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
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
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
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
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 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.