January 29, 1938 July 12, 2020
Colonel William D. Siuru Jr., Ph.D, USAF, died July 12, 2020, in Banning, California. He was born on January 29, 1938, in Detroit, Michigan, to William B. Siuru and Bertha Siuru.
Like most kids who grew up in Detroit during the golden age of the American automobile, Bill loved cars-not just driving them, but taking them apart and putting them back together. His fascination with engines grew into an obsession with anything that moves, including all motor vehicles and aircraft.
During his first year at Wayne State University in Detroit, he had to choose a PE class or join ROTC. Tall, lanky, and unathletic, he chose ROTC to avoid sports, and that's how his military career began. He finished his bachelor's in mechanical engineering in 1960 and was immediately commissioned into the Air Force. He earned his master's in aerospace engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology in 1964 and his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Arizona State University in 1975.
Bill Siuru's Air Force highlights included Branch Chief, Foreign Technology Division, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH, Branch Chief, Rocket Propulsion Laboratory, Edwards Air Force Base, CA, Assistant Professor of Engineering, United States Military Academy, West Point, NY, and Commander, Frank J. Seiler Research Laboratory, United States Air Force Academy, CO.
His military decorations included the Legion of Merit medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Meritorious Service medal, the AF Commendation medal with one oak leaf cluster, the AF Outstanding Unit award with one oak leaf cluster, the AF Organizational Excellence award, the National Defense Service medal, and the AF Longevity Service award with four oak leaf clusters.
Bill's military career ended suddenly in 1984 when he was diagnosed with a spinal tumor. He spent the next six months recovering from surgery in Walter Reed Hospital and another six months learning to walk again. He recovered, but his lasting disability forced his retirement from the military.
Fortunately, Bill had other career plans. He had been moonlighting as a freelance writer long before his disability, ever since he and his friend wrote an article about Skylab and eventually expanded it into a book.
With his military career over, he began working full time as an automotive and aviation journalist. Over the course of his 40-year writing career, he wrote and published 22 books and thousands of articles for magazines large and small. His published books include: "Skylab: Pioneer Space Station," "F-16 Fighting Falcon," "Future Flight," "Planes Without Pilots," and "Presidential Cars and Transportation."
He regularly wrote for Autoweek, Popular Mechanics, BMW Roundel, Old Cars Weekly, Green Car Journal, and Skinned Knuckles magazine. For many years, he test-drove new cars, writing reviews for Kelley Blue Book online. He traveled extensively to car events around the world, even test-driving new BMWs on the Autobahn.
Not surprisingly, he also owned many cars in his lifetime, with an affinity for European cars. His favorites were BMWs and old Volvo 1800s. He owned several, sometimes buying a junker just for parts to rebuild another. Air Force Academy officials once reprimanded him for having too many cars and making the officers' housing area look like a junkyard.
He loved his work and kept proposing articles until the last week of his life. His final article, "The Red Ball Express," detailed how American trucks kept the supply chain moving through Europe to help the Allies win WWII. It was published in the July/August 2020 issue of Wheels of Time magazine.
Bill is survived by his sister, Karan Cotter, his ex-wife and lifelong friend, Nancy Siuru Aksland, his daughter, Andrea Stewart, and his grandsons, Ethan Stewart and Logan Stewart, who were his pride and joy. He was preceded in death by his parents, his brother, Gary Siuru, and his son, Brian Siuru.
His daughter and grandsons hope he's zooming through the afterlife in a BMW convertible with the top down. A service with military honors will be postponed until family gatherings are allowed. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Wounded Warrior Project