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William Albert Rash, Senior


Last updated 6/14/2007 at Noon

William Albert Rash, Senior, 88, a 31-year resident of Fallbrook, died of natural causes on May 24, 2007, at Mission Regional Medical Center in Mission Viejo, CA. He moved to Mission Viejo in March 2006.

He was born April 28, 1919, in Eldora, IA, where his parents had a farm. He spent his youth in and around Des Moines, IA, where he attended Theodore High School and graduated in 1937. Bill excelled in academics and athletics, was the MVP of his track and field team and, in his senior year, won the Iowa State Championships in the 100- and 200-yard dashes. The track meet announcer, who also awarded the championship medals that day, was Ronald “Dutch” Reagan. Upon graduation, Bill was awarded the track and field scholarship to Grinell University in Iowa. After his freshman year, Bill won a scholarship to Indiana University for track and field and was a member of the Hoosier’s national championship teams in the springs of 1940 and 1941. He was also a varsity cheerleader at Indiana.

Joining the Marine Corps in September 1941, Bill attended boot camp in San Diego and was the “honor” graduate of his class. He carried the Marine Corps flag while leading six battalions of recruits at graduation ceremonies. He served in San Diego and at Camp Miramar as a MP and later as a drill instructor during 1942, training both the 1st and 2nd Marine Division to join the war effort with MAG (Marine Air Group) 21. He spent time training at Munda and Guadalcanal before going into action in the landings at Bougainville, where the marines took 33 percent casualties on the first day. Bill fought through the entire campaign, then spent time training on Entiwetok atoll. In early 1944, he took part in the landings on the island of Guam where, again, casualties were high. Bill’s MAG 21 group helped build the airfields on both Bougainville and Guam, which enabled US fighter planes and, later, bombers to land and fly missions in support of our campaigns on Rabaul, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. During the two campaigns, he rose in rank to Master Sergeant.

Bill returned home to Long Beach in late December 1944 and was reunited with his sweetheart, Zuda Stamper, and they were married in February 1945. He opened a Chevron gas station on the corner of Brookhurst and Chapman Avenues in Garden Grove and, later, a new station in Laguna Hills. He retired to the good life, owning an avocado ranch in Fallbrook in 1975. In his spare time, Bill enjoyed riding horses and was a member of the “Las Tortugas Riders” and rode in the annual Swallow Days parade in San Juan Capistrano.

Bill is survived by his wife of 62 years, Zuda Rash, Mission Viejo; son and daughter-in-law William A. Rash, Jr. and Diana, Fallbrook; daughters and sons-in-law Susan J. and Charles Mee, Mission Viejo, and Jennifer L. and Garry Nelson, Lake Forest; grandchildren Zachary, Todd and Jeffrey Mee, Jocelyn Ford, Kathryn Accardi, William A. Rash III and Heather Rash; and great-grandchildren Jake, Savannah and Robert Ford.

He was the consummate companion and a great example to all his family, for which he lived. He was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather and he will be missed by all.

A memorial service was held May 29, 2007, at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Mission Viejo; interment followed on June 6, 2007, at El Toro Memorial Park with Marine honor guard.


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