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