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Serving the Present... Remembering the Past...
Air Force Weather

 

IN MEMORIAM

(Necrologies were submitted by family members or friends.)

 

COLONEL (RET.) WILLIAM S. BARNEY (1917-2000)  and his wife, BETTY, perished in a fire that ravaged  their home in Rockville, Maryland, in the early morning hours of February 3, 2000.  Col Bill Barney was well known throughout the meteorological community for his work in the Air Weather Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorological Services and Supporting Research.  Colonel “Bill” Barney was a legend and a leader — and his accomplishments were numerous.  (Ed. Excerpts for this necrology were taken from AWS files and various obituaries. Thanks to Lillian Nolan and Loraine Becker of the AFWA History Office and Bob Dumont at OFCM.) The following article appeared in the Headquarters, Air Weather Service Observer in October 1967.

LEGION OF MERIT, and an album were presented to Col. William S. Barney (on right) by Brig. Gen. Russell K. Pierce, Jr., Air Weather Service (AWS) commander. Colonel Barney, who retired at the end of September1967 after 30 years’ service, was cited for his contributions to the weather service as AWS vice commander.

SCOTT AFB, Ill, Oct. 10, 1967—An Air Force weatherman who held every rank from private to colonel retired recently at this base where he began his military career 30 years ago.

    Col. William S. Barney, a member of AWS since it began in 1937, received the Legion of Merit from Brig. Gen. Russell K. Pierce, Jr., AWS commander.  General Pierce praised Colonel Barney’s numerous contributions to military weather support. The Legion of Merit recognized Colonel Barney’s effort in the development of environmental support for space projects.  This was nothing new for the colonel, who has pioneered many military weather advancements and always kept an eye to the future.  Colonel Barney’s immediate future is the beginning of a career with the Environmental Science Services Administration (ESSA).  He retired on Thursday, Sept. 28, and the following Monday was on the job as assistant director of the Barbados Oceanographic and Meteorological Experiment (BOMEX) project office.  He will direct the planning of logistics and operations for BOMEX, an interagency study of interaction between the atmosphere and the ocean, planned for the summer of 1969.

    The colonel’s Legion of Merit covered the period from May 1, 1963, to May 31, 1967, when he was AWS vice commander.  He was 1st Weather Wing commander in the Pacific from 1961 to 1963.  Prior to that, he held posts throughout AWS, dating to 1937, when he began as a weather observer.

    His accomplishments include work to rehabilitate the Italian military weather service and the civilian weather services of Germany and Japan. He established the ocean vessel station program for the Japanese government and prepared the first tidal wave warning plan for the pacific.

    More recently, Colonel Barney chaired a joint steering committee concerned with developing a capability to observe and predict the aerospace environment. AWS’s Solar Observing and Forecasting Network (SOFNET), which monitors and forecasts radiation resulting from solar disturbances, was designed by the colonel through the joint committee.

    Largely as a result of the veteran weatherman’s efforts, AWS is receiving weather data at Air Force Global Weather Central, Offutt AFB, Neb., from Europe and the Far East at a rate of 3,000 words per minute versus 100 words per minute in the recent past.  This is the new Automated Weather Network.

    Colonel Barney also has played a role in the Vietnam conflict.  Following the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, he made an accurate estimate of the situation and planned and deployed a weather-support organization to Southeast Asia.  The force was designed to support not only the situation at that time, but the rapid growth of U.S. forces and the expanded operations which followed.

    Born in Bernie, Mo., on July 3, 1917, Colonel Barney is a 1933 graduate of Parma High School. (In his youth, he played professional baseball.)  He enlisted in the Army in 1937 and was assigned to Scott Field after his initial military training. He trained as a weatherman and navigator and in 1945 compiled 2 combat hours in four missions over Italy.

    Colonel Barney was commissioned from the field as a second lieutenant in the infantry.  He won a regular commission in field artillery and transferred to the Army Air Corps.  He has held all grades, both temporary and regular, from private to colonel.  This includes six specialist ratings, the two air mechanic ratings and regular warrant officer. ٱObserver

    Colonel Barney also commanded the 6th Weather Squadron (Mobile) in Oklahoma and later as Federal Coordinator, he expedited the use of the USAF Mobile Squadron in the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant incident.  He also commanded the 54th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, commanded the reconnaissance forces for atomic tests in 1948 and the Test Service Unit for the first hydrogen bomb tests in 1952 and 1956.  He also commanded the 9th Weather Group at Andrews AFB, MD and moved it to Scott AFB, IL in 1957. He helped plan its reorganization and at the end of his tour, the unit was redesignated as the 9th Weather Reconnaissance Group supervising all AWS reconnaissance squadrons. It later was redesignated the 9th Weather Reconnaissance Wing.

     After being the assistant director of BOMEX, he served as Logistics Manager for the Man in Sea project, Project Manager for the International Field Year for the Great Lakes, U.S. Field Director for Meteorological and Hydrological Services, and Director of the Special Projects office for NOAA.  He directed the project for the Modernization of the Iranian Civil and Military Meteorological Services and served in a similar capacity for the Government of Saudi Arabia.  He was also Chairman of the Interdepartmental Board of the Departments of Commerce and Defense. In 1981, he became The Federal Coordinator for Meteorological Services and Supporting Research.

    Colonel Barney was awarded the Department of Commerce Gold Medal, the USAF Legion of Merit, and 14 others including the Army, Navy, and Air Force commendation medals.  In addition, he received two flying safety awards and four consecutive Military Airlift command outstanding awards for flying safety.  As a pilot and command navigator, he logged 9,000+ hours.      

    During Colonel Barney’s retirement, he continued to study military history and the effects of weather service as a military force enhancer. He was called upon numerous times for advice on philosophy and strategy for meteorological services and supporting research — both national and international. He was an avid reader and student of the Bible.  He enjoyed attending many Civil War reenactments with his friends and until his death, he continued to run three miles a day with his German Shepherd dog Sable Lee (found in the fire, but resuscitated).

     John Fuller in his Thor’s Legions wrote: Colonel Bill Barney became one of the finest and most respected leaders ever developed in AWS. With little formal schooling beyond high school, self-educated Barney (he was a history buff and read and memorized passages from the classics) was at once Missouri homespun and insightful philosopher and teacher.  Master of the smile and metaphor. Bill Barney was the Will Rogers of AWS.  His integrity was like the oak and hickory of the Ozark foothills he grew up in.  Integrity was a big theme in a treatise on leadership for AWS commanders he published in March, 1955 (Leadership: A Treatise for AWS Commanders).

    Interment service was held at Ft. Myer Chapel, Arlington National Cemetery, on Thursday, Feb 24, 2000 with full military honors.  Colonel and Mrs. Barney were survived by their children: Robert S. Barney (wife, Janice), Eleanor Sherfield (husband, Floyd), James Scott Barney (wife, Susan), and Mary Barney Haines (husband, Dennis); loving brother and sister-in-law of Robert E., James Scott and Pat O. Barney; nine grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and Sable Lee (German Shepherd). Memorial contributions may be made to the Montgomery Humane Society, 14645 Rothgeb Dr., Rockville, MD 20850, or to the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department, P.O. Box 1547, Rockville, MD 20849.

COLONEL (Ret.) HAZEN HOWARD BEDKE, age 81, passed away December 17, 1999 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  He was born in Basin, Idaho on February 14, 1918 and graduated from the University of Utah earning both  B.S. and M.S. degrees.  He also attended Scripps Institute of Oceanography for doctoral studies. He served as a military meteorologist during World War II supporting the 14th Air Force in Kunming, China. He continued his illustrious military career in many assignments including commanding the 18th Weather Squadron in Europe and the 4th Weather Group at Andrews AFB, Maryland. In the late 1950s, he was a leader in initiating the placement of staff meteorologists in the major military laboratories and test centers to flag potential weapon systems' environmental vulnerabilities before full production. He also helped lead in the initiation of computer flight plans and other numerical weather prediction products for the US Air Force.  He retired from the Air Force as a Colonel, and returned to Salt Lake City to join the US Department of Commerce/NOAA as the Director of the Western Region of the National Weather Service. His achievements as a long-term public servant were many and were recognized with numerous awards, culminating in the highest civilian award, the Presidential Rank Award. He enjoyed a love for family, and anything mathematical, including card playing, as any of his bridge and poker friends would know. He is survived by his wife of nearly 60 years, Jane Andrews; daughters Carolyn Coulam, Suzanne Bedke, Janelle Bedke, Rosalin Bedke; sister, Marian Hoke; and 15 grandchildren. Hazen will be deeply missed by all of his friends and family. His wisdom, humor, and leadership were appreciated by all who knew him.  Memorials can be sent to the Bedke Scholarship Fund at the University of Utah. Send contributions to: Department of Meteorology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112. ٱ

COLONEL (Ret.) MORTIMER F. BENNET, 75, of Lebanon, IL, born April 25, 1924, in Albion, IN, died Tuesday, April 18, 2000, at Scott Air Force Base Medical Center. Col.  Bennet retired from the U.S. Air Force after 35 years of service in many roles including a meteorologist and master navigator.  In his retirement, he and his wife operated Bennet’s Scientific, a business that restored and sold antique clocks, barometers, and weather instruments. He was a member of the First United Methodist Church of Lebanon, IL, past president of the Lebanon Library Board, past president of the Kaskaskia Library Board, past president of the Illinois State Library Trustees, a Paul Harris Fellow with the Lebanon Rotary Club, a life member of the Masonic  Lodge, and was a clock maker certified by the American Watchmakers
Institute.  During his retirement, he served as a Red Cross volunteer at the pharmacy of the Scott Air Force Base Medical Center. Col. Bennet entered the service during World War II in the Horse Cavalry, and transferred into the Army Air Corps.  He received a battlefield  commission of first lieutenant during that war.  Col.  Bennet then joined the Air Weather Service as a meteorologist and a command navigator.  He served in Bermuda with the Hurricane Hunters in the 1950s.  He received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Southern Florida.  He served on the founding academic staff of the Air Force Academy teaching meteorology and navigation.  Later in his career, Col. Bennet was stationed in many overseas tours of duty including Newfoundland, Bermuda, Korea, Germany, Okinawa, and Vietnam.  He served in World War II, Korean War, and the Vietnam conflict.  In Vietnam, Col. Bennet commanded the 1st Weather Group responsible for providing all meteorological support in S. E. Asia to U. S. and Allied forces.  In addition, Col. Bennet served tours of duty at Scott AFB at HQ Air Weather Service.
During the last part of his career, Col. Bennet was a senior Department of Defense environmental official responsible to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon.  He represented the United States in environmental affairs as a representative to the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO) in The Hague, Belgium.

   Surviving are his wife, A. Geneva, nee Schmid, Bennet of Lebanon, IL, whom he married in 1944, two children, Dr. Michelle Bennet of Boston, MA, and Kevin Bennet of Rochester, MN, a brother, Luther Bennet of Kirkwood, MO, and many nieces and nephews. Memorials may be made to the Memorial Scholarship Fund in memory of Mortimer Bennet, at the First United Methodist Church, 603 W. St Louis Street, Lebanon, IL 62254.  Funeral services were held  Saturday, April 22, 2000, at the First United Methodist Church, Lebanon, IL.  Interment will be in Arlington National Cemetery, Washington, D.C., with full military honors. 

Member Hugh O’Neil writes, “I'm saddened to hear of Mort's passing.  He was my commander at the First Weather Group in Saigon in 1971.  I enjoyed working for Mort and can fondly recall his pipe lighting and smoking rites during staff meetings. The meeting would halt while Mort went thru this captivating ritual!” 

Member Al Kaehn writes, “I had been the Commander of the 10th Weather Squadron for 9 months when Mort Bennet arrived at Tan Son Nhut as the Commander, 1st Weather Group. During my last 3 months at the 10th, there was a lot going on in the prosecution of the war, and the rainy season was upon us. So there were issues aplenty! But Mort was just great to work for. There was never an issue that we couldn't lay on the table and talk to directly and frankly. He was understanding, and extremely knowledgeable (his time in the AWS IG certainly helped here) -- but he used those talents to help us get the job done. His leadership was clear; his judgments informed and fair. We had issues, but I respected the way he treated me and the people across the Squadron. I'll never forget -- 2 weeks before my port call date to come home, he called -- didn't talk to me -- but summoned me to meet him in Bangkok within 24 hours. (He could get to Bangkok easier than I could get to Saigon.) When I called him to find out what the topic would be, he never was available for the phone (he was but you'll see why I got that answer). I got a seat on a C-130 (the Klong Bird) and advised of my arrival time in Bangkok. Talk about nervous sweat time...! I got to the Chau Pia hotel (O'Club) and was having a beer in my not too sweet smelling fatigues, when he arrived -- came by and said "Come up to my room in 10 minutes -- let's get started." I got to his room, knocked -- he called me in. He sat in a chair; feet propped up on a trash can, pulled out a bottle of scotch, and said "Al, congratulations! You're on the colonel's list to be released tomorrow morning, and I thought we could have dinner together and celebrate!" Wow---scrape me off the ceiling and let's try to get to a phone and call Melly! Later, we were in the Washington DC area together -- he was in the Air Staff and I had the job in OSD/DDR&E. We had the chance to work a lot of issues together here again, in the difficult years of the Vietnam drawdown. I have only the fondest of memories of working with and for Mort.....a gentleman and a very fine senior officer in the truest sense of the word.

FRANCES DVORAK ECKMANN, wife of Lt Col Frederick C. Eckmann, USAF Retired, passed away quietly at home, on      18 March 2000, after a long illness. During her career as an Air Force wife, she volunteered in several American Red Cross units, at Bases in the countries of Panama, Newfoundland and Japan. In Tokyo, she helped form the "Far East Women's Club - Japan" and became its first President.  After leaving the Air Force in 1968, the Eckmanns lived and worked in Houston, Texas.  Fran, as she was known, became interested in the local and State "PBX Clubs", rising to President of the Texas group.  She worked as chief PBXer at several companies in Houston, notably MD Anderson Hospital. Retiring in Las Vegas in 1985, Fran studied Hotel courses at UNLV.  In addition, she served a tour on the Las Vegas Senior Citizens Advisory Board and also volunteered again with the ARC at Las Vegas at the Nellis AFB Hospital.  The Retired Officers Wives Club saw a winner and she was soon brought in and moved up the chairs to President. Fran is survived by her husband Frederick, her son Lyle of Dallas and two daughters: Lee Dotson of Las Vegas and Louise Strawderman of Luray VA

CWO (Ret.) JIMMIE L. GULLION (1930-1999) who passed away on February 17, 1999, had many close friends in the Air Weather Service and in the Army Artillery.  He had a sense of humor that you could always count on, and he had an exceptional talent for getting to the heart of any subject you might be involved with. I met Jim in 1962 when I was transferred from SAC to the Engineering Design Branch of the Air Force’s Climatic Center which was located a couple of blocks south of the Capitol Building in Washington.  At the Clime Center (as we called it), which George Moxon renamed the “Environmental Technical Applications Center” (ETAC) while we were there, we military meteorologists worked side by side with civilian meteorologists.  We wore civilian clothes on the  job, car pooled from our homes in Maryland, cooked steaks on our backyard barbecues, and were simply enjoying the taste of life away from the forecasting night shifts.  Jim was then a bachelor and my family consisted of wife Marie and our three young daughters.  He was then a TSgt and I was a MSgt.

    On nearly every weekend, while we worked in Washington, Jim would drive his green and white ’55 Chevy back home to Bluefield, Virginia.  Upon his return, he would bring back to us fresh Virginia tomatoes, apples and other things.  We still have the antique oak table he brought us on one of those trips to Bluefield.  But we soon learned that Jim was not going to Virginia just for our benefit.  On one memorable day in June of 1962, he brought back a bride, and our friendship with Jim then was doubled with an equally beautiful friendship that immediately developed with Edna.

    I would soon learn that Jim was no average meteorologist.  His superior forecasting skills were so evident that he had been recommended to be the chief forecaster while stationed at an Air Force  base in Texas, a most unusual recommendation when you consider that he was then an airman second class.  During that time, it was almost unheard of to have a meteorologist assigned to that job who was any lower in rank than captain.  During the Korean War, Jim flew a number of missions as a crewmember of a B-29 weather recon ship.  For that service, he was awarded the Air Medal. 

   At the Clime Center, we worked on climatic requests that ranged from whether President Kennedy should take his overcoat on his visit to South America to a Pentagon request for the design of a Defense Department technical manual that would provide heating and air conditioning design data for U.S. government installations world-wide.  One day, while providing information at the Pentagon, Jim learned that we might be eligible for warrant officer commissions in the artillery.  Consequently, we applied for the appointments, met the selection board and were the first two of three AWS sergeants to be made meteorological officers in the artillery.  We were assigned to instructor duty at Ft. Sill in the meteorology section of the target acquisition department and would have any monotony of that job broken up with two Vietnam tours in which we provided ballistic meteorological data to the artillery batteries. For that service, Jim was awarded two Bronze Star Medals and the Meritorious Service Medal.

    After our military service ended, Jim warmed my heart beyond measure when he said that he wanted to come to work in the weather station that I had set up at a copper mine at Morenci, Arizona.  He was hired and promoted to Chief Meteorologist in 1979.  His forecasting expertise was used to great advantage in controlling air quality at the copper smelter.  When the smelter closed, Jim returned to Lawton, Oklahoma and a civilian job at Ft. Sill developing new ballistic meteorology equipment for the artillery.  He retired from that job in 1995.  His beloved Edna had passed away in 1989.  Jim then tried to keep busy with woodworking, a skill he had learned at an early age, and left many precious mementos in wood to friends and acquaintances.  Jim is survived by his daughter, Kimberley, who is a nurse in Dallas, Texas.  He is sorely missed.  ٱ

        - Eulogy by Theodore L. “Ted” Cogut, CWO (Ret.)

RALPH E. POWERS, 71, of Lebanon, IL, born March 4, 1928, in Detroit, Mich., died Saturday, Sept. 11, 1999, at Cedar Ridge Healthcare Center, Lebanon, IL. Mr. Powers was a retired Air Force Master Sergeant. He was a weatherman for 28 years.  He graduated from McKendree College, Lebanon, IL, in 1980 with a bachelor of arts degree. Mr. Powers was preceded in death by his wife, PEGGY C. POWERS, whom he married March 3, 1950, in Lebanon, IL, and who passed away a month earlier on Aug. 1, 1999; and parents Ralph Emory and Mary Malasky, Powers.  Surviving are two daughters, Susan P. (Bob) Christoffersen of Euless, Texas, and Ruth G. (Kevin) Brown of Lebanon, IL; a son Ralph W. Powers of Lebanon, IL; and five grandchildren, John, Barbara, Stephen, Bryan and Robert. ٱ

LEONARD W. SNELLMAN (1920 – 1999), passed away October 21, 1999 of congestive heart failure following a courageous battle with cancer. Len was highly respected throughout the weather community. He spent 39 years as a meteorologist for the U.S. government, 17 years as the Chief Scientist for the National Weather Service (NWS) Western Region.  Born June 27, 1920 in Lansford Pennsylvania, he received a BA from Kenyon College in Ohio and obtained meteorological training as an aviation cadet at the University of Chicago.  Upon graduation in 1943, he was retained as a laboratory instructor until the summer of 1944, when he was sent to Louisiana and Texas to teach meteorology to military navigators.  He joined the Weather Bureau forecast staff in Chicago in the late 1940's and reached the rank of district forecaster before his Air National Guard unit was called to active duty in 1951, just a week after he passed his Master's Degree comprehensive exam.  He was sent to the USAF Weather Central in London, England, for two years, then returned to the states and joined the Air Weather Service civilian consultant staff at Andrews AFB in Washington, D.C.  During that time he represented the U.S. as a delegate to the WMO Commission on Synoptic Meteorology.  He also had assignments to the USAF weather central in Japan, to Europe, Africa, Panama, Alaska, and Hawaii.       

     He rejoined the NWS in 1965 in Salt Lake City.  Following his retirement from NWS, he taught synoptic courses at the University of Utah.  In 1986, Len was the chief meteorologist for the Voyager around the world airplane flight. Aside from his passion for weather forecasting and teaching about it, he coached little league and girls softball teams as well as the youth choir of his church for many years.  Among his many honors were the  Department of Commerce (DOC) Gold and Silver Medals, the AMS Award for Outstanding Weather Forecaster, the DOC EEO Program Award and the NWA 1982 Research Achievement Award for outstanding contributions to operational meteorology.  He is survived by his wife, Lynn, four children, six grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

    Len was a featured speaker at many local meteorology meetings and national conferences. Len would reminisce about working under Gordon Dunn at the Chicago Weather Bureau office in the late 1940's.  Gordon told Len that forecasting then was 80% hard work, experience and art, and 20% science, but by the time Len retired it would be 80% science and 20% hard work and experience.  Len said, "that forecast verified well just as did most of Gordon Dunn's weather forecasts."  Len stressed the “funnel” approach to forecasting taking into consideration a good diagnosis of all scales.  He also coined the term, "Meteorological Cancer," in a 1977 paper. He defined it as the increasing tendency of forecasters to abdicate practicing meteorological science and becoming more and more just a conduit of information generated by computers. He challenged all operational meteorologists to fight the disease so that it would not lead to the 20% human input into forecasts shrinking to near zero. He often closed his presentations by reading a poem on excellence, as a guide to forecasters.

EXCELLENCE CAN BE ATTAINED IF YOU

Care more than others think is wise

Risk more than others think is safe

Dream more than others think is practical

Expect more than others think is possible

COLONEL (Ret.) RALPH J. STEELE died of a heart attack on Memorial Day 2000.  A Funeral service was held on 1 June at the McHenry Funeral Home in Corvallis, Oregon.  Burial was on Friday, 2 June at the Willamette National Cemetery.  In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the American Lung Association or each individuals own charity.

     John Fuller states in his Thor's Legions that Capt Ralph J. Steele, won a Bronze Star for duty with the 21st WS in France, the 21st WS was the most decorated unit in WWII.  Maj Steele also added an oak leaf cluster to the Bronze Star for weather service in the Korean War where he commanded the Seoul Forecast Center in 1952   "before becoming one of AWS' most vociferous proponents of centralized and computerized forecasting in the late 1960s and 1970s."  Col Steele commanded the Air Force Global Weather Central at Offutt from 1965 to 1970 as it  transitioned from Det 1, 3rd Weather Wing to AFGWC. He then became the first AWS Deputy Chief of Staff Systems at Scott AFB.  He is survived by his wife, Polly Steele.  A complete obituary was not available at presstime.

 

COL (Ret.) LOWELL A. STILES of Honolulu, Hawaii, died on 20 April 2000.  The funeral was in Kaneohe, Hawaii on       1 May 2000.  He is survived by his wife Doris who is very ill and their children.  A biography and obituary were not available at presstime. 

   Member Al Kaehn writes, When I got to the AWS Hqs in 1964, fresh out of graduate school, Col  Stiles was the AWS DO. I was assigned to Aerospace Sciences. I had the very good fortune to have the task of responding to the bugle call ("Charge") from Col Bill Barney when we were trying to build and operate what was then called the "SOFNET" -- Solar Observing and Forecasting Network. Building the system from scratch, with a lot of begging, borrowing, and forging memo's of agreement, taught me staff work very fast. There was a lot on the AWS plate at the time: we were building up the 1st Wea Group in Vietnam to over 600 people; AFGWC was converting from IBM to UNIVAC computers and doing it largely in house and out of hide -- with no degradation in service; we were standing up the Automated Weather Network (AWN) at Tinker AFB; and we were maintaining cold war readiness at worldwide units. One can appreciate what Col Stiles had on his plate during those years. He was a key player in the senior leadership of AWS, and even though I was not in Ops, I had a lot of direct interaction with him. And did I learn!! He willingly shared his vast experience in directing young action officers like me; he gave us rope and let us go, but like an understanding, loving father, he provided firm, clear guidance when called for to keep us headed in the right direction. I will never forget his calm demeanor, which exuded competence. In every aspect, he illustrated by word and deed what the senior officer corps stands for. He left AWS Hqs in July 1967 to become the Commander of the 1st Weather Wing in the Pacific, at the height of American involvement in Southeast Asia. Little did I know at that time that I would work for him as the 10th Weather Sqdn Commander during the last six months of his Air Force career (July 1970-December 1970). As you know, he retired from the 1WW/CC job and spent the rest of his life in Hawaii; a super officer and a perfect gentleman.  Joe and Sandy Tucker were visiting Hawaii when Lowell died and were able to attend the funeral along with Bob Allen (PACAF/DOW) and other weather colleagues.

RICHARD DEAN STONEMARK, Lieutenant Colonel, US Air Force, retired, 59, of Belleville, IL, born Sept 22, 1940, in Ironwood, MI, died of cancer Friday, March 17, 2000, at his residence. Mr. Stonemark served in the US Air Force for 25 years in Air Weather Service and the Military Airlift Command.  He earned his bachelor of science degree at Michigan Technological University; attended graduate school at St. Louis University studying meteorology; and received a master's degree from Auburn University.  For the past 15 years, he has been active in the real estate community, as an agent, broker and member of the board of directors of the Belleville Area Association of Realtors.  He served as president of the board in 1998. At the time of his death, he was a broker and manager for Coldwell Banker Brown Realtors, O'Fallon, IL.

    Mr. Stonemark was preceded in death by his parents, Howard and Ardeth, nee Nelson, Stonemark  Surviving are his wife of 34 years, Patricia E., nee Butler, Stonemark; two sons, David R. (Kathleen) Stonemark of Panama City Beach, FL, and Robert H. (Carolyn) Stonemark of Omaha, NE; two grandchildren, Kelly Ann Stonemark of Panama City Beach, FL, and Emma Megan Stonemark of Omaha, NE; a special aunt, Kay Stonemark of Duluth, MI; and several cousins. The funeral was on 21 March 2000 with interment at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in Saint Louis, MO.
Dick attended many AWA reunions.  He was on the winning golf team at the 1998 reunion in Saint Louis.  Member, John Lasley mentioned, “I spent some time with them at the last AWA reunion; Patti was the one suffering then, trying to recover from a bout with cancer. Dick worked for me in 7WS.  Did a superb job running the USAREUR Tactical Forecast Unit.  Always had a good sense of humor, even when I talked to them about Patti's fight with the Big C. God Bless the Stonemarks!” 

JAMES F. VAN DYNE II died at home in Akron May 3, 2000 following a long illness. Born in Chicago, IL, he retired from Babcock and Wilcox Engineering in 1982 after 35 years.  He was a member of St. Sebastian's Roman Catholic Church since 1963 and was a past member of the Ushers there.  He was a former member of the Knights of Columbus of the Sacred Heart Church in Wadsworth Ohio.  He was a veteran of WW II during which he served with the U.S. Army Air Corps as a meteorologist with the 17th Weather Squadron in the South Pacific. He was drafted into the U.S. Army Infantry in August 1941 but in October of that year he enlisted in the Air Corps.  Originally intending to go to pilot training, he was found to have less than perfect eyesight and signed up for meteorology school. Transfer to meteorology was delayed, however, and he served for several months in the military police until he sought-out the officer in charge of the meteorology school and had his transfer expedited.  He volunteered as a forward weather observer for more than 70 combat missions in B24's and B25's. As such, he also functioned as a gunner (usually waist gunner).  He was not rotated because he was not a regular crewmember.  He was awarded the Air Medal and was nominated for the Distinguished Flying Cross. This last was toward the end of the war and after V-J day, the medal was forgotten by all, including him, in the rush stateside. 

    Beginning as a draftsman with Babcock and Wilcox, he worked his way to chief engineer and headed the Chicago engineering office for that company. In that position he championed equal rights hiring, despite opposition in the home office.  He prevailed, despite this until transferred to Barberton Ohio when the company consolidated operations in 1959.  During this time, he bought his first home in Des Plaines, IL in an unincorporated development.  The homes there were served with septic systems and no provision for storm water run-off.  He and several others organized other residents and formed a Sanitary Commission and had sewers installed.  While with Babcock and Wilcox, he was instrumental in engineering design teams that developed the current generation of power plants for several electric utilities, primarily in Ohio, and left his name on several important engineering patents involved with steam generation, which are held by that company.

     After his retirement in 1982, he remained active and for the past several years he edited the newsletter for his old unit, the "17th WS — Weather Merchants" and was a regular at the unit's reunions until illness overtook him.

    He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Eleanor; daughters, Suzanne (Daniel) Mahon and Diane Sweitzer of Columbus Ohio, Nancy (David) Wigle of Akron Ohio, sons James F. III (Sally) of Erie PA, David (Esther) of Lima Ohio, sisters, Mrs. Frances Kretchmer of Chicago IL. Mrs. Katherine (Thomas) Dougal of Tampa FL; 10 grandchildren and two great-grandsons.

    A memorial Mass was celebrated May 6, at St. Sebastian's Roman Catholic Church in Akron.  The family asks donations be made to the St Thomas Hospital, Hospice of Summa, 444 N. Main St., Akron, Ohio 44310. He was a great example to all AWA members – supporting the present – remembering the past and sharing it with many – Air Force Weather. ٱ            

 

Ed.  Your AWA Board members apologize for not being able to post obituaries on all deceased members and unfortunately we will even miss posting some in the roster if information is not submitted by relatives and friends. Some obituaries are now available on the AWA Internet Web site and in the future, we will post the obituaries on the Web site as soon as they come in to us.   
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