Obituary – Walter Ernest Houghton

Walter Ernest Houghton

Walter Ernest Houghton
1940-2019

Walter Ernest Houghton, 78, went to be with the Lord, on March 13, 2019, while surrounded by his family. 

Born Dec. 18, 1940, in Rutland, Vt., his homestead was Bridgewater Corners. Walter was the oldest of Earl and Ruth Houghton’s three children. He attended Woodstock High school, and graduated in 1958. He kept in close contact with his classmates throughout the years. 

As his family was a part of the Civil Defense Aerial Observation Corps, he joined the United States Air Force in 1959. While serving his country in the USAF, he earned his private pilot’s license in 1960, and flew in aero clubs until returning home to Vermont in 1962. At that time he joined the Vermont Air National Guard and became part of the VTANG’s first Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team when he earned his Crab badge from EOD School in Bethesda, Md. During his military career, he continued his college education by taking night classes and his passion for continued education would remain until achieving his master’s degree in aviation from Embry Riddle University in 1998 at the age of 67.

His career after the military began with servicing aircraft for Mohawk Airlines at the Burlington International Airport.  He would move on in the industry working for the State of Vermont Aeronautics Board, where he oversaw the 11 state-owned airports throughout Vermont. He enjoyed the job as he logged many hours of flight in the state-owned Cessna 182. He had the responsibility of ensuring safety at these airports and there were many times through his tenure that he would assist in accident investigations in extreme areas like snow-covered mountain tops and assist in aerial searches with the Civil Air Patrol.  

Walt then moved on to managing Northern Airways Fixed Base Operations back at Burlington International Airport, where he also worked in management with a local airline called Air North. In 1981, he took a position in Tampa, Fla., with the Tampa Air Center and a newly-constructed commuter airline Dolphin Airways. He returned once again to Vermont in 1983 to manage the Burlington International Airport. During his time there, he was pivotal in supporting the growth in airline service to Vermont by the addition of its first low-cost airline, terminal and runway expansion projects.

In 1988 he took a position at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport in Florida where he remained for 20 years and rose through the ranks to Director of Aviation for Broward County, before his retirement.  

Over the years, he received many awards: Aviation Professional of the Year at Florida Airports Council 2007, Glenn Curtiss Award – Greater Miami Aviation Association and the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award. He loved aviation and wanted to share that love with future generations. 

What started as a part-time hobby of teaching at Aviation colleges would eventually develop to a full-time career at colleges such as Embry Riddle, Broward Community College, McDill Airforce Base and Central Florida Aerospace Academy. His years of aviation experience and passion for continued education brought him many awards and accolades from his students over the years and would continue to stay in contact with many and watch their careers in aviation take off proudly. He was always willing to take calls from former students and give advice.

Walt’s passion for preserving history will be a continued legacy in two different states where he had made his mark in displays that he created and held key positions on museum boards for over 25 years and the organization of airshows from the Fort Lauderdale Air and Sea Show to the anniversary airshows for the Vermont Air National Guard. He was a proud member of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR). His support for those who fought in the past and present was always his motive to give back to those who protect us.

Call sign “Hoot” on his helmet,  he could be seen by looking up in the summer evenings over his beloved home in Shelburne flying his yellow 1940 Naval Aircraft Factory N3N-3 from his back yard. Many kids and adults alike got to experience rides like this for over 45 years as very rarely was the front seat not occupied.

Walter is survived by his wife of 52 years, Pauline George Houghton; son Jeffrey and Lori Houghton with grandchildren Piper and Taylor; daughter Jennifer and Travis Morris with grandson Tyler; uncle Royal and Lynne Houghton; brother Robert and Janet Houghton with nephew Justin and wife Amy; sister Dolly and David Holton with niece and nephews Sarah Holton and Paul LaFontaine with son Julien, Jim Holton and wife Natalie, Seth Holton; and sister-in-law and good friend Mary and John Buffum with nephew Paul Chioniere II and wife Lori and niece Michelle and husband Bud Davies.

Walter is predeceased by his parents Earl Houghton and Ruth Bates Houghton, mother and father-in-law Edward and Ruby George and granddaughter Bristol Houghton.

A graveside service will be held on Saturday, June 8, 2019 at 11 a.m. at the Shelburne Village Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Walt’s name to

Vermont  Veterans Militia Museum. Inc. 

F-102 Cockpit Restoration

789 Vermont National Guard rd.

Colchester, Vt. 05446

Leave a Reply

Shelburne News requires that you use your full name, along with a valid email address. Your email address will not be published, shared, or used for promotional purposes. Please see our guidelines for posting for full details.