Oxley-Heard Funeral Home has been serving the community since 1931.
William Rabitaille

William Rabitaille

January 9, 1933 - May 4, 2019     Age: 86

William O. Rabitaille died peacefully on Saturday, May 4, 2019.  On the day he passed, he was surrounded by people he loved and present in the minds of those who cherished him.

Bill was born in Groton, Connecticut on January 9, 1933.  He was the fourth child of Joseph A. Rabitaille and Williamina Greig.  Three brothers, Paul, Joseph, and Alex pre-deceased him.  His younger sister Shirley Viveiros lives in Tucson, Arizona. 

After serving in the Korean War, Bill returned home to marry the love his life, Patricia Ann Reilly on May 28, 1955.  He co-founded R&D Construction in Groton and molded it into a successful property management corporation, allowing him to retire at the age of 51.  He then relocated to Fernandina Beach, Florida where he founded Amelia Island Aerial Tours.  Miraculously, he survived a single engine plane crash in 2000 that left him with multiple injuries.  With grit, faith, and determination he made a remarkable recovery.

Bill is survived by his wife Pat and will be remembered as a loving husband for just shy of 64 years who took endless pleasure in making her happy.  He prided in his French-Canadian ancestry and felt that made him a natural romantic.  Bill and Pat suffered the loss of their first infant son, Jeffrey (d 1956) but he was blessed to be survived by 3 children: Renee Smith of Fernandina Beach, FL, Greig Rabitaille and his wife Beth of Ormond Beach, FL, and Shelly Benbow of Fernandina, FL.  His children will remember him always for his quick wit and a constant example of strength, duty, compassion and love. 

Papa is further survived by his 6 grandchildren: Bill Rabitaille and his wife Rebecca of Farmington, CT, Reilly Rabitaille of Orlando, FL, Brian Rabitaille and his wife Regina of Orlando, FL, Patrick Rabitaille and his fiancé Courtney Hall of Ormond Beach, FL, Caitlyn Benbow of Belton, South Carolina, and Robert Benbow Jr. of Athens, Georgia.  He also has 5 great-grandchildren:  Owen (9), Emma (7), Elizabeth (5), Joseph (3) and Greig (11mos).  Love you always, Pop!

“[Our] life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man.  [We’re] just a living legacy to the leader of the band.”  — Dan Fogelberg

Funeral services will be at 10:00 am on Saturday, May 11, 2019 at the Burgess Chapel of Oxley-Heard Funeral Home with a Celebration of Life service to follow.

The family will receive friends from 9:00am until the hour of service at the funeral home.

He will be laid to rest in Bosque Bello Cemetery.   

Memorial contributions may be made in his name to Community Hospice of N.E. Florida, 4266 Sunbeam Road, Jacksonville, Florida 32257

11 Condolences

  • Ben Shave Posted May 6, 2019 11:20 am

    What a great guy. Bill was such fun to be around. He surely will be missed. May he be near
    God forever

  • Sandy Edinger Posted May 6, 2019 11:42 am

    I am so very sorry for your loss. Sending love and holding you all in my thoughts and prayers!

  • Lynde Jones Posted May 6, 2019 3:31 pm

    The pearly gates opened and welcomed a loving kind soul when Bill left us and departed for heaven. Everyone who ever knew him loved his wise kind nature and happy laugh. I love you Bill and miss you already while fondly remembering all our visits together. You’ll be missed and forever be in my heart!!

  • Mike & Maureen Mullaney Posted May 8, 2019 9:36 pm

    Bill was such a great friend of ours, we have such great memories with both Pat and his family that will last a lifetime. Bill was always willing to lend a helping hand and we always had many laughs along the way. Bill we know you are at peace now, no more pain and resting with our Lord waiting to greet each one of us when our time comes. We love you and will miss you but will never forget you.. MAY YOU REST IN PEACE AMEN??

  • Orchis moon and family, especially Rob Posted May 10, 2019 8:41 am

    Our condolences to bill’s wife,Pat and his children. I remember Bill and mike paneling our house years ago. They were fun!

  • Marilyn Baird Posted May 10, 2019 10:15 am

    Pat and family so sorry to read of your loss. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Sincerely, Marilyn

  • Ann Southard Danenberg Posted May 10, 2019 11:11 am

    Pat, prayers for you and your family. Bill was a cherished member of Groton Heights Elementary School, Class of 1947 and Fitch High School, Class of 1951. The class has kept in touch over the years…decades… and will miss him. Always a fun, caring and generous guy.

  • Richard Palmieri Posted May 11, 2019 7:38 am

    I will always remember Bill and you and family for your efforts in renovating Sacred Heart Church. My deepest sympathies to you and your family.

  • Lloyd & Carol Fernald Posted May 11, 2019 10:06 am

    We will always remember Bill for his many wonderful characteristics. Bill’s humor and friendly disposition highlighted any encounter throughout the years. He will not be forgotten by anyone he met. May he Rest In Peace with our Lord!

  • George Viveiros Posted May 12, 2019 7:32 pm

    Uncle Bill’s the larger than life charming&vivacious character right out of a novel: His happy good-natured and caring disposition complemented his serious, ever-thoughtful business acumen. He openly loves his family – and always included visiting extended family with daily treats of big hugs when he came home from work – immediately after which he would seriously look me straight in my eyes to tell me he expected the very best out of me: “work hard, keep your nose clean and always be kind to others!” He’s a force of nature for good in this world who deftly managed to bring out the best in everyone he met. Thank you, Uncle Bill! RIP

  • katherine bland Posted May 20, 2019 7:43 pm

    Oh Pat–I have lost touch with my wonderful friend. Bill will be missed dearly. I feel honored to have known him. He was a great guy, upbeat and positive with his wonderful smile and sense of humor. I hope to see you soon.

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