Mr. John Lewis Childress of Hillsboro, Oregon died Monday, November 28th in Seattle, Washington after a long battle with congestive heart failure. His two living children, John A. Childress of Renton, WA and Kelly E. Childress of Oakland, CA were with him in the last days and hours of his life, and at his side as he passed. His other son, Michael L. Childress of Laguna Beach, CA preceded him in death in 1993. He also has three granddaughters, Taylor, Haley and Michaela Childress, and his loving daughter-in-law Shelley, all of Renton, WA.
John was the son of Herbert A. Childress and Myrtle Williams Childress, both of LaFollette until their deaths in 1934 and 1990. He had three siblings, Mildred C. Reynolds, Mable Rouse and Herbert A. Childress from LaFollette. Mable and Herbert preceded him in death last year.
John was born in a small house in LaFollette, Tennessee on March 29th, 1924. He attended school here and was active in the community as a young man, graduating from LaFollette High School in 1942. He immediately enlisted in the Navy and went to Pensacola, Florida for pilot training. John became a dive bomber pilot and was eventually deployed to the South Pacific aboard the carrier USS Randolph. He participated in many bombing raids on Japanese targets in the Pacific, including direct bombing of Tokyo in 1945. He earned many medals for bravery and valor, including the Distinguished Flying Cross. He retired in 1967 as a Commander.
After WWII John returned to civilian life and worked as a trophy salesman for Dodge Trophies in California. He met Mary Dahlgren in 1952 in Seattle. They married in 1954 and settled in Portland, Oregon. John opened Trophies Unlimited, a trophy and awards store, in Portland in November of 1960. He operated the business for over 50 years until his declining health forced its closure in July of 2011.
John and Mary were divorced in 1972, but continued to work together to raise their three children. John was a proud father and spent significant time and effort to maintain his relationship with his children over the years. He was also a pilot and flew his own plane to many locations in the U.S., frequently arranging to take his then grown children along. He was also active in annual Navy squadron reunions after retiring from flying in the Naval Reserve in 1984.
John was a proud son of LaFollette and returned here annually through most of his adult life to be reacquainted with friends and spend time with his beloved mother, sisters, brother and their many children and grandchildren. He made a happy and productive life on the West coast, but was never happier than when he was with his Tennessee family. John’s children have returned with him to LaFollette for his funeral services and burial. Funeral services Saturday, December 3, 2011, 11:00 A.M. at Walters Chapel with graveside services and interment to follow at Woodlawn Cemetery with full military honors conducted by Campbell County Honor Guard. The family will receive friends from 10 to 11 A.M. before services at Walters Funeral Home. Online condolences for Mr. Childress may be made at www.waltersfuneralhome.net. Walters Funeral Home of LaFollette is honored to be serving the family of Mr. John Lewis Childress.