Vilas Lyle Bielefeldt was born in rural Buffalo County, Wisconsin, on February 9, 1928, to Ruben and Anna Bielefeldt. He attended school in a nearby one-room schoolhouse and went on to graduate from high school. He also graduated with a bachelor's degree from Oklahoma State University. He married his wife, Jacquellin Jean Stiehl, on June 24, 1956. They were married for 64 years. They had four children, Major Michael (Rhonda) Bielefeldt, Daniel Bielefeldt, Julie (Mark) Turner and James Bielefeldt. He leaves behind nine grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
Vilas had a passion for airplanes and flying and it began with Mack Conrad when he was a youngster in Minnesota and went for his first flight. He worked in lumber and thrashing crews to buy his first airplane and learn to fly.
Vilas served in the Marine Corps and then followed with 30 years in the United States Air Force as a pilot. He served two combat tours in Korea and one combat tour in Vietnam. He also served as an advisor to the Argentina Air Force for four years.
Vilas enjoyed many experiences with international friends. He worked with MidEastern students in pilot training and hosted rotary groups from Indonesia, Argentina and Australia. He also hosted Japanese students from University of Central Missouri. Furthermore, he and his wife traveled to many countries and enjoyed experiencing many different cultures. He loved to recreate the Argentine Asado, including dressing the part.
In addition to his service to his country, Vilas served his community and fellow citizens in many capacities. He volunteered with the Historical Society projects, the Vets home canteen, Rotary, American Legion, helping seniors with taxes and library book sales. He volunteered with the Red Cross and assisted with the West Virginia floods, New Orleans hurricane and California earthquakes. He also supported Boys State, Rotary and American Legion and many others.
Vilas was a courageous, dedicated and devoted man with integrity and strength who loved life and his family. He was always excited for a new adventure and enjoyed every minute with a good nature and great sense of humor. He will be dearly missed.
A private burial will be arranged by Sweeney-Phillips funeral home.
Any donations can be made directly to Wounded Warriors or the Buffalo County Historical Society.