William O. Lessard, Lt. Col USAF Ret., born December 24th, 1932 in Springfield Ma. to William J. and Amanda Lessard and died July 27, 2020 in Homestead, FL.
He is survived by his wife Patricia Lessard, daughter Gigi Mashburn (Mike Mashburn) Hood River, OR and daughter Wendy Wilber, Gainesville, FL and grandchildren William Mashburn, Lydia Mashburn, and Sophia Wilber, and sisters Beverly Hoover and Pauline McDonough, also step children Michael Frey, West Kendall, FL and Vickye Ashton, San Jose, CA.
Predeceased by his wife of 50 years Amelia ‘Suzie’ Lessard and daughter Mona Lessard Mead, and sister Rita Courchene.
Bill grew up in Jaffrey, NH where he loved hunting and exploring. He attended UNH and began his career in the USAF where he served in the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He was a decorated fighter pilot and flew 100 combat missions in his favorite jets the F-105 and F-104. He retired from the Air Force and Air Force Reserves after 27 years of service.
After his Air Force active duty he settled in to farming in the Redlands in 1968 while still serving in the Air Force Reserves. Bill was always an innovator and was up for trying something new. He grew many different types of fruit trees in addition to avocados and mangos. He was a member of the South Florida Rare Fruit Council and the founding president of the Tropical Fruit and Vegetable Society of Redland. He was well known for his fruit tree and banana nursery. He loved travelling to Central and South America looking for new fruits to bring back to Florida. The sugar apple ‘Lessard Thai’ bears his name and his book, “The Complete Book of Bananas” is still used as a banana growing resource.
He was an avid fisherman and SCUBA and free diver. If he couldn’t catch the fish on a hook and line he was over the side with his spear gun.
He was woodturner and a past president of the South Florida Woodturners guild. He enjoyed working with the wood and mentoring new turners.
Bill was a member of the St. John’s Episcopal Church community and relied heavily on his Christian faith.
Deep into his retirement he loved to play cribbage and enjoy wine or a rum and tonic and watch the Dolphins lose.
Arrangements made by Branam funeral home.
The memorial service will be delayed due to COVID-19. An apt expression of condolence would be to plant a fruit tree in his honor.