American Veteran 04

Fred Tenney Pillsbury

January 16, 1936 ~ February 1, 2024 (age 88) 88 Years Old
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Fred Pillsbury Obituary

Fred Tenney Pillsbury, 88, of Atwater, California, passed away peacefully on February 1, 2024.

Fred was born on January 16, 1936 to Gale and Bertha Pillsbury in Newburyport, Massachusetts and grew up in Amesbury, Massachusetts.  Fred graduated from Amesbury High School in 1954. After high school he worked on his uncle’s farm and sawmill until he joined the U.S. Air Force in 1955. 

Fred began his service at the Air Force Aviation Cadet Program in Lackland AFB, TX, where he earned his Commission and Navigator Wings. Fred’s military career spanned 29 ½ years and he was very proud to have served as a B-52 Radar-Navigator/Bombardier during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War.  He flew 120 combat missions during the Vietnam War and amassed 7000 hours in B-52s (B,C,D,F & G Models), as a crewmember, instructor navigator and staff officer. His staff jobs were in Bob/Nav, Intelligence, and Weapons and Nuclear Safety. Fred served in the Strategic Air Command (SAC) - 99th Bomb Wing/346th Bomb Squadron, 28th Bomb Wing/77th Bomb Squadron, 93rd Bomb Wing/328th Bomb Squadron, 43rd Strategic Wing/Intelligence Division and the 93rd Bomb Wing Air Weapons Branch. His tours of duty included Lackland AFB, TX, Harlingen AFB, TX, Mather AFB, CA, Westover AFB, MA, Ellsworth AFB SD, Kadena AB, Okinawa, U-Tapao AB, Thailand, Andersen AFB, Guam and Castle AFB, CA. Fred retired on March 31, 1985 at the rank of Lt. Colonel. Fred then earned his Associate of Arts degree in Business Administration from Merced College and worked as a teacher’s aide at Rivera Middle School for 10 years.

 Fred met Hazel Brown in 1955 and they married on May 5, 1960 in Kensington, New Hampshire. They were married for 43 years before Hazel lost her battle with cancer in 2003. Fred and Hazel had two daughters, Christine Stappenbeck and Laura Fuller. Family was very important to them and they loved spending time with their grandchildren and even “adopted” a few along the way.

Fred was a long time member of New Life Community Church in Atwater, CA. He had a heart of service and after retirement he volunteered many hours with the Cancer Society, TROA, Habitat for Humanity and his beloved Castle Air Museum. He loved being around the airplanes, being a tour guide on the museum grounds and especially inside the B-52 during open-cockpit days. He also enjoyed connecting with the local “ROMEO” (Real Old Men Eating Out) group of military retirees. As a young boy he spent many days deer, pheasant and duck hunting with his dad and his nephew in the woods of New England and loved to share stories of those cherished times. When Fred wasn’t spending time with family or volunteering he could be found working in his yard and keeping the neighborhood sidewalks neat and tidy.

Fred is predeceased by his father and mother, Gale and Bertha Pillsbury, sister and brother-in-law, Nancy and Paulie Hartwell, brother in law, Roland Pare, nephew, Mark Bennett and loving wife, Hazel Brown Pillsbury.

He is survived by his daughters, Christine Stappenbeck (Carl), Laura Fuller (Michael), his grandchildren Nathan Stappenbeck (Bridget), Dennis Fuller (Elizabeth) and Amelia Botteicher (Dylan), great-grandchildren Collin, Mason, Westin, Seth and Hannah Stappenbeck, Hank and Gus Fuller and James Botteicher, sister, Jane Pare’, brother in law, Leonard Brown (Judy) along with extended family and many dear friends.

Funeral Service will be held Thursday, February 15, 2024 at 10:00 am at New Life Community Church, 2124 First Street, Atwater. Reception to follow at Castle Air Museum at 11:00 am. Burial will be Thursday, February 22, 2024 at San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery, 32053 West McCabe Road, Santa Nella, California.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to: Castle Air Museum Foundation or Habitat for Humanity. 

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Funeral Service
February 15, 2024

10:00 AM
New Life Community Church
2124 First St.
Atwater, CA 95301

February 22, 2024

10:30 AM
San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery
32053 West McCabe Rd
Santa Nella, CA 95322


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