Willis Jay Lodge, 91, of Bellevue, passed away Wednesday, July 16, 2014, in the Willows At Bellevue.
He was born May 8, 1923, in Huron County, the son of Charles Benjamin and Flora Alpha (Gardner) Lodge.
Willis spent his childhood in Flat Rock, Ohio. He was a 1943 graduate of Thompson High School, Bellevue.
He was a lifelong railroader, working for Wheeling & Lake Erie, Nickel Plate, Norfolk & Western and Norfolk Southern as they were consolidated over the years.
Willis was a proud U.S. Navy veteran, having served in the Pacific theater as a gunner on a TBM Avenger in VT-34 Torpedo Squadron stationed aboard the USS Monterey, serving from 1943-1945.
Willis was very involved in the community. He was a lifelong member of St. John’s Lutheran Church and was active with St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. He was a member of the Thompson School Alumni Association; past commander of VFW Post 1238 (the facility was built during his term); the Historic Lyme Village Association, where he oversaw the dismantling and rebuilding of the Ann Brown log cabin; and the Experiential Aircraft Association. He was instrumental, along with his wife Mary, in establishing regular reunions of the VT-34 Torpedo Squadron.
He loved history, particularly family history, and woodworking as a service to the many organizations he was involved with. Until recently he took communion weekly to residents at the Willows with laypersons from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. He was at the time of his death planning a fly-in of five TBMs to Erie-Ottawa Airport.
Survivors include his children, Mary (Gerard) Celeste of Parkville, Mo., LeRose Meadows of Bellevue, Susan (fiancé, Dale Andrews) Thomson of Bellevue and Mark (Tess) Lodge of Toledo; grandchildren, Rosemary (Patrick) Hannan of North Kansas City, Mo., Joseph (Crystal) Celeste of Parkville, Anthony (Nicole) Celeste of Coffeyville, Kan., Susan (Daniel) Fansher of Liberty, Mo., Christopher Meadows of Bellevue, Brian Meadows of Phoenix, Ariz., and Jennifer Thomson of Phoenix; great-grandchildren, Brooklyn and Braden Hannan, Creston, Raegan and Carson Celeste, Kaden and Camden Celeste, and Celeste Fansher, Allyson Fansher and Dylan Fansher; many dear friends, particularly surviving members of VT-34 Naval Air Squadron; and his beloved cat, who was his devoted companion in his latter years.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wives, Mary (Koselke) Lodge, whom he married June 17, 1946, and Lenore (Moyer) Lodge, whom he married Aug. 11, 1990, in Bellevue; brothers, Clarence W. Lodge, Charles G. Lodge and half-brother Paul M. Brumbaugh.
Friends will be received 2-7 p.m. Sunday, July 20, at Foos and Foos Funeral Service, 151 Yorkshire Place, Bellevue. The funeral service will be 10 a.m. Monday, July 21, in St. John’s Lutheran Church, 209 Southwest St., Bellevue. Burial will follow at Bellevue Cemetery, where military honors will be observed.
Memorials may be made to The Wounded Soldiers Fund, P.O. Box 8005, Bellevue, OH 44811; Liberty Aviation Museum, 3515 E. State Road, Port Clinton, OH 43452; or Ohio Veterans Home Activity Fund, 3416 Columbus Ave., Sandusky, OH 44870.
Memories and condolences may be shared at foosfuneral.com.