Col. John Kelly Giles passed away July 29, 2019, in Marietta, Georgia, following a long, brave, struggle with Parkinson's disease. He will be laid to rest at Edom Cemetery in Edom, TX on November 11th, 2019, the date that would have marked his eighty-eighth birthday.
Mr. Giles was born on November 11th, 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.
Mr. Giles 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 twenty-nine years in many roles, including those of meteorologist, pilot, and diplomat. His military career took him all over the world, and he 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. Defence Attache; 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 nineteen Oak Leaf Clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, and AF Longevity Service Ribbon with seven Oak Leaf Clusters.
Col. Giles retired 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, Georgia, where he gave up his nomadic existence and settled for the remaining thirty-four years of his life.
Upon his retirement from Lockheed in 1996, John threw himself into a life of community service. He was especially involved in his Marietta chapter of Kiwanis where he volunteered as a tutor to many children and founded the Silver Pen writing competition for young people.
Mr. Giles 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 August 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 PM on Monday November 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 Lieu of Flowers.