Edwin Lee Dean
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Edwin Lee Dean, age 92 of Hurley, Missouri, passed away Thursday, September 13, 2012, in the Ozark Regional Healthcare Center in Crane, Missouri. He was born on August 12, 1920, to Albert and Elsie Barnett Dean in Spring Creek Valley, north of Hurley where he resided his entire life.
A 1938 graduate of Hurley High School, Edwin volunteered for the U.S. Army in 1941. In June, 1942, when then Major William O. Darby called for volunteers to man the newly authorized First Ranger Battalion, Private Dean was one of the original members selected to be a part of this elite outfit. After months of intensive commando training in Scotland, Ranger Dean was a part of the First Ranger Battalion that landed in North Africa in November, 1942. He saw action in several key battles and beach landings, being awarded a Silver Star for his heroism during the Sened Station Raid—one of the first such citations ever awarded to an Army Ranger. While in North Africa, he was among the Rangers chosen to serve as a part of General George Patton's contingent of bodyguards and served in the honor guard for Patton's slain Chief of Staff. During July and August of 1943, Ranger Dean and his unit spearheaded the invasion of Sicily where he saw action at the assault of Gela, the capture of Butera, and the pursuit of the German army across the island of Messina. Other medals and citations awarded to Ranger Dean were the Bronze Star Medal, two Purple Hearts, the Combat Infantryman's Badge, Presidential Unit Citation, European Theater Campaign Medal, and World War II Victory Medal.
By the invasion of Italy in September, 1943, Ranger Dean's proven leadership skills and courage resulted in his promotion to company first sergeant. It was during this period when the Rangers were fighting their way up the boot of Italy that now Colonel Darby personally chose First Sergeant Dean to receive a battlefield commission as a second lieutenant. He was then assigned to the newly formed Fourth Ranger Battalion as company commander. It was also during this period of time that Second Lieutenant Dean received severe shrapnel wounds in his legs and a broken bone in his foot and was taken to a field hospital for treatment. Upon learning that his unit was moving out for a beach landing at Anzio, Second Lieutenant Dean left the hospital without being released by his doctors and rejoined his unit. Ironically, he did not receive this Purple Heart until some 54 years later. It was later reported by one of Ranger Dean's former commanders that he "was the first man to hit the beach at Anzio." There are countless eyewitness accounts of Ranger Dean's bravery and heroism under fire. In recognition of his courage, sacrifice, and devotion to this country and fellowman, in 2009 Ranger Dean was inducted into the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Ranger Dean was reactivated during the Korean War in 1950. He volunteered for Airborne training and earned his parachutist badge in April, 1951 with the 82nd Airborne. He completed 19 jumps before illness led to his discharge from the service. At that point, Edwin returned to his hometown of Hurley. There he began his new life as a farmer and a 22-year career at the Federal Medical Center in Springfield, MO.
Edwin was a solid citizen and respected member of his community for his entire life. His community involvement included a 60-plus year commitment to the Masonic Lodge and Scottish Rite. He also served many years on the Hurley School Board as a member and as President.
In 1948, Edwin married Clara LeGrande of Pierce City, MO. To this marriage of 25 years was born three children: a son and two daughters. He would later become and adored grandfather to nine grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.
Edwin in preceded in death by his parents, his beloved Aunt Mollie and Uncle Fred Steele, his wife Clara, his uncle and best friend Dale Dean, his two brothers Donald and Bobby, and a sister, Wanda Hicks. He is survived by his wife of 38 years Winifred; two daughters, Patsy Phares of Willow Springs and Judy Boulware of Buffalo; a son, Steve Dean of Conway, AR; and a step-daughter Kelli Wright of New Orleans, LA. Edwin is also survived by three brothers and two sisters: Freddie Dean of Hurley, Jerry Dean of Marionville, Paul Dean of Republic, Betty Ann Giles of Peoria, IL, and Mary Jeanette Norbell of Monett.
Funeral services were held in Manlove Stumpff Funeral Home in Crane, MO at 2:00 p.m., Sunday, September 16, 2012. Burial followed in Short Cemetery near Hurley. Visitation was held from 4:00 - 6:00 p.m., Saturday, September 15th. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Short Cemetery, P.O. Box 274, Hurley, MO 65675.
Published in the News-Leader from Sept. 15 to Sept. 17, 2012