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William H. Gentry

Published: 11/16/2012

William H. Gentry passed on November 14, 2012, to be with his Lord and loved ones who predeceased him. 

Born on January 16, 1918, on a farm in the foothills of East Tennessee, William ("Bill" to many) excelled in his schooling and early learned the virtues and vicissitudes of hard work. 

On a cold day in January 1940, when his plow bucked-back, knocking him down the hill after hitting yet another stone, he walked to his house, packed a bag, said goodbye to his mom, Matilda, and stepfather, Perry, and set out afoot to Newport, Tennessee to join the United States Army Air Corps. 

Because he was good in math, the Army sent him to machinist school.  After learning that trade, he was sent to Boise, Idaho where, in typical Army fashion, he was billeted as a mechanic.  He quickly learned that trade as well and was promoted up the ranks to become a Master Sergeant. 

Stationed in England, he helped keep B17s in the air war over Europe, sometimes flying as a waist gunner.  After victory over Germany, he was honorably discharged and took a job in Oak Ridge, Tennessee where, unknown to him, he worked on the atomic bomb.  

There, he met Rosa Mae Chambers, who was his wife until her death in 1979 and the mother of their two children, William C. (W.C.) Gentry and Cynthia (Cindy) Gentry Shelton. 

After moving to Jacksonville, Florida in late 1945 where he had taken a job at Jacksonville NAS, William and Rosa Mae bought a small home on the GI bill and raised their family.  William moved up the civilian ranks at Jax NAS, retiring as a supervisor, GS-13. 

Following Rosa Mae's death, he met Crissie Yeldell, who had been widowed a few years before.  They married and made many mutual friends, were very active at Wesley Fellowship Methodist Church and enjoyed their life together until her passing in 2010. 

In addition to his son and daughter, he is survived by his daughter-in-law Susan Gentry and son-in-law John Shelton, five grandchildren and ten great- grandchildren. 

Services will be held at Wesley Fellowship Church on Wednesday, November 21, 2012, at 2:00 p.m.  Family and friends may visit at George H. Hewell and Son Funeral Home, 4747 Main Street, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 20, 2012.  Flowers are welcome or, in lieu thereof, the family requests contributions to Wesley Fellowship Methodist Church.



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