Eight Bells: Bill Lieberman

Published on February 21st, 2023

Corinthian Yacht Club of Seattle Staff Commodore and Honorary Life Member William “Bill” Lieberman passed away on January 7, 2023 at age 100 with his family by his side.

Bill was born in Kansas City, MO and was an Eagle Scout and in the Mic-O-Say Boy Scout honor society. Bill received a BS in Aeronautical Engineering at U of Oklahoma and served in the Navy during WWII as an engineering officer in the Philippines.

After WWII, Bill began a 65-year career in the aviation field and also served in the Naval reserves. Bill married Mae Samuelson and in 1954 they moved with their first daughter Karla to Seattle to work at Boeing. Mercer Island became their home base where their second daughter Joanie was born. They divorced in 1970.

Working for Tex Johnson, the chief test pilot for Boeing commercial, Bill led the 707-20 to the 747-100 certification programs as chief of flight test until retiring in 1981.

In Seattle Bill began a hobby of boating, joining CYC in 1955 and became an active member. He raced sailboats and cruised on those same boats with family, served as Commodore in 1969, and crewed in the 1979 Vic-Maui Race before going offshore cruising.

Bill owned a number of boats over the years starting in 1955 with Nienke (26′ Aux Sloop), in 1959 moved to Truant (Rawson 30), Vamos (Buchan 37) in 1964, Nomad (Discovery 42) in 1979, and his final boat Last Vamoose (Pearson 36.5 PH) in 1999.

After retiring from Boeing at 57, Bill followed his dream and took off from Seattle to go offshore cruising on Nomad with his second wife Lori Meyers. They spent the next six years and 25,000 nautical miles sailing down the West Coast, through the Panama Canal to the Gulf of Mexico, up and down the US East Coast, and to the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin and Windward Islands.

They took a one-year hiatus in Brazil where Bill served as a diplomatic consultant to the Brazilian FAA helping to get a bilateral treaty with the US FAA to certify commercial aircraft.

Then it was back to the boat in Puerto Rico and more island hopping until heading home via New York and the Erie Canal to Lake Erie. The Nomad was shipped home from Cleveland and they were off again to Glacier Bay, AK. Lori passed away in 1990 after 10 years of marriage.

Bill’s final consulting job was with Aviation Partners as the Technical Program Manager for the development and certification of Blended Winglets for commercial airlines and private jets. He retired for good at 83.

In retirement Bill was a volunteer docent at the Seattle Museum of Flight and was a Boy Scout merit badge examiner. He shared his passion for getting kids involved in sailing and encouraging them to race. He was a leader with the Sea Scout Troop at CYC Seattle and in 2012 donated the Bill Lieberman Trophy to CYC which is awarded annually to the CYC Junior Sailor with the best finish in the US Optimist Northwest Regional Regatta.

Bill leaves behind the memory of daughter Karla Lieberman, grandson Alex Brill, sister Suzanne Shultz, brother George Lieberman, and wife Lori. He is survived by daughter Joanie Lieberman- Brill, (John Brill), granddaughter Danielle, sister-in-law Floriene Lieberman, brother-in-law Joe Shultz, and sailing, aviation and Aljoya friends.

Donations in Bill’s Memory may be made to the Seattle Youth Sailing Society c/o CYC Seattle for Youth Sailing Programs, one of Bill’s passions. A Memorial will be held for Bill on May 20 at 2:00 at Aljoya on Mercer Island, the community where Bill lived for his last years.

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