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Jack Osborn Rathgeber

1922 - 2011 Obituary Condolences
Jack Osborn Rathgeber passed from this life with dignity and peace, while surrounded by his family, on Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011.
He was born in Alamogordo on April 9, 1922, to Fred O. Rathgeber and Janie Lucy Porter. Jack graduated from Alamogordo High School in the class of 1940 and went into the United States Navy in January 1941. After completion of flight training, he was commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Navy, and then designated as naval aviator and received orders to Squadron VBF-14 (F4U4 Corsair Fighter Bombers) of Carrier Air Group 14, which went aboard the Aircraft Carrier USS Intrepid for duty in the South Pacific. The Intrepid was one of the two carriers that ultimately anchored in Tokyo Bay at the end of World War II. Rathgeber was one of the eight pilots selected to fly over Japan to survey resistance following the World War II atomic attack. Eight Corsairs were catapulted into flight from the anchored Intrepid. Neither Rathgeber nor his fellow aviators had any experience in that launch method. They flew over Japan at 10,000 feet initially and finally down to 1,000 feet over much of Japan. The USS Intrepid is now a museum in New York Harbor in New York City.
Jack went back to the U.S. Navy during the Korean War for two winter deployments, piloting off of the USS Princeton and the USS Boxer.
Following the Korean War, Jack returned to Alamogordo and married Maude Oliver, also an Alamogordo native who then worked as the Alamogordo Elementary and Junior High School music teacher.
Jack worked for the Ryan Aeronautical Company, later Teledyne Ryan, for 30 years as instrumentation engineer, flight engineer, assistant base manager and Teledyne Ryan base manager, first at the Holloman Air Force Base location, followed by base manager at MacGregor Range and White Sands Missile Range in Otero County. His work included flying drone targets (remotely piloted vehicles) for testing a number of missile systems, with tests taking place across the United States, in Panama, over the Gulf of Mexico and in Sardinia, Italy, over the Mediterranean Sea. These systems were the predecessor for the type of unmanned aerial vehicles used in U.S. military operations today. Through the years, Jack remained extremely well-respected by his co-workers for his extensive knowledge and real-life military experience, as well as for his sense of humor and positive attitude.
Jack and Maude built the first Self-Storage Warehouses in Alamogordo in 1972. They owned and managed this business, located in the 1100 block of Washington Avenue, for 30 years.
Jack is a longtime member of the Cuba Avenue Church of Christ. He and Maude raised all four of their children, Jack, Naomi, Mary and Mark, in Alamogordo.
Jack was preceded in death by his father and mother, Fred and Janie Rathgeber; half-brother Fred W. Louder and wife, Beverly; sister and brother-in-law Mamie and Ross Bryan; brothers-in-law GB Jr. and Henry Oliver; nephew Jerry Louder; and a niece, Nancy Gish.
His survivors include his "good and dear wife," Maude Rathgeber, and children Jack II and his wife, Parla, of Alamogordo; daughter Naomi and her husband, Gerald Wheeler, of Alamogordo; daughter Mary and her husband, Eric Lester, of Portland, Ore.; and Mark Rathgeber, formerly of Denver, now living in Alamogordo. Survivors also include nine grandchildren: Dusti and husband, Damian Orchard, Jack Rathgeber III and wife, Amanda, Laloni and husband, Daniel Geary, Carissa Wheeler and fiance, Christopher Cronin, all of Alamogordo; Cheri Kate and husband, Nathan Shields, of Portland, Ore.; James Lester, who recently returned home from Afghanistan, and fiancee Capt. Stephanie Gardiner, from Lacy, Wash.; Jared Lester and his wife, Alyson, of Vancouver, Wash.; Joshua Wheeler and Rachel Fleming, of Tucson, Ariz.; and Justina and husband, Marshall Thompson, of Abilene, Texas.
Jack was proud of his seven great-grandchildren Madison Wheeler; Jordan and Kody Rathgeber; Reid and Claire Geary; and Gryphon and Alice Shields.
Jack also leaves behind many beloved family members, including sisters-in-law Yvonne and Bonnie Oliver; sister and brother-in-law Martha and Danly Sayles; nieces Kathy Ramsey, Faye Hyatt, Audra Nichols, Rebekah Bachman, Sarah Sayles, and Janie Mossman and husband, Fred; nephews Bruce Bryan and G.B. III, Johnny, Hank, Tom Oliver and Barry Louder; and numerous other family members.
Pallbearers will be Jack O. Rathgeber II, Joshua Wheeler, James Lester, Damian Orchard, Daniel Geary, Christopher Cronin, Sam Nichols and Joe Nichols.
Honorary pallbearers will be Johnny Shelton, Danly Sayles, G.B. Oliver III, Johnny Oliver, Eric Lester, Gerald Wheeler, Malcolm Ramsey, Bruce Bryan and Tom Oliver.
The Rathgeber family has entrusted the care of their loved one to Hamilton-O'Dell Funeral Home. Visitation will be 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011, at 1334 Scenic Ave. in Alamogordo. Services will be held Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011, at 2 p.m. in the Cuba Avenue Church of Christ in Alamogordo, followed by graveside services at Monte Vista Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests monetary and/or food donations be made to the food pantry at Cuba Avenue Church of Christ, which assists many area residents twice every week, (Cuba Avenue Church of Christ, P.O. Box 117, Alamogordo, NM 88311, 437-4795, Attn.: Food Pantry).
To sign the online register book, please visit
Published in Alamogordo Daily News from Jan. 4 to Jan. 7, 2011
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