Wilbur G. Hildreth, of Sagaponack, died with family at his bedside at Southampton Hospital on Friday, January 13, after a courageous battle with cancer. He was 54.
Born on February 19, 1957, in Manhasset, Billy, as he was known, grew up in Glen Head. He always knew he wanted to be a pilot and was single-minded in his career goal. After high school, he attended the Florida Institute of Technology and received his Bachelor of Science degree in air commerce flight sciences. After graduation in 1980, he distinguished himself by being the youngest pilot to be recruited by a major airline. He flew as commercial transport pilot for Northwest Airlines for more than 15 years and held more than 23 certifications with more than 50,000 hours of flight time. After his retirement from the airlines, he was a successful commercial leasing broker in Manhattan and later formed his own company, Hildreth Real Estate, in Sagaponack. He continued to fly as a private pilot and in pursuit of his ultimate dream he most recently flew a T16 Texan and P51 Mustang. When he wasn’t piloting or instructing, he was a motorcycle enthusiast often seen riding around Sagaponack on his Harley Davidson.
“Billy touched many lives with his generosity and compassion,” survivors said. He was also known for his vivacious character and wicked sense of humor, which he maintained all the way to the end.
Son of the late Wilbur L. Hildreth, he is survived by his mother, Louise Bruno Hildreth of Glen Cove; siblings, Joy Hildreth of Glen Cove and Leland Hildreth of Florida; his life partner of 11 years, Marie-Christine Gonzalez of Sagaponack; and his daughter, Lily Simone.
Visitation took place on Wednesday, January 18, at the Brockett Funeral Home in Southampton. A funeral mass will be held on Thursday, January 19, at 11 a.m. at Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church in Bridgehampton.
In lieu of flowers donations, memorial donations to Mr. Hildreth’s favorite charity, Guiding Eyes for the Blind, 611 Granite Springs Road, Yorktown Heights, NY 10598, would be appreciated by the family.