GREGORY, John L., 85 of Tampa, FL, a much loved member of the greatest generation, departed this life on May 1, 2013, after a long battle with cancer. Born in Lynchburg, VA he left school early to enlist in the Navy in World War II. John joined the crew of the USS California at Espirito Santo in the Philippines. John remained with the California throughout the war as the ship played a key role in the Battle of Leyte Gulf; the Battle of Surigoa Gulf where the Japanese fleet was destroyed; the Luzon landings; and in Lingayen Gulf where the California was hit by a Kamikaze killing 44 and wounding 155 members of the crew. After repairs, the California fought at Okinawa and later returned to Philadelphia where John was discharged. After a few months at home in Lynchburg, John joined the Air Force and served at Hickham Airbase in Honolulu and on Johnson Island. While stationed in Kansas City, John attended flight engineering school, thereafter maintaining fighter airplanes and serving in Hamburg Germany, Alaska and MacDill AFB. While stationed at MacDill John met and married Ruth Eleanor Drake Poe in 1964. He retired as Sargeant from MacDill on June 1, 1969 after serving his country for nearly a quarter of a century. After retiring from the military, John started and ran A-1 Pest Control until he retired again in 1991 when he gave the business to his son, Brian. John was predeceased by his wife Ruth, his mother Iva Gregory and his brothers Frank and Lloyd. He is survived by his sons Ralph (Joan) Poe, Alan (Trish) Poe, and Brian (Bethel) Poe all of Tampa, FL; six grandchildren, Shawn Francisco, Troy Poe, Jay (Amy) Parker, Jason Parker, Wendy (Fred) Miller, all of Tampa, and Kim (John) Holland of Kernersville, NC; nine great grandchildren; sister V. Jean Gregory (Richard Wilbur); and two nieces, Gayle Gregory (Stacy) Clark of Lynchburg, and Tami Gregory (Ken) LeoGrande of Murrells Inlet, SC. He was a proud and kind man and will be missed by his family and all that knew him. A memorial service will be held in Tampa at a time to be determined and interment will be in Lynchburg, VA. The family requests that contributions be made to Moffitt Cancer Center in lieu of flowers.
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Published in TBO.com on May 8, 2013