Rodney Maurice Randall was born Dec. 21, 1916 in Berkeley, Calif., to Maurice W. and Winifred (Sexton) Randall. After graduation from high school in Berkeley, he attended college of the Pacific in Stockton for three years. Money became tight and Rod left school and found a job as a passenger agent for United Airlines. Flying became Rod’s passion. He soon applied for cadet training to become a pilot.
While waiting to enlist as a cadet, he worked for the Emporium in San Francisco and was assigned to the receiving department. A friend set up a blind date for Rod and he discovered it was Dorothy, a girl from the marking section of the Emporium. A romance soon blossomed and Rod was married to Dorothy Nightingale on May 21, 1942 in Mill Valley, Calif.
On Dec. 7, 1941, World War II began. Rod went on active duty with the U.S. Army Air Force and began his training as a pilot at Oxnard, Bakersfield and Stockton, Calif., aboard the PT-12 (AT-6). After obtaining his wings, Rod was sent to flight instructor’s school and trained on the twin engine Curtis AT-9. He was then transferred to Roswell, N.M.. Rod became a single engine instructor on the Cessna AT-17. He began flying the B-17 and the B-29. He spent the remainder of the war as a training instructor at Roswell.
Rod was discharged in January of 1946 as a captain. He was soon hired by United Airlines as a pilot. He flew intermittently for United for three years, but during the winter months, flights were limited due to weather.
Rod moved to Seattle and found temporary work flying non-scheduled flights to Alaska and elsewhere aboard DC-3’s. After six months, he was hired by Boeing Aircraft as a test pilot and worked for Boeing for the next 32 years.
Rod flew the C-97 Stratocruiser, which Boeing based on the B-29 bomber. The Stratocruiser became Boeing’s first luxury commercial aircraft. He also flew the B-50 bomber and the B-47. He was transferred to Wichita, Kansas, where he remained for 25 years. From 1951 to 1963 he flew the B-47, a six-engine swept wing bomber with a three-man crew. He flew the B-52 upgraded models and became Chief Pilot for the production line.
In 1977, he was transferred to Alamogordo, N.M., where he flew B-52’s with the new Short Range Attack Missile (SHRAM) and led a flight crew task force for missile development. He became the Air Base Manager for Alamogorda, working up to the launch of a new aircraft/missile system.
Rod returned to Wichita. Flying was slowing down and the B-52 was coming to the end of its military life. He stopped flying and became head of the Safety Department for Boeing. Rod was transferred to Seattle. For a time he was assigned to Lancaster, Calif., Air Force Base, an experimental center for the new SHRAM missiles.
Rod returned to Seattle, retired from Boeing in 1980 and moved to Whidbey Island. Coupeville became his permanent home. He was preceded in death by his wife Dorothy. Rod had a good friend, Doris Jones, from the church choir. Following the deaths of Dorothy and Doris’ husband, Rod and Doris began dating. They fell in loved and on Feb. 19, 2005 they were married in Des Moines by the Rev. Jack M. Tuell, Bishop (Ret.).
Rod was a member of the Coupeville United Methodist Church and sang in the choir for many years. He was also a very active member of the Coupeville Lions Club, serving on numerous committees and attending zone and district conferences on a regular basis. In the local club he worked his way up the ladder to become president for the year 1985-86.
Rod enjoyed golf, bowling and fishing. Above all, he loved to travel. He and Doris made a cross country trip by train in the fall of 2006, picking up a car in New York, touring that state as well as New England, to enjoy the autumn color. Their last trip by auto was to Southern California to celebrate Thanksgiving and Rod’s 90th birthday with his family. In the spring of ’06 they had taken a ferry trip to Alaska, something that Rod enjoyed immensely. Books, computers and photography were also a very important part of his life.
Rod is survived by his beloved wife Doris at the family home; by his daughter Judy Fitzgerald and husband Joe of LaQuinta, Calif.; two sons, Jim Randall and wife Ann of Mesa, Az., and Steve Randall and wife Mary of Lewellen, Neb.; and step-son, Stuart Austin and wife Frances of Nanaimo, B.C.; his grandchildren, Cassie Lorge and husband Alex of Los Angeles, Ryan Fitzgerald, Blair Randall and Rachel, of San Francisco, Ashley Randall of Santa Monica, and step-granddaughter Keren Miller of Gibsons of British Columbia.
Memorial services for Rodney Randall will be celebrated at the Coupeville United Methodist Church on Saturday, March 10, at 1 p.m. with the Dr. Mary Boyd officiating. Family inurnment will be held Sunnyside Cemetery, Coupeville. A reception for family and friends will follow the memorial service, in the church fellowship hall.
Arrangements are entrusted to Burley Funeral Chapel, Oak Harbor.