Obituary: Fletcher, Eugene
FLETCHER, Eugene (Age 91) Of 520 Abbott Road, Walla Walla, passed away February 12, 2013, at Providence St. Mary Medical Center. He was born October 21, 1921, in Dayton, Washington, to Orie and Lela Winnett Fletcher. He attended school in Starbuck and country schools near Dayton. After his sophomore year in high school, he went to the East Coast as an apprentice jockey. For nearly two years, he rode on the tracks on the Eastern and Mid-West Racing Circuit. Overweight at 101 pounds, he was forced to end that career. He returned to Dayton and graduated from Dayton High School with the Class of 1940. In the fall of 1940, Eugene enrolled at Whitman College and studied pre-law for two years. During that time, he was also enrolled in the Civilian Pilot Training program at the college sponsored by the U S Government. There, he received his civilian pilot’s license. In June 1942, he enlisted in the U S Army Air Forces as an Aviation Cadet. While attending Whitman, he met Evelyn Sherrod on a blind date. They were married in Walla Walla on August 25, 1942. He was called to active duty January 1, 1943 and graduated as a pilot and second lieutenant on November 3, 1943. After more advanced training, he was assigned a crew and served as lead pilot on a B-17 bomber with the 8th Air Force, 95th Bomb Group, 412th Squadron based at Horham, England. He flew 35 combat missions over enemy territory including a Shuttle Mission from England to Russia to Trezbinia, Poland, and back to Poltava, Russia, then to Bazau, Romania, landing in Italy. After several days in Italy, they flew back to England bombing an air field in Toulouse, France, in support of the Allied Southern Invasion. After World War II, he lived in Pasco for four years before moving to Tekoa, Washington, where he lived for over 50 years. He served another tour of duty during the Korean Conflict and remained in the Air Force Reserve retiring as a Major in 1974. He was a farmer in the Tekoa area until his retirement when he moved to Walla Walla. Farming was his life work but he wrote two books which were published by the University of Washington Press. The readers’ response was overwhelming. He also enjoyed traveling and his family. Eugene was a member of the Washington State School Directors’ Association for many years serving as chairman of the State Legislative Committee, a member of the Tekoa Community Church, Daedalian Society, VFW, Washington Wheat Growers and other farm organizations. Survivors are his wife, Evelyn, at the family home, sons and daughters-in-law David and Dorothy, and Jim and Linda, all of Tekoa, Gary and Gloria, Waipahu, Hawaii, and daughter and son-in-law, Sherry and Terry McConn of Walla Walla, 10 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren. Survivors also include two brothers, Gerald of Tekoa and Cecil of Dayton, three sisters, Leora Patton, Spokane, Cletys Bowen, Dayton, Alma Elaine Wolfe, Bellingham, and numerous nieces and nephews. A reunion celebration of life will be held Saturday, February 16, 2013 at the Fellowship Hall of the Tekoa Community Church. Those attending are asked to gather at noon to share refreshments followed by the celebration of Eugene’s life. Memorial contributions may be made to the Tekoa Ambulance Fund or Whitman County Hospice through the Herring Groseclose Funeral Home, 315 W. Alder Street, Walla Walla, WA 99362. Family and friends are invited to sign the online guestbook at www.herringgroseclose.com.