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Jonathan Lancaster

Jonathan Lancaster Born April 6, 1917 in Havana, Cuba to Methodist missionaries James Preston and Elsie Mary (Whipple) Lancaster, Jonathan Lancaster died peacefully October 15, 2009, surrounded by family and love. As a "PK", Jonathan lived in numerous small towns in Mexico, west Texas, and eastern New Mexico, where he stayed long enough to be named the state viola champion. After graduating from Van Horn (TX) High School in 1934, and the Texas College of Mines (now UTEP) in 1939, Jonathan worked in a Houston settlement home for a year before enlisting in the Army Air Corps in 1941, finishing basic flight school December 6, 1941. As a WWII bomber pilot, he primarily flew anti-submarine patrols before being shipped to the Pacific theater in 1945, where, after he flew just one bombing mission, the Japanese surrendered. Along with his war bride, Judith Pickle, and family, Jonathan returned to school for graduate work in Austin. After earning his master's in music, he taught school for 20 years in Port Neches and Kermit before leaving the teaching profession to sell school supplies, from which he retired in 1981. He and Judith returned to Austin in 1982, where they were active members of First Methodist, frequent volunteers for not-for-profits like Meals on Wheels and various Democratic candidates (especially Judith's brother, Jake Pickle), and life-long learners through programs like Learning Activities for Mature People (LAMP). In all things theological, philosophical or political, Jonathan was a proud LIBERAL. He was kind, generous, good man with a ready smile and willingness to help anyone. He loved good music, started two regular poker groups, read constantly and was a reasonably good source of crossword puzzle answers. Jonathan was bright and witty and independent to the end, entertaining family and others from his hospital bed during his last two weeks, the only time he wasn't completely independent. The family thanks the medical staffs at Heart Hospital and Seton Medical Center for their compassionate care, as well as his many friends from LAMP and First Methodist for their visits and kind words. He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Judith Lancaster; and sister, Mary Jo Bennett of Colorado Springs, CO; as well as daughters, Diantha (Don) Alspaugh of Longmont, CO, and Meredith Lancaster of Austin; and son, David (Julie Kniseley) of Austin. He also has seven grandchildren: Russell (Colleen) Alspaugh of Portland, OR; Clay (Lori Cairns) of Longmont, CO; Sam (Milena) DeJulio of Austin; Elena DeJulio of Olathe, KS; Joe and Xiaoman Lancaster of Austin; and Dan Lancaster of Denver, CO. He also enjoyed his five great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews and their families in Austin and throughout the country. A memorial service will be held at First United Methodist Church, 1201 Lavaca, 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 7. Please join us for a celebration of this wonderful life.
Published in Austin American-Statesman from Oct. 31 to Nov. 6, 2009
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