Colonel (Ret.) Earl Wesley Reynolds, 91, passed into the next life on Christmas Eve, 2012, while residing at Dammert Geriatric Center at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows. He was born in Norwich, VT, on March 6, 1921, the son of Wilbur and Ormacinda (Edmands) Reynolds. Earl was the husband of Anne Virginia (McDermott) Reynolds and the father of Mary Anne Shaw, Patricia Evelyn Reynolds, and Earl Wesley Reynolds, Jr.
Earl had 43 years of public service with the US Air Force. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps at Rutland, VT, on 12/18/41 and received pilot training as an aviation cadet at bases in FL, AL, and MS, graduating as a 2nd Lieutenant on 7/26/42. He became a B-17 pilot and served in flying ops and training positions for 2 years in NE, KS, SD, and TX. On 8/25/43, he married Anne Virginia McDermott of Denver, CO. In the fall of 1944, Earl was assigned as pilot of a new model B-17 to England, flying combat missions with the 493rd Bomb Group of the Eighth Air Force until the end of the war in 1945. Earl returned to civilian status in 1947 and began college at Dartmouth, and graduated class of ’51. While at Dartmouth, daughters Mary Anne and Patricia Evelyn came along. Earl was recalled to active duty 7/51. Family relocated to the Azores for 4 years. Earl served as Base Inspector and piloted DC-4s. In 1955, Earl went to Kelly AFB, San Antonio, as Squadron Operations Officer and Flight Commander of 12 C-54 crews, plus Aircraft Commander on transport flights to AF bases in Europe, Africa, and Panama. Earl earned a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the AF Institute of Technology at Wright Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio, in 1957. In 1958 Earl became Director of Management Analysis at HQ Air Weather Service, Scott AFB, Belleville, IL. Family relocated to Marissa, IL. In 1960, Earl and family went to Ankara, Turkey, HQ TUSLOG, as Director of Management Analysis. The family traveled as far north as Copenhagen, Denmark, and as far south as Petra, Jordan. They spent Christmas Eve of 1961 in Bethlehem at Shepherd’s Field. In 1962, Earl was assigned to ROTC at St. Louis University, and the family moved home to Marissa, and Earl Jr. was born at Scott AFB. Earl was promoted to Lt. Colonel, and was an Associate Professor of Air Science at St. Louis U. Earl received an award for Commendable Service. On 10/31/66 Earl, as a Command Pilot with over 5,000 hours was retired from the USAF as a Colonel. In 1967 Earl resumed his career in the Federal Service as a civilian employee at Scott AFB. In the early 70s, Earl was Director of Management Analysis for Military Airlift Command and in 1978, he became Director of Management Analysis for the AF Communications Command. Earl retired in 1984, and was then awarded the Outstanding Civilian Career Service Award. For the next 20 years, Earl and Anne traveled frequently, spending time with family and church. They enjoyed an active retirement, living in their house at 205 N. Borders in Marissa, IL, for 50 years.
Earl led a long life of service to his God, his country, and his fellow man. In addition to his distinguished military career, Earl was an elder in the Presbyterian Church for more than 40 years. He served as Wagonmaster of the Land O’ Lincoln Winnies for more than a decade, President of the Lewis & Clark Chapter of the Illinois Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, was a loyal supporter and/or member of more groups than we can remember, including the Marissa Rotary Club, the Marissa American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Eighth Air Force Historical Society, the Military Officers’ Association, the Dartmouth Alumni Association, and President of the Macke Senior Center in Marissa.
Earl was an avid outdoorsman, loving to fish and hunt. When he was no longer able to walk the streams and woods, he spent his time cultivating his yard and garden at home in Marissa, and cutting wood with his grandsons.
In 2008, Anne and Earl moved into Cedar Trails Senior Living Community in Freeburg, IL. In 2010, they moved into the Dammert Geriatric Center at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, IL.
Earl was preceded in death on October 7, 2010, by Anne, his wife of 67 years, his three siblings Maurice, Jack, and Alice, and his great-granddaughter Sophia Evelyn Reynolds. Earl is survived by his two daughters Mary and Patty, his son Wes (wife Melissa), his 15 grandchildren, and his 12 great-grandchildren.
Memorials may be made to The Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows; Passages Hospice; Marissa Presbyterian Church or American Legion Robert F. Arnold Post #172.
Visitation: Friends may call at Heil-Schuessler Funeral Home in Marissa, IL on Friday, December 28, 2012 from 7:00pm to 9:00pm and at the Marissa Presbyterian Church in Marissa, IL of Saturday, December 29, 2012 from 9:00am to 11:00am.
Funeral: Services will be held at the Marissa Presbyterian Church in Marissa, IL on Saturday, December 29, 2012 at 11:00am with Rev. James Ryan officiating.
Interment: Burial will be held with Military Honors in the Marissa Township Cemetery in Marissa, IL.
Succeeding generations and posterity never know what great pains our ancestors have taken to secure our liberty. Grandpa has told stories of the skies black with flack and his plane covered ankle deep in machine gun shells – of bullets penetrating ball turrets and crew members nearly dying – of long hours of flight that cause spacial disorientation and the need to trust one’s instruments. I remember asking the honorable colonel once what was the most difficult part of it all, and Grandpa, in his gentle and noble voice, answered that the hardest task of piloting was managing the crew. Sometimes, we forget that even though there were challenges of war and fear of death, some of the hardest trials for our ancestors in World War II came from being thousands of miles away from home – of being pulled away from one’s peaceful community and church to serve one’s country – of the necessity to rely upon a small group of people (ten men to a B-17) to complete the missions and come back home.
Grandpa would see the White Cliffs of Dover across the English channel and know that his battle was over; they were back on friendly soil. And now, across the Jordan river, He has eternal peace in Christ our Lord. His stalwart character and humorous smile I can only hope to emulate. Never did his heart linger on the trials of war but instead on maple syrup, apple sauce, tending gardens, and cutting firewood. He was back in his country, having fought to preserve the peaceful community he served, and for the remainder of his life, his work in his “little platoon” – raising and cultivating family, being an elder in the church, showing Christian virtue – did as much, if not more, to preserve and continue our freedoms than all the fighting of the war. Thank you, Grandpa, for your work overseas and back at home! We, your posterity, can only be grateful and follow the example of your faith.
Faith of our Fathers! Holy Faith!
We will be true to thee till death.
One of my first memories of Dad was with a camera in his hand. All his life he loved to take movies of the family and of the trips we took. You rarely saw Dad or Mom without a camera. Until my brother was born (smiling), I was Dad’s “tomboy”. We fished, hunted, gardened, mowed, sanded and painted that porch, scraped paint, remodeled various areas in the home, painted, sanded and painted that porch, took down the second story of the garage, mowed grass, trimmed trees, chopped wood, and sanded and painted that porch. He taught me to use so many tools that to this day I likely have one of the best stocked tool boxes that most single women do not have. Then Wes came along and I had to learn the girly things from Mom like sewing, crocheting, cooking, painting….I would say, looking back, that I had the best of both worlds. I will never forget our travels, courtesy of the USAF, Dad’s VW van, the 53 olds, and then the Winnebago. We camped and fished in Turkey and other countries, learned to ski in Turkey, and toured the good old USA. Dad and Mom made our lives an adventure. They also molded and shaped us to love God, Country, and our fellow men and women. They taught us compassion for people and a passion for life and living. Dad was always the strong, silent type and when he spoke, you listened (especially when he called me Patricia). He was old school and underneath that gruff, he had a heart of a teddy bear. Dad, I will miss you, as I miss Mom. I hope that you are together for eternity and know that you led by example, as I have attempted to do with my children, and as they are attempting to do with their children. You have left a legacy that is respected and who might just help leave this country and the people we impact in a better place through yours and Mom’s leadership. Hooah!!
Posted by: Patricia Reynolds – Goodyear, AZ – daughter Dec 28, 2012
Sorry For Your Loss. Please accept this electronic message in lieu of a Sympathy Card. Local National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) volunteers provide help in reporting the death of any federal civilian retiree or a retiree’s spouse to proper authorities. They will explain the process as needed and report the death to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for you. The NARFE Service Center is located in building 50, Scott AFB. You may visit the Service Center on Tuesdays, 10AM to 2PM or call 618-256-9350. You may leave a voice mail message at other times and we will return your call the following Tuesday. You may also call either of our Service Officers, Gene Wiggins at 618 566-7980 or Dean Hemmer at 618 233-3819, for immediate assistance if required.
Posted by: Gene Wiggins – MASCOUTAH, IL Dec 28, 2012
Having gone through the experience of laying to rest parents and loved ones we want you, your family and siblings to know that we care. We are asking our loving Heavenly Father to comfort each of you. You can and should rejoice in God’s promises! May you cherish the fond memories you have. May God bless you at this time. Harvey & Margaret
Posted by: Harvey & Margaret Kunnen – Saginaw, MI – Church friends of the Wes Reynol Dec 28, 2012
Wes and family,
We are praying for you all. We were amazed at the wonderful life of Earl Wesley Sr., and all the many accomplishments. The witness of his faith through service at his church, devotion to his wife and family and excellence in his career are a tribute to God and his faithfulness to his people.
Will and Sue McNinch
Posted by: Will & Sue McNinch – Saginaw, MI – Friend of Wes Reynolds family Dec 29, 2012
Mary, and family- condolences and prayers for you all. Sympathies.
Posted by: Claudia Kerens – Sparta, IL – friend of Mary Dec 30, 2012
So sorry to hear of your loss. I know how I felt when I lost my Dad.
Mary it will get some easier in time, put we both know it will always be a void for our hearts. I am most always home, if you need to have a chat and coffee or tea. A Friend Pat
Posted by: Pat Graham – Marissa, IL – Friend Jan 02, 2013
Miss you and Grandma so much. We were randomly talking about American hero’s today at work and so you inevitably came up gramps – I talk about you every chance I get. Cheers to the good times. Rest easy Sir.
Posted by: Christian Shaw – Columbia, IL – Grandson Feb 04, 2015