Franklin Memorial in Bremerton Washington

I have lived in Bremerton WA for the past 20 years. The last couple of years I have dedicated my off time preserving and refurbishing Historical Markers, memorials and their surrounding buildings and grounds.

To date, we have preserved Memorial plaques on the Bremerton Boardwalk in honor of the PSNS 100th Birthday, The Guns and anchor from the USS Bremerton, a flag raising and Plaques to honor the first telephone exchange in Bremeton, that was originally installed in 1982 in honor of the building from 1910.

Our next project was to honor the USS Franklin. Your Memorial Plaques are located on the side of the utility building at the entrance to our Boardwalk. It was a drab white building, without any reference to the Memorial on the side of it. I researched your plaques and found out that members from your ship had placed the plaques in the city, before the Boardwalk was even built. City officials said that they were planning on moving them to a different location. I approached the city that I had access to volunteers and equipment and would like to change the color of the building to Haze Grey and Deck grey in honor of your ship and to make it appear that it is a aircraft carrier superstructure. After 4 meetings with various Departments in the city approval was granted and 65 volunteers from the USS Ronald Reagan and NAVHOSP Bremerton joined me as we painted the building to go with your ships plaques. All paint was donated by the local Lowe’s Hardware.

We have just about completed the painting over the last 2 weekends and fell it is now a more fitting memorial to your ship. We will be painting the Hull Number of your ship on the side of it in the near future to complete the makeover.

If you come to Bremerton, a proud Navy city, please stop by your Memorial plaques that are now in a place of Honor as an Entrance to our Boardwalk. I have attached a few photos to be attached to this story.

Marion T. (Mick) Hersey
Historical Marker Preservationist

Obituary, James Preston Wheeler, Jr

James Preston Wheeler, Jr
Born in Wilmington, NC on Jan. 6, 1923
Departed on Oct. 27, 2011 and resided in Longwood, FL.
Service: Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011
Cemetery: Sealawn Memorial Park

James Preston, known affectionately as “J.P.”, 88, loved Husband, Father and grandfather, went Home to be with his Lord on Thursday, October 27, 2011.  He was born the only son and youngest child of James and Bertha Wheeler on January 6, 1923, in Wilmington, North Carolina. As a young man he worked side by side with his father after school and on weekends in the construction business, helping to build Wilmington and its Port prior to WWII. When he was old enough he enlisted in the armed services, serving a tour in the Army and two tours in the Navy. During his enlistment with the Navy, he served on “Big Ben”, christened the USS Franklin, CV-13, one of the Navy’s 24 Essex Class aircraft carriers. J.P. was on board during both serious bombings of Big Ben, and it is said that he and the remainder of the crew that survived were alive due to sheer valor and tenacity. After WWII J.P. was employed as a crosscountry truck driver, moving families from the East Coast to the West Coast and back. When he retired, J.P. returned to his beloved North Carolina where he was able to fish for spots, net shrimp, eat oysters and work on his boat to his heart’s content. In 2005 he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and in 2006 he moved to the Central Florida area to be closer to his children. J.P. was never at a loss for words, and could look you in the eye whenever he had something to say. He was strong, both physically and emotionally, honest and trustworthy. J.P. was one of those people that if he gave you his word, you could “take it to the bank”. He was preceded in death by his Wife, Mildred Eaton Wheeler. J.P. is survived by his Children: James P. Wheeler, III, Fayetteville, Georgia; James Reid Wheeler, Zellwood, Florida; and Sterling Wheeler Dixon, Orlando, Florida, and by his Grandchildren: J. Preston Wheeler, IV, Fayetteville, Georgia; Kristen Karen Moore, Charlotte, North Carolina; Madison Noel Wheeler, Zellwood, Florida, and Rachel Elizabeth Wheeler, Clermont, Florida. A Celebration of J.P.’s life will be held at the Hampstead Baptist Church, Hampstead, North Carolina, at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, November 2, 2011, followed by interment at Sea Lawn Memorial Park, Hampstead, North Carolina. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made to your local Hospice. Please view and sign the guestbook at Andrews Hampstead Chapel.
This Memorial Obituary provided by Andrews Hampstead Chapel

Obituary, Chester R. Wood

Chester R. Wood, 82, died at 5:50 p.m. Saturday, May 12, 2007, at Saint Anthony’s Health Center in Alton.
He was born April 10, 1925, in Alton to the late Roy and Blanche Elizabeth (Woods) Wood.
He married the former Peggy L. Lowe in Alton on Nov. 28, 1946, and she survives.
He served in the U.S. Navy in World War II on the U.S.S. Franklin. He was a member of Calvary Baptist Church in Alton, where he was a Deacon Amerites. He retired in 1987 after 41 years of service as a security guard at McDonnell-Douglas in St. Louis. He was a volunteer for many years at Saint Anthony’s Health Center, delivering meals to homebound patients.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by a daughter and son-in-law, Linda S. and the Rev. Michael Morgan of Brighton; a son and daughter-in-law, Kevin P. and Cindy Wood of Glen Carbon; four grandchildren and two spouses, Susan and Josh Plymale, Steve and Tressa Morgan, Chelsey Quick and Ethan Wood; three brothers, Paul Wood of Ottawa Lake, Mich., Robert Wood of Riverside, Calif., and James Wood of Alton; and three sisters, Faye Wood of Alton, Della Wenner of Godfrey and Ella Darr of Jerseyville.
Besides his parents, he was preceded in death by two brothers, Tom and Glen Wood; and six sisters, Blanche, Jane, Glenda and Mary Alice Wood, Jenny Winters and Fern Weiss.
Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Gent Funeral Home in Alton.
Services will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Calvary Baptist Church in Alton, with the Revs. Andre Dobson and Michael Morgan officiating.
Burial will be at Valhalla Memorial Park in Godfrey with full military honors by VFW Post 1308 of Alton.
Memorials may be made to the Calvary Baptist Church Homebound Ministry.
Additional information and an online guestbook may be found at

Obituary, Billy Gene Wood

1925 – 2005

Billy Gene Wood, 79, a Fort Worth orthodontist, passed away Saturday, March 5, 2005, after a long bout with cancer.
Funeral: 2 p.m. Thursday at All Saints Episcopal Church. Burial: Greenwood Memorial Park. Visitation: 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Greenwood Funeral Home.

Memorials: in lieu of flowers, the Salvation Army, 1855 E. Lancaster Ave., Fort Worth, Texas 76103.

Dr. Billy Gene Wood was a graduate of Baylor University and Baylor College of Dentistry and earned his M.S.D. in orthodontics from Northwestern University in Chicago.

A veteran of World War II, Dr. Wood was commissioned a Navy ensign and fighter pilot at age 17. He served on the USS Wasp, USS Lexington and the USS Franklin. He was a graduate of the Air War College and National War College. He was awarded the General Jimmy Doolittle Fellow along with the Navy Cross, the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. He flew F6F-3 Hellcats and he saw action in the Battle of Leyte Gulf invasion of the Philippines and Tarawa. He served as an orthodontic consultant at Carswell Air Force Base for 34 years.

During his life he received many honors including the Distinguished Alumnus by Baylor Dental Alumni Association. He served as secretary of the Baylor College of Dentistry Century Club, past president of the Fort Worth District Dental Society and past chairman of the Westside Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. He founded the Fort Worth Civic Leaders Association in 1976 and instituted the first Fort Worth Military Ball in 1979. He received the Department of Defense Exceptional Service Award presented by Secretary of Defense Weinberger and won Fort Worth District Dental Society’s Veteran Honor Award.

Dr. Wood had been a Sunday school teacher, chairman of the Weatherford Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Parker County Sheriff’s Posse, past president of Weatherford Noon Lions Club, founder and president of the Chisholm Trail Days and chairman of the Weatherford Peach Festival.

Dr. Wood was a fellow in the American College of Dentists and also a fellow in the International College of Dentists. He was a member of the American Association of Orthodontics, Texas Dental Association, Fort Worth District Dental Society, Texas Tweed Society, the Southwestern Society of Orthodontics, the Texas Association of Orthodontics and the Tarrant County Society of Orthodontists.

Survivors: Wife of 49 years, Carol Hall Wood; son, William Millard Wood; daughter, Susan Wood Torpy and husband, Art Torpy; son, Steven Charles Wood and wife, Stacey McKay Wood; and grandchildren, Wil and Abby Torpy and Reilly, Zöe and Amy Wood.
Published in the Star-Telegram from 3/8/2005 – 3/9/2005.

Obituary, Charles VanMeter Wesley

Wesley, Charles VanMeter
posted May 8, 2006
Charles VanMeter Wesley died on Saturday, May 6, 2006, in a local nursing home.

Charles was born atop Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga on Sept. 20, 1913. He was preceded 15 minutes earlier by his twin brother, the late John Henry Wesley.

Charles was the son of the late Henry Willis Wesley and Blanche Van-Meter. While growing up in the Chattanooga area, Charles was very active in sports. He held both the city boxing and badminton championships.

He attended Western Kentucky State Teachers college. Then the Navy came calling. Charles was stationed at Pensacola NAS teaching flying when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. He stayed on in Pensacola as a flight instructor to both British and American pilots. In 1942, he became part of a new fighter squadron, VF-11 J headed for the Pacific.

While en route from San Diego, the squadron got word that their ship, the USS Wasp, had been hit by three Japanese torpedoes and had to be scuttled. They were diverted to Pearl Harbor then to the Fiji Islands. While on Maui, the squadron, named themselves the “Sundowners” and designed the squadron’s insignia. In April of 1943, they found themselves land-based on Guadalcanal and sharing a runway with a squadron of Marines. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his conduct as a Navy fighter pilot in the Solomon Islands area during June-July 1943. After 12 weeks of combat, the Navy rotated several of the experienced fighter pilots back to the states to Fighter Director School. Charles spent the rest of the war as a fighter director on the USS Enterprise, USS Franklin and the USS Ranger.

In 1947, he met his future wife, Sara Frances Colvin, on a blind date. They were married in 1948. In 1949 he resigned his Navy commission and went back to school, this time at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Charles found himself back on active duty when the Korean War broke out, this time in the Air Force. He stayed in the Air Force until his retirement in 1969.

Charles and Sally joined St. Andrews Bay Yacht Club in 1969, the same year that the “Flying Scot” replaced the “Fish Class” as the club boat. He had been active in sailing most of his life, beginning when he and his brother, John, built their first Snipe in their mother’s basement. He was introduced to the “Fish Class” while he was stationed in Pensacola before the war. Charles was very active in the yacht club, spending several years as the fleet captain. He also served on the race committee, as a USYRU judge at various local and national events and on the GYA appeals committee. Charles and Sally were members of several Bridge Clubs in the local area. Charles continued to play duplicate at the Panama City Bridge Club until 2004.

Charles is survived by his wife, Sara Frances Colvin Wesley; children, Barbara Harrell Wesley, of Panama City, Charles Van Meter Wesley Jr., of Arizona, Richard Colvin and Kay Ellen Wesley, of Panama City; grandchildren, Donna Christine Exum, her husband, Lee Exum, and Richard Colvin Wesley Jr., all of Panama City; and greatgrandchildren, Sara Nicole Martin, Wyatt Lee Exum and Madison Leigh Exum, of Panama City, and Richard Nicholas Wesley, of Louisiana. He also is survived by several nieces and nephews in California, Texas and Chattanooga.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m., Wednesday, at Kent-Forest Lawn Funeral Home with the Rev. Tully Hunter officiating. Interment will follow at Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens with full military honors.

The family will receive friends from 6-8 p.m. at the funeral home on Tuesday. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Jim and Flo Nixon Respite Center, Council on Aging, in Panama City, FL.

Arrangements are by Kent-Forest Lawn Funeral Home, 2403 Harrison Ave., Panama City, FL 32405.

Obituary, Kenneth Westby

Kenneth Westby was killed in action aboard the USS Franklin in the South Pacific. He was buried at sea, his name is also noted on the Punchbowl Cemetery Halls of Honor on the island of Oahu. This marker is in the Dawson cemetery next to his parents and the Westby family stone.
Kenneth was a radio technician and worked with the radar system which had been installed on the USS Franklin.

Obituary, Roy A. Weslager

Roy A. Weslager / Beloved pianist for Kane patients
July 19, 1926 – Jan. 6, 2007
Thursday, January 11, 2007

By Linda Wilson Fuoco, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

When childhood health problems kept him out of school for long periods of time, Roy A. Weslager taught himself to play the piano. That skill would bring joy to many, especially after 1983, when he retired from the LTV steel plant and began making weekly visits to play for patients at the Kane Regional Center in Scott.

He played almost up to the day he died at the center — Saturday. Mr. Weslager, 80, had been a patient there for two months. He was being treated for complications following surgery in October.

“My father never did learn to read music, but if you sang him a song, he could play it,” said his daughter, Nancy Hale of Castle Shannon.

Mr. Weslager played at Kane on Thursdays for more than 20 years, very seldom missing a day. “Everybody loved him — patients and staff. The women would fight over who would sit next to him,” said Sally Finley of Bethel Park, who sings and dances with a group called The Kane Entertainers. Mr. Weslager was their accompanist.

Mr. Weslager grew up in Mount Washington. He and his wife of 57 years, Elizabeth, raised their children in Castle Shannon and moved to Bethel Park when he retired.

Mr. Weslager provided the piano playing and more for The Kane Entertainers.

“He played the old songs like ‘Let Me Call You Sweetheart,’ ” Ms. Finley said. “We also did the Hokey Pokey and polkas. He would drive anyone who needed a ride to Kane, including me. We will miss him so and we will miss his piano playing.”

Rita Morreale, who works with volunteers at Kane and schedules their visits, described Mr. Weslager as “a unique individual and a true gentleman who forgot his own ills to bring joy to the patients.”

Mr. Weslager served in World War II in the Navy aboard the USS Franklin. He was one of the founding members of Baldwin United Presbyterian Church and participated in the church’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2005.

Survivors, in addition to his daughter and wife, include another daughter, Susan Huemrich of Castle Shannon; his twin brother, Robert, of Belle Vernon; two grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

A memorial service was held yesterday.