VISALIA, CALIF.

Robert J. Booth

Feb. 25, 1924 – May 24, 2009


Retired U.S. Air Force Capt. Robert J. Booth died May 24, 2009, in Visalia, Calif., at age 85.

He was born Feb. 25, 1924, the son of John and Gwen (nee Jones) Booth on Saylesville Road in the town of Genesee.

In 1942, he graduated from Waukesha High School, earning two "W"s as a member of the track team and manager of the football team. Robert then joined the service at age 18.

Robert Booth, Cliff De Witt and Jim Bruno started a flying service at the Waukesha County Airport called "Captain Jim’s Courtesy Air Service" in 1946.

At 20 years old, Lt. "Boothy" was Waukesha’s air ace – a leading combat pilot of a P-51 Mustang Fighter of the 8th Air Force in England and a P-47 Thunderbolt. He was described as chalking up the "best acrobatic flying in the European Theater of operations," and was the "eagle eye" of his group, with a perfect record of eight planes down with eight attempts.

Booth was shot down in June 1944, spending 11 months in a "dirty, cold German prison camp."

In 65 missions, Booth merited the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross with three clusters and the Air Medal with clusters.

Robert married Mittie Ellen Emmitt on Feb. 12, 1947, in Alaska.

In 1962, Robert participated in radiation atomic testing over Christmas Island and the Nevada Test Site.

During his career, Booth was stationed in many parts of the country: Alaska, Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, New Mexico, California, as well as Okinawa, Japan, and Australia. Extremely modest, Booth did not talk about his accomplishments.

Robert retired from the Air Force in July 1967 after 25 years of service. He was a corporate pilot, an FFA instructor and inspector, flew aerial tankers and reconnaissance aircraft for the California Division of Forestry, and transported prisoners for the state. He settled in Visalia in the San Joaquin Valley, between the airport and the golf course. He loved flying, playing golf, tending to his flower garden, watching the hummingbirds and his two canine "kids."

He is survived by a daughter, Gwen Booth-Kelly; a son, John; daughter-in-law, Jane (the late Walter) Booth of California; grandchildren, Sarah Kelly, Rachael (Austin) Poland and Patricia Booth of California and Carmen J. Booth, D.V.M., of Connecticut; four great-grandchildren; sisters, Katherine (the late Jack) Jeuck of Waukesha and Betty (Al) Martens of Mukwonago; brother, Peter (Sheran) Booth of the town of Genesee; sister-in-law, Rosemarie (the late Buzz) Booth of the town of Genesee; and nieces, nephews and friends.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Mittie Ellen ("Skip") on Jan. 26, 2009; his parents; his son, Capt. Walter C. (Jane) Booth (who died in Vietnam in 1969); and brother, Clifford (Buzz) Booth.

A military service for Robert and Mittie Ellen will be held Friday, Aug. 6, at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.