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Roy Garfield “Bud” Killian of Blacksburg, SC, received his longtime wish on Wednesday January 11, 2024, passing away peacefully in his sleep to join his maker and the love of his life, Fay. Born on November 7, 1925, Bud was the son of the late James Garfield Killian and Pansy Harvey Killian, and he spent 98 years on this Earth trying to make everyone feel loved.
A native of Cherokee County, our Bud was the widower of Mrs. Fay Webber Killian of Shelby where they shared their love for over 30 years until her passing in 2019. Bud cared for and loved his Fay like no other and longed for the day to join her in their heavenly home. Bud was also preceded in death by his first wife, and the mother of his children, Florence Terri Killian of Denver CO.
Greeting Bud in Heaven were his 5 brothers; William Killian, Ware Killian, James Killian, John Killian, and Ben Killian; 5 sisters Dorothy Killian, Ruby Killian Jenkins, Frances Killian Jenkins, Carolina Killian Fayssoux, Margaret Killian Betty; and forever best friends Jack and Jackie Collins, sons in love, Joshua Collins, Randy Beam, and nephew JJ Collins; longtime friends Mrs. Sondra Gore, Pearl and Myrtle Bailey, and John Major; along with multiple friends and family that he took care of daily.
Left to cherish his memory, and retell the many “Bud” stories, are a multitude of family members; his 2 daughters Janis Turecky (Louis) of Jacksonville FL, Joyce Hansen (Ken) of Denver CO; grandsons Phillip Hansen, Tim Stratton and Martin Stratton; granddaughter Lara Randall; nephews Jimmy Fayssoux (Martha), Johnny Fayssoux (Katherine), Edward Jenkins, Jr.(wife) along with so many others who loved our Bud; Son in Love Chad Creswell (Tracy), granddaughter Mikayla Creswell; Children in Love Jill Collins Beam, Janie Collins Allen (Chris), Jenny Collins Stroupe (Dennis), Joy Collins Thayer (Frank), and Julie Collins; The Gore and Earp Family; His loving caretaker, Mrs. Wanda Ford and her family; Patty Major and family; Fay Killian’s children, grandchildren and great grandchildren along with hundreds of brothers, sisters, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren who he considered all his family and treated them all as such. There were never any boundaries of Bud’s love for his family, his friends, or any of his family in Christ- blood relative was only “biology” in Bud’s heart and so many families were blessed to call him their own.
Bud was an amazing man who lived a life that most people never even knew existed. He began his extraordinary life in 1925, attributing his entire existence to his mother for saving him as a baby with a fever of 106- she was told by doctors that he wouldn’t survive, so Ms. Pansy took him home and placed him in an ice bath for 30 minutes every hour for 3 days straight. He survived and was a brilliant child even from early on- graduating from Blacksburg High School at the age of 16, Bud went to the University of South Carolina where he intended to study Law but was soon recruited into the engineering program where his mathematical love was sparked and turned into action! Bud was recruited by the United States Navy due to being the “most intellectual student to enter the engineering program at the time” and the US Navy found the genius they needed. Bud then received his Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Cal Tech with a emphasis in Aeronautical Engineering and later studied at Notre Dame, receiving his Navy Engineering Certificate of Excellence…and, at some point, gaining the nickname “Geech” from his fellow Navy ensigns. Bud said once that as a child he loved being outside in nature, especially during a storm. His mother, Ms. Pansy, would call his other 10 siblings inside but Bud would stay outside glaring at the clouds and watching the storms roll in and out. This love turned into Bud, being the mathematical genius that he was, joining the VP-23, Hurricane Squadron, otherwise known as the “Hurricane Hunters”, responsible for collecting data and calculating precise patterns and predictions pertaining to tropical storms. With his squadron, Bud Jew in over 500 hurricanes, typhoons, and tropical depressions over the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean with much of his hurricane data coming from up and down the east coast, and particularly over the Caribbean Sea. “Geech” (our engineer who operated the radar-altitude instruments) and his squadron were stationed predominantly in Miami and Key West- where their team could collect and analyze the fiercest hurricanes each year. Within their unit there were only 6-8 planes equipped with the men, the equipment, and the intelligence to perform the research that is still depended upon in tracking today’s storms…and “Geech” was “THE GUY” that jumped in the first plane and was always the first to hit the storms head on.
If you were lucky enough to get him to talk about himself, or his experiences, you could consider yourself truly blessed! One certain occasion, Bud told of a story when his plane was flying out of a storm and had only 100 gallons of fuel left and they were 100 miles away from the nearest base. They began losing fuel and with 90 miles to get to the landing strip there was only 75 gallons left…so they began throwing out every unnecessary ounce of equipment on the plane, including their own shirts and pants, which held their wallets and ids! They were finally able to see flares near the Elizabeth City base and coasted in on fumes; the engines both dying before they even touched the ground. Bud “Geech” and his pilot climbed out of the empty plane wearing only their underwear with no identification!
After retiring from the Navy as a Lieutenant Commander with more accolades and awards than be counted, Bud returned home in 1977 to Blacksburg SC where he devoted his life to taking care of his mother, Ms. Pansy, along with caring for and helping to raise the Collins Crew. Bud worked in the Blacksburg Hardware store from 1977 till its closing, but continued to repair kerosene heaters, replacing screen doors, or
any household issue that arose...basically doing anything anyone in the community needed- and he never wanted an ounce of recognition or pay! He showed his love for his community, his family and his friends with a surprise cantaloupe on the porch, bags of homegrown tomatoes, a bag of shelled pecans, or a few pounds of sausage from G&W Packing. No one ever had to guess or even ask who left these surprises... we all just smiled because we knew it was our Bud expressing his love.
Bud Killian was, in our opinion, the humblest man to ever walk the earth. He despised money and the implications of having such. Bud was the absolute happiest when he was giving anything he had away to his fellow brothers and sisters. Bud also thought that racism was despicable, and you had zero respect, in his book, if you treated anyone differently due to their skin color or their heritage. Bud held most high the Wilson Family and the Ross Family in Blacksburg, and nothing pleased him more than to have conversations with WT Ross or Calvin, Bob, Ben, Grant, and all of the Wilson sisters and brothers.
I know our world was a better place because Bud Killian made it better…he is the “Last of the Mohicans” and the last of a breed that we all could only hope shared their existence with us and our own children. To learn from this precious, humble, brilliant man is the absolute best we could ask for in our own lives while here on the Earth that he loved. May his “Bud-isms” be passed down for generations to come: WHAT??!!; For Crying Out Loud; Do Whatever Makes You Happy, Sweets; The Pursuit of Happiness is what makes the world go round; You are responsible for your own happiness, no one else; Oh, For Crying Out-Loud; That’s Bologna; Oh, Horse Malarkey; and what he lived by the most, “The Most Important Thing In This World is LOVE.”
Blacksburg’s Bud Killian…Always the constant in all of our lives – Always the one person, other than our parents, we could count on to love us unconditionally till his last breath – and we should all strive to be the “Bud” in everyone’s life around us until the Lord lets us be with him again.
GOOD SHOW, BUD KILLIAN, GOOD SHOW
A Celebration of Life Graveside Service will be held Thursday, January 18, 2024, at 2:00 pm at Mountain View Cemetery with Rev. Jeff Connell officiating.
Memorials may be made to the Blacksburg High School Boys' Basketball Team or the charity of one's choice
E-dolences may be made on the tribute page at www.whitecolumnsfuneralservice.com.
White Columns Funeral Service is serving the Killian Family.