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Jack P. (Colonel U.S. Army Retired) Ancker

1921 - 2019
Jack P. (Colonel U.S. Army Retired) Ancker Obituary
Jack P. Ancker (Colonel U.S. Army Retired)

Las Cruces - Jack P. Ancker died on October 3, 2019 at the age of 98 in Las Cruces, where he lived for the past 47 years.

Jack was born on June 1, 1921 in Cedar Falls, Iowa, to Clinton Ancker, an Army officer, and Fern Ancker (née LaLan), a school teacher. As a young boy, he moved around the country and the world, as his father was transferred from one assignment to another by the U.S. Army. It was a way of life that would continue for Jack throughout his own career, until he and Casey and their family moved to Las Cruces in 1972.

While Jack was in elementary school, he had his first experience outside the U.S. when his father was twice stationed at Fort McKinley in the Philippines. Decades later, Jack told many stories of those formative years of living in a tar paper shack, riding mules, and eating mangos!

He attended Purdue University, earning a degree in mechanical engineering and a letter on the varsity swimming team. His true interest, however, was always and only becoming a soldier. In December 1942, he and his ROTC classmates were graduated a semester early so they could receive their Army commissions and join the war effort as young second lieutenants.

His first assignment, and one that would remain definitive for him as a soldier and a human being, was joining the 680th Glider Field Artillery Battalion of the 17th Airborne Division, and participating in the European Theater of World War II. The 680th made a nighttime assault by gliders across the Rhine River in Germany on March 24, 1945 and faced "the heaviest concentration of antiaircraft fire yet experienced in an airborne operation" according to the Distinguished Unit Citation they later received.

When Jack was stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, his sister Betsy introduced him to Frances "Casey" Jones. After only four dates, Jack and Casey were married on May 28, 1950. Their first home together was at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Jack was lucky, because Casey, born and raised in rural southern Indiana, quickly adapted to life in the military. During his Army career, the Ancker family lived in Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Kentucky, Kansas, California, Virginia, Ohio, Germany, Arizona, New Jersey and New Mexico. In between, Jack also served in Korea in 1959-60 and Vietnam in 1971-72.

His final Army assignment was as Professor of Military Science at the Army ROTC Department at New Mexico State University. After his retirement from the Army, Jack taught for ten years in the Management Department in the NMSU College of Business as an adjunct professor. He remained active in the community, serving on the Vestry of St Andrew's and St James churches, the Board of American Red Cross, and in other organizations in Las Cruces.

Jack is survived by his daughter Mary and her husband Mike Murphy of Las Cruces; son John and his wife Beth Newstat of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania; son Bill of Albuquerque; grandson Phil Sakala, his wife Michelle and their daughter Kennedy of Fort Bragg, North Carolina; and grandson John Sakala of Morehead, Kentucky. His wife of 68 years, Casey, passed on August 23, 2018.

A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, October 26 at 11:00 am at St James Episcopal Church in Mesilla Park. In lieu of flowers, his family requests that donations be made to Gospel Rescue Mission or another local organization that serves those in need in our community.

Arrangements by Getz Funeral Home, corner of Solano and Bowman Ave. To sign our local online guestbook, please log onto
Published in Las Cruces Sun-News from Oct. 18 to Oct. 20, 2019
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