Wallace Henry East, 90, of Niceville, Fla., went to be with the Lord and his wife on her birthday, March 7, 2014. He was born in Baltimore, Md., on Feb. 7, 1924, to Henry and Esther East. He attended Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, an all-boys high school with a curriculum emphasizing mathematics, sciences and engineering.
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Wallace began his involvement in World War II when he joined the United States Maritime Service (the Merchant Marines) as a Seaman Apprentice in 1943 at Sheepshead Bay, N.Y., at the age of 19. While at the U.S. Maritime Service Training Station at Sheepshead, he received a Meritorious Service Award. He then attended the War Department Transportation Corps Marine Officer Cadet School in St. Petersburg, Fla., where he earned a certificate in Diesel Engineering and became a qualified Junior Marine Officer in the United States Transportation Corps. During the war, he served in the engine rooms on several S/S diesel powered steam vessels as an Oiler and Assistant Engineer, eventually attaining the rank of second lieutenant. He was deployed in the South West Pacific Theater of Operations, where he transited between Australia, New Guinea and San Francisco. He also served with American Export Lines where he traveled to Guatemala, Egypt, Palestine, and Turkey.
The long-recognized, valuable and valiant service of the American Merchant Marine was given veteran status in 1991, and Wallace was awarded an Honorable Discharge Certificate from the United States Coast Guard as a testimonial of honest and faithful oceangoing service during the WWII period of armed conflict.
After the war, Wallace continued his career in the Mechanical Department of Chessie System Railroads in the field of diesel mechanics. He worked in offices located in Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Huntington, W.V., and retired from the Railroad in 1985 with 44 years of service. He then retreated to Ponte Vedra, Fla., in 1987, and moved to Niceville, Fla., in 1991.
He is preceded in death by his precious wife, Betty "Bunny" East, and his parents. He is survived by his stepchildren, Skip and Kathy Clark, Teri Groo, Michael and Deborah Clark, and Patrick and Deb Clark; six grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.
A memorial service for Wallace will be held on Saturday, March 15, 2014, at 5:30 p.m., at Rosemont Baptist Church in Niceville, where he served as a Deacon. Visitation will follow the service. Interment will be with his wife in Cumberland, Md., at Hillcrest Memorial Park. You may express condolences to the family and sign the guestbook at www.heritagegardensfuneralhome.com. Arrangements are being handled by Heritage Gardens Funeral Home in Niceville, Fla.
Heritage Gardens Funeral Home & Cemetery
2201 N Partin Dr Niceville, FL 32578
Published Online in Northwest Florida Daily News on Mar. 13, 2014