Albert John Eells, Lt. Col USAF Retired, took his last flight on Aug 4, 2020. Al was born June 14, 1930 in Philadelphia, PA to Samuel and Elizabeth Eells, the fourth of five children. Orphaned at the age of 4, Al and his youngest sister Louise spent a number of years in foster care, before being taken in by his maternal Aunt Edna and Uncle Albert Marion. They lovingly raised Al and Louise as their own. After high school graduation, Al enlisted in the Air Force in 1948 serving as a Control Tower Operator during the Korean War and later serving as a Navigator. As he liked to say, watching the pilots casually trotting out to the aircraft each day while he lugged bags and bags of navigational material made him realize there was a better way to fly!
Al began his pilot training in June 1954, and over the course of the next two decades would travel across the world flying a variety of aircraft, including the T-6 Texan, T28, and T-33 (during flight schools), and then jet aircraft including the F86 SabreJet, F100 , and F104 Starfighter. Tour assignments included Laughlin AFB in Del Rio, George AFB in California, Wheelus AFB in Tripoli, Libya, and Ramstein AFB in Germany, among many others. Altogether Al amassed a total of 4,702 hours in flight time and helped to train many other pilots in several different countries. He received many awards and recognitions, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal with Three Oak Clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal, and one he was particularly proud of, the Paratroopers Wings.
In October 1953 he met a beautiful young California girl while stationed at Stead AFB in Reno, NV, and fell completely in love. Al and Vicki were married on May 22, 1954, raising four children through those many tours of duty. The challenges of his early life made him uniquely aware of what family meant, and even when away from home he made sure to maintain a presence (even sending cassette tapes each week from Vietnam in which he talked to each child individually!)
In 1976 the family retired from active duty, and settled in Austin. Mom and Dad enjoyed their years golfing together at Lost Creek Country Club, watching the kids (and later grandkids) play in the pool, and traveling the country. Dad went back to school and graduated in May 1978 with a Bachelor of Business Administration Summa Cum Laude from St. Edwards University. Dad was such a strong proponent of education he not only made sure his four children went to college, he continued his own education by earning a Master of Public Affairs at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. Upon graduation he worked for the Texas Department of Transportation, retiring as Director of the Legislative Information Section in March 1992. Mom and Dad continued to travel across the country until her health required specialized care. Dad visited every day to help with meals, getting settled for naps, and putting her to bed. He made sure she had her lipstick on and hair combed because he knew how important this was to her! Dad became such a fixture at the nursing home he was given the unofficial duties of caring for the lobby fish tank and leading a men’s history discussion group once a week for the residents. Dad continued to enjoy golfing with his Grey Rock Golf Club buddies.
Last year Dad’s health required that he move into Brookdale Gaines Ranch. Dad, as always, quickly found his path at Brookdale, attending social activities, Veteran’s group sessions and of course the weekly happy hours. He was the keynote speaker at the Veteran’s Day service last year. We are indebted to the staff at Brookdale Gaines Ranch for their constant care and attention to Dad. We also wish to thank the compassionate nurses and doctors at Dell Seton Medical Center for the care in his last few hours.
Al is preceded in death by his parents Samuel and Elizabeth, brother Samuel, and sisters Marion, Betty, and Louise. He is also preceded by his loving and beautiful wife of fifty-seven years, Vicki. Al is survived by sons Stephen (Karen), Mark (Ruth), Al (Teresa), and daughter Suzanne (Jeff); his loving and greatly loved grandchildren Josh (Annabel), Christopher, Emily (Eric), Jon and Sam, and great-granddaughter Rosemary. Al is also survived by his extended family he affectionately called the Philadelphia and Florida Ells’. Dad was always a true gentleman, full of funny stories, and loved deeply by his family.
Al will be interred at a later date with full military honors at Fort Sam National Cemetery, reunited with Mom. The family will have a Celebration of his life at an appropriate time. Those who wish may make a contribution in Al and Vicki’s names to the Alzheimer’s Association at alz.org.
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