Bill Machen Profile Photo
1935 Bill 2021

Bill Machen

August 30, 1935 — May 14, 2021

On the evening of May 14, 2021, William Ren "Bill" Machen, of Kerrville, peacefully gained a new pair of golden wings at the age of 85 when he departed from this earthly world at his residence in Kerrville with his beloved wife of 41 years, Meliss, and family at his bedside. Bill was born to Wilda "Inez" Billings and Tom Machen in Center Point on August 30, 1935. However, five years later, after Inez remarried, Bill found his forever father, Jack Colbath, who strived to raise him into the hardworking man we all knew and loved so dearly. As many years passed and before Bill began his search for love, he spent his days as a single father to two boys, Billy and Jack, whom he raised with the same love and strength that his father instilled in him all those years before. When his boys were grown, Bill began his search for love, which admittedly led him down some very interesting avenues until one day, August 27, 1977, his search finally came to an end when he found his own pot of gold at the end of what seemed to be an endless rainbow, and her name was Meliss Fritz. On this day, when Bill met Meliss, he knew his life would never be the same, as she and her daughter, Alicia, would spend the next 43 years making him into one of the greatest men to ever walk the earth and his life an adventure fit for a king. On July 14, 1979, Bill and Meliss tied the knot at a local Kerrville residence before jetting off to the mountainous wonderland of Ruidoso, New Mexico, where they spent their honeymoon soaking up the moonlight and dancing in the rain. In his early years, Bill attended elementary school in Ingram then went on to graduate from Tivy High School in Kerrville, before enlisting in the United States Air Force in 1954. During his lifetime, he was a man who wore many hats ranging anywhere from serving as a flight mechanic in the United States Air Force and working as a flight mechanic for Bell Helicopter to being a corporate pilot, flight instructor, and owner of a charter aircraft service. He also dabbled in the fine arts of real estate and mixology, which helped add to his debonair persona that Meliss loved. He was also an entrepreneur who once owned a Yamaha motorcycle dealership, as well as co-owned a tv/cable system company with his beloved brother-in-law, Dr. Rex Thomas. While later in life, he "retired" to a life of ranching, which allowed him to implement a variety of range and wildlife management techniques out at his Yellow Rose Ranch in Hunt, Texas. Although the most important hat that he ever wore was that of loving and respected husband to Meliss, father to Billy, Jack and Alicia, son to Jack and Inez, grandfather to Jennifer, Sarah, Rachel and Callie, great grandfather to Natalie, Riley, Kennedy, and Brycen, uncle to all nieces and nephews, and friend to those who were fortunate to have known him throughout his life. In addition, he had many hobbies and interests over the years that helped to make his life as unique as he was and included a variety of activities such as flying the KR2 kit plane, Miss Callie, that he built in his shop. He also enjoyed riding through the Hill Country on his Harley with Meliss, Alicia and good friends, going on hunting trips with his buddies and two sons, Billy and Jack, in the mountains of Utah for mule deer, skiing the slopes of Ruidoso and Taos with his friends and family, and fishing the coastal bays of Port O'Connor and Port Aransas with his family. His adventurous life did not end there, as he was also a patron of the arts and crafted many oil paintings of various landscapes out at the Yellow Rose. He was also an avid vintage car enthusiast and attended many car shows with Meliss and good buddy, Robbie. He was an expert restoration artist and restored many cars, in addition to the little red tractor that he spent hours refining for his beloved wife. He spent many days at race tracks around the country to follow his favorite race car drivers in the NASCAR circuit and attended professional bull riding (PBR) events, including ones on Saturday mornings with his granddaughter Callie and Wiley Coyote on Petunia Pig. In his day, he could also be found going on trips with his good buddy, Robert, to the air shows in Reno, where they would partake in various games of Blackjack, Texas Hold'em, and the occasional slots. One could say that Bill Machen was a connoisseur of the finer things in life, as well as the sweeter things like daily eclairs, coke floats, donut holes, and a good ole Jack and coke. He was a man with a heart full of kindness who was always quick to laugh at the little things in life. He survived several close encounters during his time soaring through the skies, such as the time when he was flying Meliss and Alicia back to San Angelo when the fire extinguisher exploded in the back of the plane, causing a cloud of white powder to encompass the cabin. Yet, even with no visibility, he managed to safely land the plane peeking through the small open side window. However, his encounters did not end there, as he once landed a citation jet using only instrument flight rules (IFR) following a strike of a flock of Canadian geese, which decimated the nose and one engine of the plane he was in, with no fatalities, other than the geese. He also managed to safely land a plane in an open field outside of Dripping Springs after engine failure. Thanks to his quick actions, there were no human or animal fatalities. At the time of his departure, he was preceded in death by his beloved granddaughter, Mandi Machen, his mother, Wilda Inez Colbath, his father, Jack Colbath, his aunt Faye Young, his extraordinarily special cousin, Marty Turman, his beloved brother's-in-law, Dr. Rex Thomas and Dr. Bob Dittmar, as well as his four-legged friends: Princess, Suzie, Spooky, Beau, Bailey, Casey, and Brownie the goat. He can take comfort in knowing that he is survived by his loving and cherished wife, Meliss, his three children, Alicia Napper, Clay Napper, Billy and Patty Machen, Jack and Bettina Machen, his four granddaughters and their spouses, Sarah and Luke Hutchens, Rachel and Justin Shilander, Jennifer Moore, and Callie Napper, four great grandchildren, Natalie and Riley Hutchens and Kennedy and Brycen Shilander, beloved sister-in-law, Bernadine Dittmar, and beloved pup, Bandit. His family would also like to acknowledge that he is survived by his good friends: Robert Ake, his partner in crime with whom he attended many air shows, gun shows and hunting trips, Ned Loomis, his good friend and aircraft colleague, Robbie Robbins, his right hand man in the tv/cable business and fellow car enthusiast, Jim Cash, his weekly lunch buddy with whom he shared a love of aircraft and military experience, Richard Saunders, his loyal accountant and friend of many years who eased all of his financial worries, Craig Leslie, his devoted attorney who eased the burden of many legalities, John Rich, his trusted financial advisor who always kept him in the money, Dr. John Burditt, who kept his smile radiant and everlasting, and Tomas Villanueva, who has been a faithful friend and ranch employee for 36 years. His family would like to extend a deep and heartfelt thank you to the Alamo Hospice staff and Dr. Michael Grocki, as well as special friends Helen Steele and Cody Mohnke. The family would also like to include a very special, heartfelt thank you to hospice nurse, Tina Gross, who was beloved by Bill during his final months. A loving thank you to Bernadine Dittmar who always managed to put a smile on his face and helped to take such good care of him and the love and support of Terry and Michelle Fritz There will be visitation held at Grimes Funeral Chapels on Friday, May 21, 2021, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. In addition, any and all memorials may be given to St. Jude Children's Hospital, the Lewy body Dementia Foundation, the Leukemia/Lymphoma Foundation, Alamo Hospice, and the American Heart Association. To Papaw, You Are A Pilot. . . You began in the Air Force serving our country. You grew with experience. You matured with time and knowledge. You have thrived in going to places where others can only dream of. You soar through the sky like a guardian angel keeping watch over the ones you love. But, you are a pilot, who doesn't think the sky is where the world ends, but rather where it begins. Love, Callie Renn
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