Bernard Anthony Giannell Jr., 86, of 1328 Catherine Court, died Thursday (April 4, 2013) in Blessing Hospital.
Ben was born Nov. 24, 1926, in Oakland, Calif., a son of Bernard Anthony Giannell and Marie Ann Bianchi Giannell.
Ben served in three branches of the military: the U.S. Army
, U.S. Navy
and U.S. Air Force
. He was inducted into the Army in March 1945 and was discharged two years later. He then spent four years in the Navy in the V-6 Naval Reserve program and took private pilot lessons in his off time, making his first solo flight at the age of 21. In 1949, at the age of 22, Ben entered the Air Force's Aviation Cadet Program, where he learned to fly the T-6, the T-28 and B-25 planes. Commissioned as a second lieutenant, Ben flew the B-25 before additional training on the B-45, which he flew in England alongside the Royal Air Force. He joined the Air Force Reserves in 1952, but was reactivated in 1965 at the beginning of the Vietnam War
. He flew a C-124 transport plane in missions over Japan, Korea and Vietnam. He retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel as a command pilot after a total of 41 1/2 years of active and retired service.
Ben is preceded in death by his first wife, Tina, whom he married in 1951, but who died in 1970. In 1972, Ben married Phyllis Laverne Reel Deters of Quincy, who had seven living children at the time of the marriage. Phyllis and her four youngest children moved to Sacramento, Calif., to create a blended family with Ben and his two children. Phyllis died in 2012. Ben held many jobs over his lifetime after leaving military service, including driving a Greyhound bus and a school bus, running a newspaper route, and working as an escrow officer at a title company. He and Phyllis owned and operated a residential care home until they sold it in 1980.
Ben and Phyllis lived in Sacramento for 32 years where they were active in St. Paul Catholic Church. Ben was a Eucharistic minister and lector; and he and Phyllis ran the religious goods store at the church for many years. In 2004, Ben and Phyllis moved back to Quincy where they attended Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church and donated to a number of local organizations. Ben volunteered at St. Boniface Chapel, Blessed Sacrament Church, Meals on Wheels and donated his time at Blessing Hospital as a shuttle bus driver. He was a Eucharistic minister, a men's escort and receptionist at the visitor's desk. For decades, Ben and Phyllis loved making ceramics and traveling in their recreational vehicle. Ben enjoyed playing and listening to music.
Ben is much loved and missed by his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, in-laws and many friends. Ben was the oldest of three children.
He is survived by his brother and sister-in-law, Al and Marilyn Giannell; his sister, Audrey Noel; his daughter and son-in-law, Cathy and Allen Nix of Wilton, Calif.; his son and daughter-in-law, Steven and Bobbie Giannell of Oceanside, Calif.; his stepdaughters and sons-in-law, Janice and Don Wiemelt of Quincy, Mary and Jim Keck of Spring, Texas, Roberta and Fred Feltes of Honolulu, Hawaii, Susanne and Wells Edwards of Springfield and Barbara Deters and Dan O'Grady of St. Louis. Also surviving are his stepson and daughter-in-law, Richard and Mary Deters of Sacramento, Calif., and stepson Phillip Deters of Springfield. He had 19 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
He is preceded in death by his sister, Audrey Noel.
SERVICES: 9:30 a.m. Monday in the Duker and Haugh Funeral Home with a Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. in Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church conducted by the Rev. Michael Kuse. Interment with military honors conducted by American Legion Post 37 and the Illinois National Guard burial detail will be in Calvary Cemetery.
VISITATION: 3 to 6 p.m. today in the funeral home with a parish prayer service at 5:30 p.m.
MEMORIALS: In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to Quincy Catholic Charities, 620 Maine St. or Madonna House, 405 S. 12th St.
ARRANGEMENTS: Duker and Haugh Funeral Home.