Col. John Kelly Giles passed away July 29, 2019, in Marietta, Ga., following a long, brave struggle with Parkinson’s disease.
He will be laid to rest at Edom Cemetery in Edom on Nov. 11, 2019, the date that would have marked his 88th birthday.
He was born on Nov. 11, 1931, to William David “Dee” Giles and Lois Lavada Saylors Giles. He grew up in Edom and was a 1948 graduate of Van High School before continuing his studies at Tyler Junior College, East Texas State Teacher’s College (now Texas A&M University--Commerce), and the University of California, Los Angeles.
He pitched in both college and minor league baseball and remained passionate about the sport throughout his life. He was also an avid golfer and racquetball player.
In 1952, he married Jackie Myrlene Crawford and accepted a direct commission in the United States Air Force, where he served for 29 years in many roles, including those of meteorologist, pilot, and diplomat. His military career took him all over the world and during this time, he and his family never lived in the same city for more than two years at a time.
Their temporary homes included Waco, Texas; Los Angeles, California; Okinawa, Japan; Tampa, Florida; Washington, D.C; several cities in Brazil, where he served as U.S. Defense Attaché; and Aurora, Colorado, where he served as base commander at Lowry Air Force Base.
For his combat service during the Vietnam War, Col. Giles was awarded the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with 19 Oak Leaf Clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, and AF Longevity Service Ribbon with seven Oak Leaf Clusters.
He moved from military service in 1981 to embark on a private sector career as Safety and Environmental Director for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.
In 1985, he relocated to Marietta, Ga. where he gave up his nomadic existence and settled for the remaining 34 years of his life.
Upon his retirement from Lockheed in 1996, he threw himself into a life of community service. He was especially involved in the Marietta chapter of Kiwanis where he volunteered as a tutor to many children and founded the Silver Pen writing competition for young people.
He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Jackie Myrlene Giles of Marietta, Ga.; daughters Joni Tunnell (and husband Frosty) of Dallas, and Jill Giles of San Antonio; brother Bill Giles (and wife Judy) of Van; grandchildren, Wesley Tunnell (and wife Ellen) and Lauren Tunnell Verdeyen (and husband Kris); and great-grandchildren Milo and Oscar Verdeyen.
A funeral service was held on Aug. 2, 2019, at Due West United Methodist Church in Marietta, Ga. Arrangements were handled by Carmichael Funeral Home in Marietta.
Graveside service for his interment will be held at 12:30 p.m. on Monday Nov. 11, 2019, at Edom Cemetery, with the Rev. Jason Huffman officiating.
Contributions to the Parkinson’s Foundation (www.Parkinson.org) or the Memorial Tree Program at Honoring a Life (https://honoringalife.org) can be made in l ieu of flowers.