John Gemmell, of Edwards, 1922-2010 |

John Gemmell, of Edwards, 1922-2010

Special to the Daily
Vail, CO Colorado

John Willox Gemmell died of natural causes on Wednesday at 88 years old at his home in Edwards. At his side were his daughter, J.J.; son, Tom; and granddaughter Kaeli.

He was born July 3, 1922, in Detroit to Elizabeth Muir Willox and Alexander Gemmell, who immigrated to the United States from Scotland.

He attended Henry Ford Trade School in Detroit and Oswego State Teachers College in Upstate New York.

John served as a pilot for more than 30 years in the United States Air Force, and obtained the rank of lieutenant colonel. He entered the Army Air Corps in 1942 and flew as an aircraft commander in the B-24 during World War II. He later served in the Strategic Air Command on active duty and in the Air Force Reserves and Air National Guard as a command pilot and mission commander with over 5,000 hours in the B-36 Superfortress and B-52 Stratofortress, including in the Korean and Vietnam wars. His awards and declarations were numerous and included the Air Medal, Aerial Achievement Medal, combat service medals in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, as well as well publicized Air Force Safety Award of the Year for recovering an ailing RB-36 and its crew to a safe landing at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota after a stuck-aileron condition.

After active duty and when serving as in the Air Force Reserves and Air National Guard, he was a highly successful manufactures representative to the automotive industry through his company, John W. Gemmell and Associates.

Before moving to Colorado, John lived with his family in Orchard Lake and Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

He was a top athlete, having played, among others, baseball, basketball and boxing (Golden Gloves champion). Later in life, his main interests and hobbies were golf, running and general physical fitness.

John’s great loves were his family and pets (he brought back 181 homeless dogs from Germany after World War II). He will be remembered as the most giving and loving husband, father, brother and friend. He will be dearly and forever missed.

John is survived by his daughter, J.J., and granddaughter Kaeli, of Edwards, and son Tom and his wife, Jenny, and their children, Katherine and John, of Evanston, Ill., as well and his sister, Jean Barton, and brother Tom and his wife, Betti, of Boca Raton, Fla.; as well as many nieces and nephews and their children.

John is preceded in death by his wife, Peggy, and brother Jim.

A small family service will be held at the home of J.J. Gemmell over the weekend, with interment later at Arlington National Cemetery. Donations in lieu of flowers may be sent to: Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, 345 East Superior St., Chicago, IL 60611; 800-354-7342. The Gemmell family can be reached at 970-390-9840.

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