returning to the USA he flew for Slick Airways hauling cargo. He hired on with Frontier Airlines in May 1963 as a co-pilot on the DC-3.)

I put in an application with a local airline called Frontier Airlines. They had a base in Salt Lake, with their home office in Denver. I passed all their requirements and was hired on May 10th, 1963 and assigned as a First Officer on the DC-3 based in Denver. After 3 weeks in school I was a brand new co-pilot and in June I was assigned a 3 day trip up to North Dakota with Captain Pete Lamkin and a cute stewardess named Sue Howard. Little would I know that my life would change after this fateful trip.

We flew up to Rapid City, SD and then on to Bismark, ND and on to Minot, ND. We spent the night in Minot and we as a crew went to dinner that night. The next morning was an early departure and Sue was sitting on her suitcase in the back area behind the ticket counter. As I saw her sitting there, without any previous thought or discussion, I walked up and gave her a kiss on the lips. She was as surprised as I was, but she didn’t push me away or slap me, so I guess she thought I was okeh.

There are some who say that love at first sight is just a dream, but I am here to testify that it was true in my case, because 6 days later I asked Sue Howard to marry me. We were on our first date up to Central City to see the opera called “Don Giovante” and I asked her if she would marry me. She too knew that we were meant for each other, but she wanted to think about it. It was the next night, or 7 days after we had met, that she accepted my proposal and said she would marry me.

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