1922 - 2016
Jack Orin Elkins, father, grandfather, soldier and one of the nation’s last surviving World War II POWs, died peacefully on Wednesday, February 17, 2016.
He was 93.
Jack was born in Garfield and raised in Oakesdale, Washington in 1922 and lived an amazing and fulfilling life.
He was only 19 when he joined the U.S. Marines just before the start of World War II and like many young men of that generation, he had to grow up fast.
Jack’s natural toughness and spirit, honed by three years in a brutal Japanese prisoner of war camp, was evident the rest of his life.
Even as his body failed in the end, his mind was razor-sharp and woe to anyone who tried to outsmart Jack Elkins.
Jack told countless stories from his eventful life, some were funny, some poignant, some sad but every one had meaning.
His memories went back to those months in a Corregidor foxhole waiting for the inevitable Japanese invasion, followed by a Yokohama prison camp where for Jack giving up was never an option.
Jack was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in WW II.
The war changed him but he wasn’t bitter.
Following the war’s liberation Jack returned to life back home, attending Gonzaga University then settling first in Spokane, WA and eventually in Everett, WA where he built his equipment leasing company.
Through the decades Jack enjoyed chance encounters with the powerful and famous: Harry Truman, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Bing Crosby; but it was the thousands of satisfying hours spent with regular folks and family that he most enjoyed.
Jack was an avid handball player at his favorite spot, the Elks in Everett, where he met many of his dear friends.
Jack believed that your word is the most important thing you have and he lived his life that way.
He especially passed that on to his grandchildren.
Jack was more than a war hero to his grandsons; he was an all around hero to them.
Jack spent a great deal of his later years contributing to raising his dearly beloved grandsons, which demonstrated to them what it truly meant to be loved beyond measure.
He was the epitome of the family patriarch, gathering his clan around his table every holiday season and making plenty of time to instruct his growing grandsons in the art of building go-carts and crafting wooden swords.
Never a man who needed to raise his voice, Jack earned respect and friendship in the way he carried himself and the values he projected every day: honesty, dignity, and determination.
Accomplished but never boastful, quick witted but never mean spirited, hard working but never too busy to enjoy time with friends and family, Jack was tireless in his care for those he loved and his example will stand forever in the minds of his family and friends.
Jack met his wife, Gladys, in Spokane, WA and they were married in 1951.
He was preceded in death by his loving wife, Gladys; his sons, Lonny and Mike; and brothers, Frank and Bill.
He is survived by his daughter, Ann; his grandsons, Brian, Jesse, Jeff, Jeremy, Jason, and Justin, his great-grandsons, Bretton, Orin and Archer; and sisters, Marian and Betty.
A Memorial Service with Full Military Honors will be at 1 p.m. Friday, April 1, 2016, at Tahoma National Cemetery, 18600 SE 240th St., Kent, Washington 98042.
Purdy & Walters with Cassidy Funeral Home, Everett, WA
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