Walter Hiller, age 86, of St. Francis, died at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids on July 4, 2020. Visitation will be from 4:00 – 8:00 P.M., with a prayer service at 7:30, on Wednesday, July 8th at Strike Life Tributes in Isanti. A Memorial Service will be held at 2:00 P.M. on Thursday, July 9th with visitation 1 hour prior, also at Strike Life Tributes in Isanti. Interment will be in Strike Cemetery.
Walter Hiller, 86, of St. Francis, MN passed away on July 4, 2020. After saying goodbye to his loved ones on Earth, he mounted that beautiful steed of his and galloped to the heavens, where so many family and friends were waiting for his joyous reunion.
Walt loved his country and proudly served in the US Air Force for twenty years, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. He served primarily as a pilot, moving everything from troops to priceless cargo of classified nature around the world. The value of these classified cargo missions was not measured in dollars and cents, rather calculated in amount of the national debt. He devoted his military service to flying operations, training, and control of heavy transport aircraft. He rapidly advanced his career in the Air Force to the position of Executive Director for Operations of a Wing of C-141 Starlifter aircraft in the Military Airlift Command. For the results of his meticulous performance in this position, he was awarded the coveted “Meritorious Service Medal”. During his service, he was the pilot-in-command for nearly 19,000 hours on 10 different types of airplanes; this included over 285 combat mission flights in Southeast Asia. He maintained instructor pilot status for C-141 and C-130 aircrafts throughout his tenure. When he wasn’t flying, Walt worked in Air Force operations, managing and directing activities in the Military Airlift Commands’ Operations. During his service, he moved his family around the globe, allowing them to experience local culture in Europe, Japan, Guam, and several states in the USA. After retirement, Walt was active in the local American Legion.
After retiring from the Air Force, Walt used his leadership skills in the public and private sectors. He worked in operations for a municipal engineering firm and served as their company pilot. After this, he ventured into making wooden toys, eventually running a wooden toy factory that employed senior citizens that he fondly referred to as his elves. He then put his energy into the local community, coordinating city-wide environmental programs and elected to be the city’s Liaison for the Metropolitan Council and the Minnesota League of Municipalities. Following this, he had a very successful career with Aid Association for Lutherans. He and Phyllis enjoyed many trips that were rewards for his outstanding sales. These trips undoubtedly led to their love for cruising, savoring over two dozen cruises in waters around the world. Walt and Phyllis especially cherished their last cruise in January, when they cruised with their granddaughter and her friend Zach. For 23 years, Walt and Phyllis wintered in Florida, where they developed lasting friendships. Walt easily moved into leadership roles, taking on a heroic role after the park was hit by Hurricane Charley. He had many willing participants to help with his shenanigans, bringing laughter and joy to friends in the community.
He was a natural athlete – sports and vigorous activity came naturally. While attending St. Francis High School in 1950, Walt set a state record in football for a 62-yard field goal, and the record stood for 53 years. Walt enjoyed hunting and fishing around the globe. Walt was always ready to go; be it hunting wild boar in Guam, elk in Colorado, or deer in the local area; fishing in nearly any type of water, deep sea fishing or watching a bobber on Blue Lake at the secret spot that always yielded sunfish for a fish fry. He especially enjoyed introducing new hunters to the sport, beaming with pride as he told hunting stories that involved his grandson. He loved to teach new skills to others – this goes back to his being a flight instructor in the military.
Walt held the permanent auction bidder number of “1” for many of the local auctioneers. He loved auctions, especially the camaraderie and quest for treasure. He loved to find bargains or items that needed repair – keeping him busy, restoring life to discarded items. He always had a twinkle in his eye when giving tours of his sales barn. Walt had a wonderful sense of humor and quick wit; one could count on having a good chuckle whenever being with Walt.
Walt was predeceased by two brothers, Charlie and Henry. Left to cherish his memory include wife Phyllis, with whom he shared 71 years of his life; children Wesley, Cindy, Carolyn (Jeff), and Elizabeth (Paul); his beloved grandchildren Lauren and Ethan; sister Helen Palmer and brother Ralph (Marlys); sisters-in-law Violet Hiller and Doris Hiller; countless nieces and nephews; and friends he made practically every time he ventured out. He will be dearly missed by all who knew him.