Will Pruett Final Voyage
September 6, 2009


Dear Shipmate,
Once again I am the bearer of very sad news. Our beloved shipmate Will Pruett has taken his final voyage on Sunday, September 6, 2009 to join his extended Perry family that sailed on earlier. If any solace can be had at this time it is the understanding that Will left behind an unblemished legacy of love and friendship with everyone having had the privilege to know him. I'm sure I'm just one of a multitude of people who feel as I do. While I've only known Will since 1999, I can truly say his life was that of an exemplary roll model that we would all be proud to achieve. His wonderful family is testimony to all I say, and they have given Will his greatest achievements.

Will loved our Perry Association and always thought of us as his extended family. These are just not words, they are facts. I recall vividly meeting Will for the first time at our 1st reunion in Virginia Beach, VA. We were on the chow line together making small talk. His son David was with him, and I thought to myself how nice it was that this young man was looking out for dear old dad. From the outset I just knew these werfrese.htme very special people and it didn't take long for us to know our assumptions were correct. Soon afterwards we learned this very nice young man David was a Navy Captain stationed in DC. Will unselfishly gave us permission to officially adopt his son David into our extended Perry family, and without hesitation David agreed. As our first honorary member, we soon had David working at our 2001 Jacksonville, FL reunion. David, now a Rear Admiral and being able to allot some time to his Perry family he humbly accepted our request to serve as our reunion Skipper. At our request, he attended our banquet in his dress white naval uniform and delivered a most dynamite speech. Will was so proud to see his son David mingling with everyone at the banquet and just being one of the Perry boys. We couldn't express our gratitude enough to Will for lending us David and making this an extraordinary reunion event to remember.

Will was a most active member of our Association and was most instrumental with our growth. He formed and Chaired the Membership Council and Crew Chief's committees and was always Johnny-on-the-spot to lend an ear and offer advice. Will attended our 1st four reunions and was the reunion Chairman of our 4th reunion in Branson. I can only say his effort was extraordinary. He made everyone's job real easy by personally accomplishing everything required and I mean from A-Z. He planned the entire event, printed the program and got two excellent guest speakers, an Air Force General and a Senator. It was also at this reunion that our memorial service became a reunion tradition that we have followed ever since. Will orchestrated this event with a Scottish Bag Piper playing amazing grace while leading a march of candle holders who represented all our shipmates 'gone but not forgotten'. Each shipmate being honored was represented by a shipmate with a lit candle that was snuffed out after reading the name of shipmate. There wasn't a dry eye in the room.

For health reasons Will was unable to attend our other reunions. However, he never lost touch with his extended Perry family and continued to play an active roll in our Association. The following year when his son, Rear Admiral David Pruett was retiring from the Navy, his health also prevented him from attending his son's retirement ceremony in Washington D.C. While Will was very sad because he could not attend David's retirement, he was happy for all the other family members who would be there to share this special day. With David being a part of our extended Perry family, I was truly privileged and proud to be there representing our extended Perry family for this most joyous occasion. It was a day that will remain forever in my memory bank.

The old adage of 'you can't keeping a good man down' and 'when you want something done you give it to the busiest guy in town' truly applies to Will. I've known for some time that Will helped form a men's chorus. What most surprised me however was his singing ability. Can you believe he was chorus soloist at several of their early public performances? I'm sure Will would approve of my sharing his most recent email to me on August 26, 2009. The song you hear in the background 'Steal away to Jesus' is one extracted from their CD.

Will's email - I'm very proud to let you know that SINGING MEN OF ARKANSAS has rapidly progressed toward professionalism and to the point that a CD was produced recently and is now available to the public at $15 each, free of postage and handling cost. They are available through our website www.singingmenofarkansas.org entitled "Celebrate Musical America", a 50 voice men's choir performing patriotic, and classic gospel, even a little Billy Joel. It has 13 well known songs including "The Best of Doo-Wop", "I'll Fly Away", "O Worship the King", "Star Spangled Banner", and "Battle Hymn of the Republic", etc. You'll enjoy it. I invite you to please check out the website given. You'll be glad you did. By the way, if you know someone who would like to become a part of this growing group in demand to perform, please let me know. All I need is a name and email address. THANKS for your interest. Respectfully, Will Pruett

What a guy, we'll see you in Pensacola
Until we meet again.
Steve Silk and your extended Perry family wishing you a smooth voyage.

Condolences can be mailed to: (Will's email address is inactive)
    The Pruett Family
    2452 Pin Oak St.
    Fayetteville, AR 2701


1st reunion - Capt. Garrett & Capt. Pruett photo
2nd reunion - Rear Admiral David Pruett - Jackson, FL
Rear Admiral David Pruett - Retirement Ceremony


Click this link if you don't hear the song Steal Away
by the Singing Men of Arkansas

Wilford Rae Pruett
(December 4, 1927 - September 6, 2009)

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WILFORD RAE PRUETT Wilford Rae Pruett, age 81, of Fayetteville died Sunday, September 6, 2009 at his home. He was born December 4, 1927 in Plainview, TX the son of Hubert Fred Pruett and Silvia Maude Wilcox. Will proudly served his country in the Navy aboard the USS Perry (DD844). Following his naval service, Will attended the University of Texas graduating with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, and completed his graduate degree in Commercial Banking from Stonier Graduate School, in cooperation with Rutgers University. He was employed as a senior executive in the banking industry throughout Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas for 45 years. During his business career, he served his community as a leader in numerous civic organizations, particularly the Chamber of Commerce. A lifelong member of the Baptist Church, Will was always an active participant as a deacon and in the music ministry. Most recently, he was a member of the University Baptist Church in Fayetteville, and the proud co-founder of Singing Men of Arkansas. Since his retirement in 1995, Will’s life was centered around family, friends and church. He was a devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He is survived by his beloved wife, Billye Jean (Marshall) Pruett, whom he married on November 7, 1948. Children: Susan and Anthony Stamilio of Arlington, VA; David and Phyllis Pruett of Virginia Beach, VA and Marshall and Lita Pruett of Allen, TX. Grandchildren: Amy and Andy McCoy of Syracuse, NY; Dana Stamilio of Alexandria, VA; Kent and Kathryn Pruett of Richmond, VA; Laura Pruett of Virginia Beach, VA; Kate Pruett and Tina Pruett of Denver, CO and Ryan Pruett of Allen, TX. Great grandchildren: Ruby McCoy of Syracuse, NY and Nolan Pruett of Richmond, VA. He is also survived by his brother George Pruett, with his wife Ella, of Richardson, TX, and his sister Mary Woodard, with her husband Raymond, of Seminole, TX. Tommy Marshall, with his wife Hedy Marshall, of Huntsville, AR and Larry Marshall, with his wife Majell, of Harrah, OK are the surviving brothers of Billye Pruett. Dozens of nieces and nephews join in the family’s loss. Funeral services will be held at noon Friday at University Baptist Church in Fayetteville, with Pastor H D McCarty officiating and musical performance by Singing Men of Arkansas. Burial will be at the Fairview Cemetery in Fayetteville under the direction of Moore’s Chapel. Visitation: Thursday evening at Moore’s Chapel from 5 to 7 PM Please sign the online guestbook by visiting mooresfuneralchapel.com.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorials be sent to: Wilford R. Pruett Memorial Fund of Singing Men of Arkansas 1935 Willow Ridge Ave. Springdale, AR 72764.