John Garrett Felton Jr. died of complications from a stroke Sept. 19, 2003, surrounded by loved ones in his Davis home. He was 90.
He was born March 6, 1913, in Gloversville, N.Y. For a time his family lived in Charleston, S.C., but most of his childhood was spent in La Crosse, Wis. He had fond memories of climbing the bluffs there and of taking long weekend drives in the family’s touring car.
As a boy, he was active in the YMCA and Boy Scouts. On his way to earning the rank of Eagle Scout, he became adept at semaphore and Morse code, skills that would serve him later in the U.S. Navy.
He studied electrical engineering at the University of Minnesota and later received a master’s degree in stage lighting from the University of Iowa. While a student at Iowa, he fell in love with and married Winifred Gross of Yankton, S.D. Later, they both accepted positions at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa.
He joined the Navy after the United States entered World War II. He became a lieutenant and a communications officer on the staff of several admirals. He served on aircraft carriers in the Pacific Theater, including the USS Wasp and USS Franklin. When the Franklin was hit by a kamikaze, he led crews fighting the fires of aviation fuel and ammunitions. For his bravery and the wounds he suffered, he was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart.
Following the war, he moved his growing family to Colorado and then to Texas, where he began a long career in the industrial lighting division of the Sylvania Electric Co. He was active in his community, his church, the Masons and Shrine.
Felton and his wife, who met while studying theater arts, often attended concerts and the theater. He enjoyed classical music and opera and, until his tenor faded with age, he often sang in church choirs and men’s clubs. He also liked to travel, and he and his wife enjoyed many cruises and trips to Europe.
Shortly after moving to Davis, in 1979, his wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He spent the next 17 years caring for her. After her death, he continued traveling and attending his church. In his final years he enjoyed taking drives in the country, tending his rose garden, going to soccer games and spending time with family and friends. He prided himself on his independence and remained in his home until the end of his life.
He was preceded in death by his mother Myrtle and father John Sr., brother Sib, sisters Ginny and Edie, his wife Win and his son, Gary.
He is survived by daughter, Anne Sivley and her husband Leonard Sivley of Yorba Linda; son, Allen Felton and his wife Connie Melendy of Davis; grandsons, Mark Felton of Sacramento and Harry McCuistion and his wife Shirley McCuistion of Colorado Springs, Colo.; granddaughter, Abbie Felton of Kutztown, Pa.; dear friend and sister-in-law Marion Carlson of Davis; extended family members Sylvia Melendy and Suzanne Melendy of Davis; three great grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews; and many loving friends and neighbors.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Davis Community Church, 412 C St.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to John Felton Memorial Fund, Davis Joint Unified School District (attention: Susie Hedrick), 526 B St., Davis CA 95616. The fund will be used to provide musical instruments to elementary school students in need.
(Obituary from the “The Davis Enterprise,” Wednesday, September 24, 2003.)