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Obituary: Gindraux, Jules C.

GINDRAUX, Jules C. June 10, 1918 - March 14, 2013 “Onwards and Upward” “Sparkle-plenty,” that was Jules. One of his many fanciful invented expressions, it describes him to a T. His sparkling personality, ingenious mind and boundless curiosity lit up his life as he adventured all over the globe, making friends and great memories galore during his almost 95 years. At only six, he became the “man” of the family, helping his mother Alice Gindraux keep the house warm and feed his three younger siblings. This early loyalty to family and cheerful willingness to work hard and do whatever needed to be done became hallmarks of his character. Jules’s childhood in Spokane “was somewhat Tom Sawyerish,” to quote from his memoirs. He gathered squab from under the fabled Monroe Street Bridge, hopped empty boxcars on slow freight trains, and delighted in pranks, adventures and inventions. He formed friendships that lasted well into retirement. He sent his sisters to college and did not expect to leave Spokane or have higher education of his own. World War II changed that. Jules volunteered to join the U.S. Army Air Corps as soon as he heard about Pearl Harbor. Thus began his amazing international life and education. As an Air Transport Command pilot, Jules flew many missions across the Atlantic and Africa. In June 1944, he was commended for his role in the rescue of the crew of a downed B-17 in the Arabian Desert. After two tours of duty and promotion to Captain, Jules received an Honorable Discharge from the Army Air Corps in 1946 and went on to serve in the U.S. Air Force Reserve until 1955. His service to our country was recognized again in 2011, when the Honor Flight Network flew him to Washington, DC. While in Cairo during the war, Jules fell in love with Emily Miller, a beautiful, sunburned blonde who worked for the Foreign Service of the State Department in Cairo. Instantly nicknamed “Pinky” (for the sunburn) when they met on a blind date, Pinky joined her adventurous life to Jules’s, beginning 67 amazing years together. Loving life in Egypt and the Middle East, Jules and Pinky stayed after the war. With his great friend Fauzi el Hoss, Jules founded Middle East Airlines in Beirut, Lebanon, becoming its first pilot and navigator as well as chief operating officer. After four years of flying sheiks, Muslim pilgrims, merchants and all manner of dignitaries and regular people, Jules turned in his MEA Captain’s wings in 1950 to join Trans World Airlines as District Sales Manager for the Persian Gulf in Basra, Iraq. Jules’s outgoing personality and business genius led to a long, successful career with TWA. He loved his international assignments so much that he declined promotions to TWA’s corporate head- quarters in New York. After five happy years in Basra, Jules, Pinky and infant daughter Karen started a new adventure with TWA in Bombay, India. Son Craig soon joined the family in 1956. Next came assignments in Rome, Italy; Los Angeles (Jules’s only “foreign” assignment); Hong Kong; Lagos, Nigeria; Bombay for the second time; and Casablanca, Morocco. In each place, Jules made many friends, had fun, travelled widely, loved and respected the people and cultures, and created much success for TWA. In 1978, Jules commenced his next grand adventure, that of gardener/environmental activist/civic volunteer/bon vivant at Priest Lake, Idaho. “Retirement did not imply snuggling in rocking chairs and watching the world go by,” again quoting from his memoirs. He built a log home in Coolin for Pinky and himself in the middle of winter. His spectacular organic garden produced abundantly, thanks to his assiduous gathering of leaves, sawdust and assorted droppings, the more “ripe” the better. Loving the Lake and dismayed by attempts to despoil it, Jules joined with others to protect it. He and his peers monitored the water, formed the Concerned Residents of Priest Lake and established a tradition of conservation in the Priest Lake Basin. From that consciousness grew the Selkirk-Priest Basin Association, now the Selkirk Conservation Alliance. Jules helped his community in many other ways, volunteering with the Priest Lake TV Translator Board, the local volunteer fire department and the Coolin Days Parade. With his characteristic zest, Jules embraced lake life - huckleberry picking, cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, ice fishing, long walks on country roads - Jules did it all, making friends all along the way. Jules and Pinky’s home became a social hub, scene of many parties and good times. Nineteen years and many snowstorms later, Jules and Pinky decided it was time to leave Priest Lake to be nearer to civilization. They settled in Hayden, Idaho, in 1998. Jules kept up his civic involve- ment as advisor to various environmental groups and mentor to grade school kids. His pit greenhouse produced jungle like crops of spinach. Swimming at the local pool, visiting the gym frequently, making wine and beer, supporting Pinky’s busy social life and making new friends, Jules kept busy, and retirement continued to be anything but a rocking chair. A raconteur par excellence, Jules gave us many happy evenings of stories told in his inimitable style as family and friends laughed and joined in, enjoying Pinky’s delicious dinners and sipping wine for hours. His respect for the many cultures he lived in and his love for people from all over the world shined through his stories. After much convincing that others would also love his stories, Jules wrote his memoirs “Tale of No Two Days Alike.” The lives and times described therein, not only Jules’s, are truly unique. Of all his accomplishments, Jules’s best was that of being an extraordinarily good person. The work ethic and mirthful enjoyment of life that infused his character in childhood never dimmed. He greeted you with a big grin and a warm welcome. He always saw the best in people. Generous with his time, spirit and treasure, Jules made lasting friendships, helped others and spread his sparkle everywhere. So many of us will miss and cherish him … Pinky Gindraux, who shared his life for 67 amazing years; Karen and Dave Shill, not just daughter and son-in-law, but best friends; Carole Wright, daughter-in-law; brother-in-law and good friend Tom Miller and his family; grandson by marriage Ray Shill and his family; and many more family and friends nearby and far away. Thank you Jules, thank you Dad, for being our loyal friend, loving husband and devoted father. Jules died peacefully at Hospice House in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, on March 14, 2013. Wanting to nourish the Earth as one of his final acts, Jules had chosen green burial at the White Eagle Nature Preserve Cemetery near Goldendale, Washington. His burial took place on March 18, amidst trees, breezes and sunny blue skies dotted with clouds, his favorite kind of day. His instructions were to “absolutely avoid tone of grief but relate instead happy times with family and friends.” With that in mind, smile when you think of Jules and help spread his sparkle-plentiness with a contribution in his name if you wish. His chosen charities are: Selkirk Conservation Alliance, P.O. Box 1809, Priest River, ID 83856,, 208-448-1110 and The Nature Conservancy, Attn: Treasury (web/donate), 4245 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 100, Arlington, VA 22203, USA (800) 628-6860 For Jules You gently soared through life, uplifts and downdrafts, seeking, finding, sharing and above all loving. Your wings are folded now, rest well my friend… and when a gentle breeze, light as a feather, touches us, we hear you whisper. - Cristina Smyth


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