1915 - 2013
Lon Wise was born in Baker Hill, AL, on April 10, 1915 and passed away in Pensacola, FL, on December 26, 2013. He had three older brothers, two older sisters and one younger sister. They grew up on the family farm. He lost his Mother at age twelve in an automobile accident. As a young farm hand he was required to plow fields, milk cows, tend to livestock and harvest crops. His primary education was in a one room school house. He graduated from high school in Abbeville, AL, where he was an "A" student and a football star. After working construction for two years he entered Troy State on a football scholarship. It was at Troy that he met the love of his life, Mary Whitten. After graduation in 1940, Lon and Mary were married at Mary's home in Roanoke, AL, the day after Christmas. They moved to Hartford, AL, where he was a history teacher and head football coach. His coaching stint was very successful. He coached two undefeated teams with players who received scholarships to Alabama and Auburn.
WWII came and Lon enlisted in the Army. He was in the 2nd Infantry Division, 38th Regiment, 2nd Battalion, HQ Company. He landed on Omaha Beach, Normandy, D-Day plus 2. He saw immediate action in the Battle of Brittany and was subsequently in four major campaigns including the Battle of the Bulge where his unit held off the German counteroffensive at the Elsenborn Ridge. He crossed the bridge at Remagen and pursued the enemy into Czechoslovakia. His decorations include the Bronze Star, the French Cross of War, and the Combat Infantryman's Badge.
Lon maintained close contact with the men in his unit throughout the remainder of his life. Lon and Mary were frequent attendees of 2nd Division reunions.
After the war he earned his Masters Degree in Education at the University of Alabama. He became principal of Eufaula High School in 1950, but Uncle Sam wanted his services again, this time to serve in the FBI. He accepted the challenge and graduated from the FBI Academy in Washington, DC, in 1952. The family then moved to Milwaukee, WI.
While proud of his association with the FBI, they decided to return to the south and continue Lon's career as a school administrator. In 1952, he accepted the job as principal of Century HS, in Escambia County, FL. After five years he accepted the position of principal at Blount Jr. HS in Pensacola.
He went on to become the first principal at Workman then Bellview and finally the first principal at Pine Forest where the stadium was named in his honor.
He was devoted to every school, every faculty, every student, and the teaching profession. His loyalty, dedication, and love were acknowledged by faculty and students throughout the years. He retired from the ECSD in 1980.
He and Mary continued to attend football games at the Lon R. Wise stadium as he cheered for Pine Forest. He was affectionately known by all as the Number One Eagle.
There were many noteworthy accomplishments throughout his career in education. He was a trail blazer. He was willing to give anyone an opportunity regardless of race, creed, or religion. He hired the first minority middle school teacher as well as the first minority and female administrators.
He was recognized for his skill in assembling professional faculties who not only worked together to achieve the highest levels of academic success but whom also were proud of the camaraderie of being a member of Mr. Wise's team.
Throughout his entire life he held an unwavering faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He was a quiet, compassionate Christian who walked the walk and led by example. For sixty years he was active at Richards Memorial Methodist Church where he volunteered as a Sunday school teacher, served with Men's Club and as a church elder.
Lon and Mary were married 73 years on December, 26, 2013. They have six children, Whit Wise, Marilon (Elton Killam), Lane (Walker Anderson), Jena (PJ Mead), Tom Wise and Matt (Karen) Wise; six grandchildren, and nine great grandchildren.
The family will receive friends on Thursday, January 2, 2014 from 2:00 to 4: 00 p.m. at Pensacola Memorial Gardens Funeral Home.
Funeral services will be held at 10:00 a.m. Friday, January 3, 2014 at Myrtle Grove United Methodist Church with Reverend Riley Richardson officiating.
Interment will follow at Barrancas National Cemetery, NAS Pensacola.
In lieu of flowers please send donations to the Lon Wise Scholarship Fund, 100 Highland Avenue, Troy, AL, 36082.
Express your condolences in our guestbook at pnj.com/obits
Pensacola Memorial Gardens & Funeral Home - Pensacola
7433 Pine Forest Rd Pensacola, FL 32526
Published in Pensacola News Journal from Jan. 1 to Jan. 3, 2014