John Paul Porter, our Air Force file from B-1 whom we called “JP”, died of lung cancer in University Place, WA, on 18 Aug. His ashes were interred at Arlington on 26 Aug very privately. The class offers its sincere condolences to his wife, Billie, to his daughter, Beth, and to all of his family and friends. Beth Porter, who is married and kept her maiden name, is at 1329½ 4th Ave., Puyallup, WA 98371. Contributions in John’s name may be made to Good Samaritan Hospice, P.O. Box 1247, Puyallup, WA 98371-0192.
O.K. Lewis’s wife, Kay, died on 17 July after a 12-year struggle with cancer. O.K. still resides at the Fair Oaks Ranch, TX, address given in the Register, and the class offers its heartfelt sympathy to him and to all of Kay’s family and friends. O.K.’s e-mail address is email@example.com.
Harry Fletcher’s ashes were interred at WP on 14 July. Tom Russell was able to attend the graveside service and represented the class and the AOG. As reported earlier, Harry had died in Chamblee, GA, on 22 Sep 98.
At our 40th Reunion, John Wilson did a great job of guiding us toward an appropriate class gift, and we settled upon endowing the new strength development center in the Michie Stadium complex. We pledged $1.5 million to augment donations of $2 million by Bill & Joyce O’Meara, $1 million by Pete & Judi Dawkins, and $1 million by Fred & Marlene Malek. Upgrade of the athletic facilities has been the Supe’s top-priority fundraising effort, and O’Meara and Malek have each pledged an additional $2.5 million to the complex.
I suspected that Jim Walsh might protest last time’s assertion by Charlie Tennant that his 8 grandchildren could be a class record. Walsh notes that he has 9, and that Ted Colby has claimed 13!
Johnny Cox attended the 12 Jul ceremony in Sarasota, FL, in which the Special Forces presented to Rocky Versace’s mother a Special Forces tab and a certificate of induction into the First Special Forces Regiment. MG Kenneth R. Bowra, who heads the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center at Ft. Bragg, made the presentation.
The bottom line, he said, “is that the VC could not break his will. You can do no more than he did.” Johnny, who represented the class and USSOCOM, reported that about 80 people attended, including Bill Luther’s daughter, Leslie, and Dick Hotchkiss’s son, Mark, and Rocky’s brothers, Steve and Dick. Also present were Medal of Honor recipient Franklin D. Miller, a Vietnam vet who lives in St. Petersburg Beach; and retired army LTG Howard Crowell, a resident of Sarasota County, who was Rocky’s hootchmate when they were serving in Camau, Vietnam. Crowell, then a captain, was one of the many soldiers who searched for Rocky by helicopter after he was captured. The Friends of Rocky Versace group in Northern Virginia were represented by Mike Faber and Mike Kentes, who continue to lead the effort to have a new school in Alexandria named for Rocky, and to have him awarded the Medal of Honor. John Gurr, who is our point of contact with the group, sent the enclosed picture of the occasion, which he called a real class act, and reported regretfully that Mrs. Versace is suffering from terminal lung cancer.
Tom & Marty Roberts rented a house with Art & Babs Bair, in Nags Head, NC, for the 30 May wedding of Jack & Barbara O’Brien’s son, Mark, at the Sanderling Inn up-island in Duck. Donna, the bride, was attended by her sisters, and Jack served as Mark’s best man. Joining the Robertses and the Bairs in the house were Pris & Ron Howard. Pris is the sister of our classmate, Bob Edwards, who died in an automobile accident during the Armor basic course at Ft. Knox in 1959. Other 59ers at the wedding were Jay & Kathy Madden, Bob & Barbara Novogratz, and Terry Enright. Roberts said that O’Brien accepted responsibility for the absolutely beautiful weather. Tom & Marty got home in time to get the news of the birth of their grandson Samuel, to Tom III and his wife Pamela in Richmond, VA, on 5 June. Ain’t life grand?
Joe Shea’s daughter, Amy, who received our class scholarship in 1983, wrote a charming letter to give an example of how our small award “is working for the Army families.” “Currently my husband and family are stationed at Ft. Polk, LA,” she says, “where he works at fire support in JRTC Opns Gp, and I am a representative for the National Military Family Association (NMFA), the only organization that is dedicated to informing and lobbying Congress on issues that deal with military family members of all the services. Because of the support of the NMFA I was able recently to start supplying diabetic necessities to the military hospital again after a lapse of three years.
“In February 2000 my husband will be taking command of the 3-319th FA Airborne in the 82nd. I plan to continue to work for the military families both in our unit and throughout the Army. After all, with the high operations tempo that units are experiencing, if the soldiers know that their families are being taken care of they are more able to focus on their jobs. Please thank the class for the scholarship so many years ago. I am trying to pay you all back by working for the Army families.” And we certainly thank you, Amy.
Don Eckelbarger, who was kind enough to send a photo from the 40th, lives in Houston and is COO of the United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast, a job in which he works with a team of 150 professionals with a goal of raising $70 million this year. An article in Officers’ Call, the monthly publication of the National Officers Association, features Don as an exemplum of the transition from long military service into the civilian world.
Bill Fitzgerald, who lives in Fairfax Station, VA, also sent photos from the 40th, and the one printed this time is of the ’58 and ’59 National Championship Lacrosse Team. The other one, of the M-1 group at the dinner dance in Washington Hall, may see the light of day in a future issue and perhaps in the class notes section of our website.
Dave Roush was inspired to send his first letter in 40 years. He didn’t say what inspired him. His letter, 11 pages long, is an itemized autobiography that I may be able to get on the website once I master my new scanner. But for now, in brief summary, his career spanned 37 years in Infantry, Armor and Ordnance; and his civilian life has found expression with positions at Prudential Insurance, John Hancock, General Dynamics, Loral, Lockheed Martin, Chase Manhattan Bank, and Gulfstream Aerospace. He has four master’s degrees, four well-earned pensions, and he has recently celebrated the 21st anniversary of his divorce. He lives in Englewood, FL, and his broker is Ron Salter in Thomasville, GA.
Dave walks five miles a day, went to John Grinalds’s installation at the Citadel in Charleston, and has three children. Son David is a manager with Smith-Kline Beecham in Atlanta; Daughter Roxsanna is in computer graphics in Macon, GA; and daughter Sherri is a nurse in Warner Robins, GA. Among them, in unspecified particularity, they have produced four grandchildren. Dave’s house and car are debt free, and he has traveled to Africa, China, Argentina and Antarctica, all in the last two years. Yet, he says he’s as poor as a titmouse. I think he means churchmouse.