Dad briefly served in the Marine Corps (as a top participant on their Marksmanship Team) before transferring to the Air Force in 1950, where he continued competitive shooting and well beyond. His Air Force career took him to Japan, where he flew the P-51 Mustang. He met my mother, Donna, at the Officer’s Club in Tokyo in 1953, and they were married there in March 1954. She was the delight of his life, and they shared many great adventures together through 58 years of marriage. Jack was the “Ja” in “Jadon,” the cattery name she registered with CFA in 1964. Dad was always an instrumental part of the passion Mom shared with me in successfully showing our Persian cats for more than 45 years together. He was an amazing caregiver when we were away at shows, and particularly catered to the kittens.
Dad was awarded the Air Medal and two Distinguished Flying Crosses for his service in Korea/Vietnam in 1968-1969. His Air Force career transitioned to the Air Force Reserves at Luke AFB in Phoenix, AZ in 1960 where he flew the amphibious Grumman Albatross for at-sea air rescue operations – unlikely as it was that this aircraft was stationed at a desert location! Next came the Kansas Air National Guard at McConnell AFB in Wichita, KS as a Flight Commander for an F-100 Super Sabre unit, which saw action in Korea and Vietnam after the USS Pueblo crisis in 1968. He retired as a Major in 1975 after more than 25 years of service to the USAF.
The family’s move from Phoenix to Wichita in 1967 was precipitated by his second career in civilian aviation as Manager of Airline Sales for Beech Aircraft, where he oversaw the marketing of the Beech 99 Airliner at the dawn of the commuter/regional airline boom. He spent 10 years at Beechcraft, then moved on to Piper Aircraft Corporation in Lock Haven, PA and ultimately Lakeland, FL where he marketed twin-engine turboprop surveillance aircraft all over the world. They lived in Lakeland for 11 years before retiring to Naples, FL to enjoy the coastal/boating life for 5 years. That is, until my Mom decided she’d had enough of Florida life in general, and wanted to live somewhere with a change of seasons, close to major airports and that was NOT a requirement for his career ... It was her turn!
They moved to Warrenton, VA in December of 1993 in time for one of the coldest winters in Northern Virginia history. Mom’s argument -- that Washington, DC area winters were relatively mild with a few small snow events over the course of a few months (memories from her years of living in the area as a young girl when her father was stationed at the Pentagon) -- fell apart for that and a good number of winters since! Dad sighed and moved on, ultimately discovering that boating in the Chesapeake Bay from their boat’s base in Kent Island, MD was a real treat, including occasional jaunts to St. Michaels or Baltimore to catch an Orioles game.
Dad kept up his competitive pistol shooting skills for many years, winning state championships in Kansas and Oklahoma as well as ranking very high in several National competitions in Camp Perry, OH. He was a member of the 2600 Club (1974) which his NRA friends will know represents an outstanding achievement! He was also an exceptional gunsmith and very generous with his expertise in helping friends with specific repairs as well as coaching them to hone their own proficiencies with scored targets.
Mom and Dad travelled to many parts of the world together, while his aviation career also took him far and wide. He was always looking for the next big adventure, and one of his favorites was a train trip across Canada just months after my mother passed in June of 2012. The “Rocky Mountaineer” through the Canadian Rockies to Vancouver was a particular favorite. In 2014 for his 85th birthday, he and I sailed to Alaska from Seattle which was unforgettable. We repeated the same trip with my brother John and his wife Judy just this past June for his 90th birthday.
Dad’s health began to decline not long after our return from Alaska, and he assured us he was grateful for such a full and wonderful life and was prepared for his end whenever that might come. He was thrilled to see the Washington Nationals win the World Series while disappointed to witness yet another unfortunate season for the Redskins. But he truly enjoyed an especially festive Thanksgiving weekend with family and close friends.
Your end came too soon, Dad ... You did it your way! But we are happy you are finally free and sharing that long-awaited libation with Mom.
- Susan Henry