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Retired Capt. William A. Meeley Jr., 62, of Indiana, formerly of California, died peacefully Oct. 26, 2012, surrounded by family, after a six-year fight with melanoma.

He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Joanne; and their daughters Tricia, Kate and Elizabeth (Max Wilson); and his cherished “Puddin’,” his granddaughter, Charlotte.

He lived life fully, setting an example grounded in great personal courage, wit and integrity. He had a distinguished 25-year career as a Navy helicopter pilot, test pilot and leader. He deployed in support of mine warfare and logistic operations to England, the Suez Canal and Italy. He was one of the first Navy pilots to qualify for helicopter aerial (in-flight) refueling operations and flew the first coast-to-coast, non-stop demonstration of an RH-53D helicopter using in-flight refueling. He flew helicopters in Antarctica in support of the National Science Foundation and Operation Deep Freeze and was honored to have a weather station named for him.

He qualified as a naval test pilot in 1983, serving multiple tours of duty at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, the Center of Excellence for Navy and Marine Corps flight test programs and commanded VT-27, a Naval Aviation training squadron at NAS Corpus Christie, Texas.

His passion for flying continued after his retirement from the Navy in his role as a flight test pilot with United Airlines for 15 years. He retired in September 2012.

He was preceded in death by his father, William A. Meeley Sr.; and his sister, Ellen Ann (Lepper). He is also survived by his mother, Mary Ellen (McElwee); and his siblings, Mary (companion, Greg Koch), Carolyn (Chuck Rose), Stephen (Stacye), John (Donna), Robert (Liz) and Brian (Sybil); and a multitude of nieces, nephews, in-laws, out-laws, cousins and friends.

In keeping with his Irish heritage, family and friends gathered at a pub on Oct. 29 to celebrate his life. On the following day, a Mass of the Resurrection was celebrated at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church in Carmel, Ind. He will be inurned with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on Tuesday, Feb. 26, at 3 p.m.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Melanoma Research Foundation at

Arrangements were handled by Leppert Mortuary in Indiana.