John Franklin Lorence
February 15, 1927 - August 25, 2013
INDEPENDENCE - John made his final flight at sunrise on Sunday, August 25, 2013. He was born at Salem Memorial Hospital to Jennings Bryan Lorence and Ruth Brown Lorence on February 15, 1927, as a late Valentine's gift. He was a third generation Oregonian. He spent his boyhood on the Lorence family farm, north of Monmouth, where his father, brother, Bob, and he operated the largest grass seed operation in the area -- approximately 1000 acres.
John attended both grade school and Monmouth High School on the college campus of what is now Western Oregon Univ. He was very patriotic, leaving high school at the end of his junior year at age 17 to join the U.S. Navy to be a part of World War II. His unit, consisting of young men from Marion and Polk counties, arrived at boot camp on D-Day.
Vessels and stations served on were NTC; Farragut, Idaho: NATTC; Norman, Oklahoma: CASU21; and USS Lake Champlain (CV-39). Medals received were American Area, Victory World War II and European African. He was on a carrier en route to the Pacific when President Truman commanded the atomic bombs to be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. His carrier was ordered to turn around and help bring our U.S. military home from Europe. (He always felt this saved his life, as most of his buddies from boot camp, who were deployed earlier never returned.) He was proud to be a WWII veteran and a member of the Greatest Generation.
After his discharge, he was granted a high school diploma from Monmouth High School due to his military service. He graduated with a degree in engineering from Oregon State University. He was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. Following graduation, he joined the U.S. Navy Reserve and retired as a Lt. Commander.
He was employed by Caterpillar Corp. as an administrator in their engineering dept. at the Dallas, OR plant and as their liaison with the home office in Peoria, Illinois. Following his retirement, he was requested to return as a consultant at their plant in Monterey, Mexico
In 1950, John was married to Evelyn Jackson. They had three children: Vicki, Jodi, and Randy. She preceded him in death in 1988.
Other than his family, John's great love was for flying. His first flight at age two was in his mother's lap in a Jenny. He has been a private pilot for 42 years. As the sound of airplane engines overhead was music to his ears, he became one of the first residents of the Independence Airpark. In 1991, John was married to Evelyn Cates Smith (widow of Dr. Edgar H. Smith) in the chapel of the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA. They spent many happy years flying. The Reno Air Races was an annual event. Among their favorite flights were the Oregon Trail, the Lewis and Clark Trail, the Canyon Lands and many convention sites in the U.S. and Canada, in their Grumman Tiger, as members of the American Yankee Assoc.
Both John and Evelyn were loyal volunteers at the Evergreen Aviation Museum for 11 years. They were charter members and were awarded lifetime memberships. John was a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association and built two experimental airplanes. He maintained memberships in USS Lake Champlain Association, AOPA, the Oregon Pilots Assoc., Antique and Classic Aircraft, WAAM museum in Hood River, VFW, American Legion, Beaver Squadron of ANA, Willamette Chapter Military Officers, Independence Elks Lodge, and his favorite -- the Eugene Hangar Quiet Birdmen.
He is survived by his wife of 23 years, Evelyn, and daughters: Vicki Westerman (Joe), Jodi Heatherington (Doug), son: Randy Lorence (Tarri), step-daughter Diane Davie Murphy (Dan), seven grandchildren, two step-granddaughters, and two great grand -children.
Arrangements are by Farnstrom Mortuary, Independence. Celebration of Life will be Sept. 14th, 2:00 pm at the Restlawn Memory Gardens Chapel, 201 Oak Grove Road NW, off of Hwy. 22. Memorial gifts in lieu of flowers can be made to the Goodfellow Historical Foundation for QB's, 4130 Mennes Ave. Hangar 39, Riverside, CA 92509-6707 or the Salem Heart Center, 665 Winter St, Suite B0350 1st Fl, Salem, OR 97301.
Published in StatesmanJournal on Sept. 8, 2013
410 Monmouth St Independence, OR 97351