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William Zell

Date of Passing: 
December 19, 2016

CMSGT USAF (Ret) William Paul Zell passed away peacefully at The Meridian of Westwood in Fort Walton Beach, FL on 19 December 2016 at the age of 95. Bill was born in Highland Park, IL on December 3rd, 1921. Growing up in Arkansas, he eventually made his way to Chicago where he worked as a radio announcer as well as with various Vaudeville Acts.
He served in United States Navy as a Radioman Second Class on Destroyer Escort ships in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters from 1942 to 1945. He then served in the Air Force with time in Korea as well as Vietnam from 1945 up to 1975, then retiring as a Chief Master Sergeant. Following his retirement he worked as the planning and zoning commissioner of Okaloosa County for fifteen years and enjoyed traveling the world with his late wife Helen. Bill was very active in numerous charitable organizations in the local area to include the Disabled American Veterans, Veterans for Foreign Wars, Masons, Shriners, Meals on Wheels, and Sharing and Caring and the retiree activities office on Hurlburt Field, FL. He is the past exalted ruler of Elks Lodge 1795, an entertainer in the Fantaptics Dance Group, and a member of Hurlburt Field Chiefs Group. Bill was the MC Emirates of the Fort Walton Beach Memorial and Veterans Day Ceremonies at the Beal Cemetery for over 25 years. Bill was also a board member of the Veterans Tribute Tower at Beal Memorial Cemetery. His favorite mottos were, "Aim High and Study Hard!" as well as "Duty, Honor, Country."
Bill is survived by daughter Lisa Zell Heaton, her spouse Doug Heaton, of Gulf Breeze, FL, granddaughters Holly Heaton and Jennifer Williamson, her spouse Zachary Williamson, his great grandson Alexander Williamson; his son Paul Zell of Half Moon Bay, CA; and step-brother John Thorpe of Little Rock, AR.
The family would like to thank the staff at The Meridian of Westwood as well as Emerald Coast Hospice caretakers who provided love and support during his final days. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Emerald Coast Hospice.
Visitation was Wednesday, 4 January 2017 at McLaughlin Mortuary, 17 Chestnut Avenue S.E., Fort Walton Beach, FL from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM followed immediately by the service. Expressions of love and sympathy can be viewed or submitted online at

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The Air Commando Association is dedicated to continuing growth, strength, and support of American Special Operation forces through education, charity, research, and historical preservation. It is our Honor ensuring that American military forces continue to have the Special Operations capability required to implement U.S. strategies.

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Air Commando Association
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