Floyd Richard Waller, “Dick”
Dick Waller was born in Lansing, Michigan on January 31, 1930, to Floyd J. and Miriam (Jacobs) Waller. At age five, he survived Bright’s disease and later moved to live on his grandmother’s farm. Growing up on a dairy farm developed in him a strong work ethic and the skills needed to keep equipment functioning. Those traits would prove very helpful during his 21 years of service in the U.S. Air Force, in which he enlisted at age 18. Most of his service was in the Strategic Air Command Wing as a crew chief, flight chief, and line chief for bomber squadrons. He first worked on B-36 bombers in Ft. Worth, TX and served as a crew chief. On one trip overseas, he had to have part of an engine cowling repaired. This required him to find his way down the back alleys of Casa Blanca, Morocco to locate a blacksmith that could do the welding he needed with hand-operated bellows. He also brought home a camel saddle from that trip!
In 1957 he was trained at the Boeing plant in Seattle and assigned as crew chief to bring the first B-52 to Carlswell AFB in Ft. Worth, TX. He was later stationed with a new B-52 squadron at Clinton Sherman AFB, and later moved his wife and five children under 9 years old to Ramey AFB in Puerto Rico. One time, his B-52 was refueled in the air for 4 days or more during the Cuban Missile Crisis. After three years at Ramey, he was stationed at Bunker Hill, Indiana as a flight chief for the B-58 supersonic bomber, which required more maintenance time than any other plane. Even so, he was awarded maintenance man of the month for his B-58 squadron. When deployed to Vietnam, he served as Line Chief at Tuy Hua Air Base, north of Na Trang. It was a stressful time of trying to maintain C-130s and other planes, while several were blown up on the tarmac. Over the years, Dick Waller received many citations for his dedication and skill, and was awarded the Vietnam Service Medal and the US Air Force Commendation Medal.
Floyd retired from active duty in February, 1969 and moved his family to Albuquerque, NM that summer. He and his first wife, Myrna Lorraine Anthony, were married for twenty-eight years and had five children, who all attended schools in Albuquerque. In order to support his family well, Floyd trained to become a tractor-trailer driver. He soon was able to buy his own truck and became an independent owner-operator in the long-haul freight industry for 45 years.
F. R. Waller Trucking stayed busy until Floyd turned 86. It is estimated that he hauled freight coast to coast over three million miles. While on the road, he often helped others who needed it, sometimes being a needed friendly ear, or other times bringing young people home to find food, rest, and a new direction. Dick was kind and generous whether you met him in California, Florida or Farmington, NM.
A lifetime learner, while trucking, he decided to pursue flight instruction and received his private pilot’s license and completed his instrument certification. Dick encouraged his children to learn and be resourceful as well, and never minded having a grandchild tinker and push buttons in his truck. Always healthy, and often mistaken for a man half his age, he enjoyed playing sports like softball, bowling, tennis, and ice skating. He could also be found watching sports of any kind, especially a Sunday afternoon Dallas Cowboys game. And he proudly supported the training of U.S. Olympic athletes. He traveled often to spend time with his children, grandchildren and great-grands, even as far as New Zealand! You could find him throwing ball, playing (winning!) at cards, board games, ping-pong, pool, or attending an award ceremony or Grandparent’s Day at a school. He would even two-step at a ballroom dance if you asked him.
A series of strokes since November of 2017 contributed to a progressive decline in Floyd’s mobility and health. He remained kind and optimistic under very difficult circumstances, often cracking up the staff with his witty comments. His family visited often and always heard from caregivers how much they appreciated his kind and gentle manner. Floyd quietly passed away at his Albuquerque nursing home on June 7, 2023. He was 93 years old. “Dad,” “Pops,” and “Big Poppy,” will be greatly missed by his family. He is survived by daughters Pamela J. Donahoo of Edmond, OK and Katherine L. Wehmeir of Washington, D.C., sons Martin R. Waller and Lyman R. Waller of Albuquerque, and Randall M. Waller of Ocala, FL; granddaughters Shauna (Donahoo) Thomas of Edmond, OK, Brenda (Gooch) Wells of Waipu, New Zealand, and grandson Lyman Brett Waller of Albuquerque; great-grandsons Seth, Luke, Elijah, and Nathan Thomas of Edmond, OK, and Damian Bruce, Carlos Wells and great-granddaughter Savannah Wells of New Zealand.