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Michael Collins Wales (1919 - 2013)

Obituary
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March 4, 1919 - Sept. 19, 2013
SOUTH BEND - Michael Collins Wales, WW II veteran, passed away peacefully at home on September 19, 2013, in Rancho Mirage, California. Born on March 4, 1919, in Troy, New York, he was the son of the late Rena (Collins) Wales. He married the late Corinne (Hamilton) Wales of West Sand Lake, New York, on June 30, 1953, and was preceded by her passing on November 29, 2008. A loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, cousin, son, godparent and friend, Michael is survived by three children - Kathrene Wales (Hugh Dismuke) Rancho Mirage, California, Beth Wales (Bill Kelly), Clifton Park, New York, and, Michael Collins Wales II (Courtney Wales), La Quinta, California; four grandchildren - Michael Barrett Swartz (Elyse Andrews), John Marshall Swartz, Madeline Cate Wales and Caroline Grace Wales; sister - Caroline S. Wales; first cousin - Susie Bane; sisters-in-law - Althea Hamilton and Gerlinde Wales; brothers-in-law - Edward Hamilton and Richard Hamilton; four nieces - Linda Geiger, Carol Robinson, Karen Wales and Katharine Wales; five nephews - Edward Hamilton, Jr., Bill Wales, David Wales, Dr. John Wales and Michael A. Wales. He was also preceded by the death of brothers, Arthur P. Wales and David C. Wales. Michael was a decorated World War II Army Captain. Beginning as a high school student, he attended the Citizens' Military Training Camp in Plattsburgh, New York, every summer for four years and completed the program in 1939. He joined the Army in January 1942 as a Sergeant and participated in advanced WW II training in the IRTC Camp Croft in South Carolina for six months before attending The Infantry School in Fort Benning, Georgia. From 1942 to 1943, he served as a Platoon Leader and Executive Officer of Company G 334th at Camp Howze, Texas. One year later, upon arrival for active duty in Naples, Italy, he moved forward into continuous battle as a combat Infantryman and once again assumed the role of Platoon Leader and Executive Officer for Company B 143rd Infantry, 36th Division. He later became the Commander of the 504th and 516th Military Police Battalion, 7th Army, leading American troops to victory with liberations in Italy (most notably The Battle of Monte Cassino), France and Germany from 1944 to 1945. His significant decorations include two Purple Hearts, Silver Service Star, Bronze Star Medal-Combat Infantryman Badge, Presidential Unit Emblem, American Campaign Medal, three European-African-Middle Eastern medals, WW II Victory Medal and the Army of Occupation (Germany) Medal. On August 18, 2012, Michael was appointed the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor by Decree of the President of the French Republic. The ceremony took place at the American Legion - Hollywood Post 43 and his award was bestowed by The Honorable David Martinon, Consul General of France in Los Angeles, California. At the end of WW II, Michael began his business life as a buyer of printing for General Electric's advertising and promotion division. This GE unit was the largest ad agency in the world at the time. Michael, an environmentalist before it was fashionable, became the Circulation Director of a magazine called The New York State Conservationist in the early 50s. A staunch Democrat as the grandson of the late Senator Michael F. Collins, he was also very active in statewide politics, including helping to elect former New York Governor W. Averell Harriman into office in 1955. His grandfather, who was also the Editor and Proprietor of the Troy Observer, had a seminal influence on Michael's career path in publishing as well. In 1957, he moved his family to South Bend, Indiana, when he accepted a position as Sales Promotion Director with Ave Maria Press at the University of Notre Dame. In 1964, he started his own business, Michael C. Wales & Co. Direct Marketing Counselors to Management, and served as a consultant for national Catholic organizations including Claretian Publications, National Catholic Reporter, Divine Word Seminary, Passionist Missions, University of St. Thomas and the University of Notre Dame. Past clients also encompassed sports promoters, banks, civic organizations, fundraisers and product manufacturers. The Wales family moved to Southern California in 1985, where he continued his successful management consulting practice until his retirement a few years ago. His professional mantra focused on showing clients how to realize the maximum return on their investment by providing ideas, methods and strategies to reach objectives. Michael thrived on the challenge of creating new opportunities for his clients. Personal business pursuits included owning winning thoroughbred race horses and collecting fine art and antiques. Affiliations included lifetime membership in the Catholic Press Association, Direct Marketing Association, Disabled American Veterans and the Texas 36th Infantry Division. Michael, a devout Catholic, was a parishioner of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Palm Desert, California. In lieu of flowers, his family requests memorial donations be given to St. Jude League, 205 West Monroe Street, Chicago, IL 60606. Michael will receive full military honor funeral services and Catholic Mass with interment following at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, on Monday, February 24, 2014, at 8:45 a.m. Though his gifts were many, Michael Collins Wales was down to earth and humble. He truly made the world a better place, enriching so many lives throughout his wonderful 94 years of life!
Published in South Bend Tribune on Dec. 15, 2013
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