Ira J. (Bud) Purdy, Col., USAF Retired, 95, passed away quietly at his residence at Sunrise Senior Living in Fair Oaks, CA on October 18, surrounded by members of his family. A devoted husband, father and grandfather, he is survived by four children: Howard (Barbara) Purdy of Burton, MI; Margaret Purdy Wood of Loveland, CO; Timothy Purdy of Rocklin, CA and Julie Purdy (John) O'Brien of Modesto, CA; eleven grandchildren and five great-grandsons.
Ira was preceded in death by his wife of 70 years, Catharene Driscoll Purdy of Santa Barbara, CA; one son, Stephen D. Purdy of Sacramento, CA; his daughter-in-law, Patricia Diestel Purdy of Rocklin, CA; and his brother, James F. Purdy, of Northfield , MN.
Born May 19, 1924 in Russell, MN, he entered the U.S. Army Air Corps in October 1942. He trained as an airborne radio operator graduating in December 1942. He entered aviation cadets in 1943 and received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in Class 44-B at Williams Army Air Base, Phoenix, AZ. He married Catharene Driscoll on March 25, 1944 in Oklahoma City, OK. He was assigned to the 8th Air Force, 7th Photo Reconnaissance Group in England, flying combat missions in F-5 (P-38) reconnaissance aircraft and P-51 fighters in Europe until the end of World War II.
Ira was discharged from active duty in August 1945 and reenlisted in the Army Air Corps in April 1947. He was assigned to the 28th Reconnaissance Wing at Rapid City, SD where he flew as a radio operator on RB-36 heavy reconnaissance aircraft. He was recalled to pilot duty in December 1951. He served on RB-36 crews at Ellsworth AFB, SD and Ramey AFB, PR until 1959 at which time he became a B-52 crew commander at Seymour Johnson AFB, NC and Dyess AFB, TX. During his tour at Seymour Johnson he attended Omaha University under the "Bootstrap" program graduating with a BS in Military Science. In 1965 Ira was assigned to 15th Air Force Headquarters at March AFB, CA where he served in the 15 AF Command Control Center. In addition to his controller duties, he flew as a T-39 Saberliner flight instructor while stationed at 15 AF Headquarters. He was assigned to the Pentagon as an Air Operations Staff Officer from 1969 through 1973. Ira's final assignment was as Deputy Base Commander and Vice Wing Commander at Loring AFB, ME.
Ira's awards and commendations included the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal. He retired with over 30 years of service in June 1974 at Loring AFB, ME. Following retirement from the military, he attended the California State University at Northridge, CA , graduating Cum Laude with a BS in Accounting and Finance in 1978. Ira worked for the Santa Barbara County Auditor Controller as an Auditor and Administrative Services Officer until his final retirement in 1994.
Ira was a Life Member of the Retired Officer's Association, the Air Force Association, the 28th Bomb Wing Association, the 7th Photo Recon Group Association and the University of California Northridge Alumni Association.
Ira and his wife, Catharene, lived in Santa Barbara, CA for 40 years. In their retirement years, they traveled to various countries to participate in dance festivals and attend various military association reunions in places such as Switzerland, France, England, Ireland, Scotland and Australia. In 1997, Ira joined the Prime Time Band (a senior concert band) and a small dixieland group as the tuba player. He also was an avid golfer and gardener.
Ira will be interred next to his wife at Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, CA where he will receive a military funeral honors ceremony on November 18, 2019 at 11:00 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory can be made to Ira's favorite charity, St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.