Tributes for

Piasta, Ed

Send a Note

Piasta, Edward "Ed", a true representative of the Greatest Generation, passed away in Orange at the age of 86 after suffering a debilitating stroke.

Ed was born on July 17, 1926 in New Britain, Connecticut to Polish immigrants Josef A. Piasta and Sarafina Stypulkowski Piasta. The family soon moved to Southbridge, MA, where Ed grew up on a farm in a Polish-American section of an ethnically diverse New England industrial town.

Early on, Ed developed a love for flying. With World War II raging he was accepted for Naval Air Cadet training but by the time he and his class of 1944 graduated, the military had an over-supply of pilots. Thus, upon high school graduation, Ed enlisted in the Army. After training and at the same time the Allies were bogged down at the "Bulge," Private Piasta was among thousands of replacements rushed to Le Havre, France. He served as a lead scout in the 63rd Armored Infantry Division as it smashed through the Siegfried Line and raced across Germany to the Danube, culminating in the defeat of Nazism.

After his release from active duty in 1946, Ed briefly returned home to Southbridge but soon headed west to attend flight school in Tulsa, OK. He started his flight training at the Spartan School of Aeronautics and was later hired as a mechanic at American Airlines in Tulsa. While there, he met a young student nurse at St. John's Hospital. Her name was Bette Jane Rice. They fell in love and later married and soon afterwards, had two children, Joe and Mary. In 1953, Ed was accepted to and graduated from American's flight engineer school. This resulted in a move for him and his family to Chicago. Two more children, Fran and Karen followed.

In 1957, Ed and Bette moved their family again, this time to Orange. Ed crewed on the DC-6's, DC-7's, 707's, 747's and DC-10's out of LAX. Bette worked as a nurse at St. Joseph's Hospital and Western Medical Center. Meanwhile, they added their final two children, John and Polly. They were leaders at Holy Family Church and School, with their kids eventually graduating from Marywood and Servite High Schools.

Post retirement, Ed and Bette moved to Paradise, CA to be near their dispersing children followed by Gig Harbor, WA and finally Phillips Ranch. Ed did part-time work as a flight instructor. In 2000, they celebrated their 50th anniversary with their clan of six children and their spouses along with their 21 grandchildren,.

In addition to his flying, Ed was a classic "jack of all trades," whether it be a photographer, a barbecue chef or "Mr. Fix-it" attending to the fleet of Volkswagens in the yard. He was gregarious and loved by all who met him. And most significantly, he became a "professional" fan of all of his talented grandkids in their sports, plays and academic events, where Ed could be usually seen in the front row with his high-grade camera.

Unfortunately, in 2006 Bette died of a stroke. In 2009, Ed remarried an old friend and widow, the former Marikay Gausselin. He moved back to Orange, where he lived with Marikay until several illnesses and an eventual stroke took him.

Ed is remembered as a man of great faith, patriotism, courage and spirit! Living for God, family and country was his lifelong focus.

Ed was predeceased by his wife of 56 years, Bette Jane Rice and is currently survived by his wife, Marikay; his sister, Dorothy Houde of Los Gatos; his children, Joseph A. Piasta II of Santa Rosa, Mary Cole of Porterville, Frances Liebel of Phillips Ranch, Karen Hawkey of San Rafael, John Piasta of Villa Rica, GA and Polly Borgelt of Rancho Cucamonga; the following grandchildren, Lee Liebel, Mary Piasta Valluzzo, Edward A. Piasta II, David Hawkey, Ann Piasta, Daniel Hawkey, Ciara McClanahan, Joseph Piasta, Theresa Otto-Piasta, Chenin Doiron, Stephanie Prince, Eric Vadalma, Sarah Hawkey, Andrew Liebel, Steven Piasta, Frank Piasta, Deana Borgelt, Joan Piasta, Lindsey Borgelt, John D. Piasta, and Aaron Hawkey; and great - grandchildren, Rex McClanahan, Robert Valluzzo and Constantine J. Valluzzo.

There will be public visitation at Saddleback Chapel from 5 P.M. until 9 P.M., Thursday, December 27th, with a Rosary at 6:00 P.M.A Mass of the Resurrection will be said in Ed's honor at Holy Family Cathedral in Orange at 12:00 Noon on Friday, December 28th. Interment will follow at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery with a reception to follow: Inquiries should be directed to Ed's daughter Karen Hawkey, phone 415-845-0574, email: or

to Ed's son Joe Piasta at phone 707-481-3352, email:


Mortuary: Saddleback Chapel

Florist: Saddleback Florist