Burton Atwood Stokes, Sr., age 103 and just four weeks shy of 104, peacefully passed away at his home on February 5th, 2023, surrounded by his family. Burt is survived by his daughters Helen, Lusana, and Elaina, as well as 13 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. Burt grew up in Grants Pass, OR, where he completed high school, having enjoyed the sports programs there. After graduation, Burt spent one year in McCloud, CA, then moved to Salinas, CA, where he attended Salinas Junior College and met his future wife, Marjorie. Following graduation, Burt attended one year at San Jose State College.
In 1941, Burt enlisted in the Army and passed the Gulf Coast Training Command for pilots in the Army Air Corp, now known as the U.S. Air Force. Burt graduated from flight school and “got his wings” in 1942 at Lackland Base in San Antonio, married Marjorie, and moved to Chico, CA, where he taught basic flying.
Burt was deployed to the European theater for WWII in 1944 with his graduation class, flying the P-38 Lightning out of Foggia, Italy, as a bomber escort. Burt flew in 31 combat missions or sorties totaling 167 hours over Germany, Austria, Italy, and Yugoslavia, and over 4092 total hours in his military career. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service.
After VE (Victory in Europe), Burt was relocated to Dayton, Ohio, where he trained and transitioned to meteorology. In 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Burt was attached to NORAD, the North American Air Defense Command. There he was, the weather forecaster, giving hourly weather reports to the higher command. This information was a factor used to calculate the potential deployment of the U.S. nuclear-armed bomber arsenal, if necessary, to defend our nation.
Burt and his family subsequently lived in Kansas, Illinois, Washington State, Alaska, Colorado, California, Okinawa/Japan, and New Jersey. Lt. Colonel Stokes retired from the Air Force in 1964.
Burt and his family moved to Colorado, where he was a Safety Instructor for United Airlines for 17 years, retiring in 1981.
Burt and Margie moved to the Central Coast after building their home on old family homestead property in rural San Miguel. They were both members of the Santa Lucia Rockhounds for many years due to their shared love and knowledge of geology. Their rock collection is quite extensive, to be sure.
Burton was a kind, loving and generous man who will be incredibly missed by his family and friends. He was an amazing role model for so many, and his legacy will carry on in our hearts for generations to come.
His wife of 54 years, Marjorie, preceded him in passing in 2005.
His son, Burton Jr., preceded him in passing in 2006.
A memorial service for Burton Atwood Stokes will be held at the Kuehl-Nicolay Funeral Home in Paso Robles on Saturday, March 11th, 2023, at 11:00 am for those wishing to pay their respect.