William O. Rabitaille

William O. Rabitaille

William O. Rabitaille died peacefully Saturday, May 4, 2019. On the day he passed, he was surrounded by people he loved and present in the minds of those who cherished him.

Bill was born January 9, 1933 in Groton, Conn. He was the fourth child of Joseph A. Rabitaille and Williamina Greig. Three brothers, Paul, Joseph, and Alex, pre-deceased him. His younger sister, Shirley Viveiros, lives in Tucson, Ariz.

After serving in the Korean War, Bill returned home to marry the love his life, Patricia Ann Reilly, on May 28, 1955. He co-founded R&D Construction in Groton and molded it into a successful property management corporation, allowing him to retire at the age of 51. He then relocated to Fernandina Beach, Fla., where he founded Amelia Island Aerial Tours. Miraculously, he survived a single-engine plane crash in 2000 that left him with multiple injuries. With grit, faith, and determination, he made a remarkable recovery.

Bill is survived by his wife, Pat, and will be remembered as a loving husband for just shy of 64 years who took endless pleasure in making her happy. He took pride in his French-Canadian ancestry and felt that made him a natural romantic. Bill and Pat suffered the loss of their first infant son, Jeffrey, in 1956, but he was blessed to be survived by three children, Renee Smith of Fernandina Beach, Greig Rabitaille and his wife, Beth, of Ormond Beach, Fla., and Shelly Benbow of Fernandina Beach. His children will remember him always for his quick wit and a constant example of strength, duty, compassion, and love.

Papa is further survived by his six grandchildren, Bill Rabitaille and his wife, Rebecca, of Farmington, Conn., Reilly Rabitaille of Orlando, Fla., Brian Rabitaille and his wife, Regina, of Orlando, Patrick Rabitaille and his fiancé, Courtney Hall, of Ormond Beach, Caitlyn Benbow of Belton, S.C., and Robert Benbow Jr. of Athens, Ga. He also has five great-grandchildren, Owen, 9, Emma, 7, Elizabeth, 5, Joseph, 3, and Greig, 11 mos. Love you always, Pop!

“(Our) life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man. (We’re) just a living legacy to the leader of the band.” – Dan Fogelberg

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 11, 2019 at the Burgess Chapel of Oxley-Heard Funeral Home with a Celebration of Life service to follow. The family will receive friends from 9 a.m. until the hour of service at the funeral home. He will be laid to rest in Bosque Bello Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made in his name to Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, 4266 Sunbeam Road, Jacksonville, FL 32257.

Please share your memories and condolences at www.oxleyheard.com.

Oxley-Heard Funeral Directors


Mailing Address:
PO Box 16766
Fernandina Beach, FL 32035

Physical Address:
511 Ash Street

Fernandina Beach, FL 32034

Phone: (904) 261-3696
Fax: (904) 261-3698