William "Bill" Kahl Jr., an Air Force veteran and active retiree who fought to protect seniors in care homes as a volunteer ombudsman, died Feb. 26 after a long illness with Parkinson's disease, his family said. He was 89.
Mr. Kahl was a veteran of three wars who joined the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1942. He was a bombardier and navigator aboard B-47 and B-52 planes in World War II and the Korean War. He served in military intelligence and flew on reconnaissance flights in the Vietnam War.
He received the Distinguished Flying Cross and other medals for his service and retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1965. He settled in the Sacramento area, began a second career with Pacific Telephone and retired as a manager after 19 years.
While seeking help for his mother-in-law, who had Alzheimer's disease, Mr. Kahl was appalled at conditions he found in some residential care homes. He joined Senior Ombudsman/Advocacy Project as a volunteer in 1985 and spent eight years visiting and monitoring conditions in nursing homes for state regulators and advocating for residents. In addition, he served on the Sacramento County Commission on Aging and the county Adult Services Board.
Meanwhile, he volunteered as a member of the Citrus Heights Community Planning Advisory Council. He served on the board of the Citrus Heights Incorporation Project, which won cityhood for the community in 1997.
He created stained-glass windows, enjoyed hunting and fishing, and became a master gardener in his 60s. He hosted foreign teachers visiting the United States as a member of American Host Foundation.
"I felt the community had offered me a lot over the years, and I wanted to give back to the community," he told The Bee in 1995. "And besides, I have always felt that if you do something to keep your mind and body busy, you're not going to age."
Born Sept. 12, 1923, in Los Angeles, Mr. Kahl grew up in the Inyo County town of Big Pine. He was married for 57 years to Loveta Kahl, who died in 2006.
He is survived by his daughter, Kathryn Olivas of Guayabitos, Mexico; son, Ted of California; stepson, Rick Willoughby of Hawaii; five grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. A private service was held.
Call The Bee's Robert D. Dávila, (916) 321-1077. Follow him on Twitter @bob_davila.
Editor's note: This story was changed March 14 to correct the date of death for William "Bill" Kahl Jr. He died Feb. 26, 2013.