Two days after Port Washington native William Didier, 58, died when the medical transport plane he was flying went down in a Chicago suburb, his relatives in Port are coping with the loss to their tight-knit family.
Peter Didier, William's older brother by seven years, lives on a farm a few miles north of downtown Port Washington on County Highway KW with his three sons, who together own RE/MAX United real estate in Port Washington.
It's the same farm Peter and William - better known as Bill - grew up on and shared until Bill moved to another house in Port Washington with his wife.
Bill continued to live in Port until he moved to Cedar Grove five months ago to be closer to his new job flying medical transport planes for Trans North Aviation, which owned the plane that crashed Monday night in Riverwoods, IL, about 30 miles northwest of Chicago.
It was on the family farm that Bill had his first close encounter with flying, Peter said. In 1957, their father Nick and his business partner arranged for a small plane to pick the two of them up on the farm and take them to the Milwaukee airport, where they took an airliner to New York City for the World Series.
"I remember seeing the airplane landing in the cow pasture and taxiing over to the house," Peter said. "I thought that was really cool."
After that, the brothers asked to take flying lessons and both became recreational pilots.
Bill later became a commercial pilot for several years, transporting freight around the country, until he was laid off in 2008, Peter said. Bill did some factory work while he looked for for another flying job.
"I kept saying, 'Jeepers, Bill, the chances of flying now are … think about something else,'" Peter said. "Lo and behold, he got this job. And it was in a way nicer because he was flying bigger airplanes and doing more interesting stuff. He was happy as a clam doing this."
From initial reports, it appeared the plane Bill was flying Monday could have been running low on fuel when it went down. Peter said he thinks it may have been a problem with the fuel pump, rather than a fuel shortage because of how diligent Bill always was about checking fuel levels.
"He always analyzed stuff to a fault," Peter said. "With flying, he was very, very methodical. Everything had to be by the book, by the checklist. He was safety conscious, not to a fault, but maybe to 'annoying.'"
Peter said Bill was the same way intellectually - pouring over books and philosophers and bringing deeply thought conversations to Peter's doorstep frequently.
"He read all kinds of stuff, really heavy stuff like psychology and Nietzsche, stuff that you were forced to read in college that he actually liked to read," Peter said. "He would come over and talk to me sometimes, and I would sort of be like, 'Let's talk about something else. This is getting too deep for me.'"
Peter said Bill was also attached to his family, music, and gardening.
"He always loved putzing in the garden," Peter said. "He would go out there and dig by hand and bring us vegetables."
Bill is also survived by his wife, Connie; two children, Adam and Carrie; and three grandchildren. Services are pending.