My father-in-law died yesterday afternoon. I have no words, but here is his obituary, written by Jim and his sisters.
Howard Leroy Gurley Jr., born in Baltimore, Maryland, on August 17, 1919, to Howard Gurley Sr. and Florence Marie (née Briscoe), died peacefully at the Hospice of Rockingham County in Wentworth, North Carolina, on April 15th.
He was the loving husband for forty years to Marie Eleanor (née Svec) Gurley (deceased) and father to six children from his first marriage: Howard Richard Gurley (Baltimore), Donald Gurley and wife Alice (Raleigh, NC), MaryJo Davis (Greensboro) and her husband Gary (deceased), Anne Sanner (Lutherville, MD), Patricia Ransone and her husband Larry (Madison, NC), and James Gurley and his wife Neile Graham (Seattle, WA); predeceased by two infant sons; brother to Doris Poist (deceased); grandfather to nine wonderful grandchildren and one great grandson.
Following the 1982 death of his first wife, Howard remarried, to Virginia (Horsey) Gurley in 1990 who was an integral part of his family's life; Howard also became stepfather to Brooks Horsey (deceased).
In 1927 Howard moved with his family to Brooklyn Park in Anne Arundel County, MD, where he graduated from Glen Burnie High School. He spent his summers at "the shore" property owned by relatives at Bodkin Creek, Gibson Island, crabbing and fishing in the Chesapeake Bay.
Drafted shortly before the onset of World War II, Howard served his country as a decorated fighter pilot in action over France, Germany and Austria, flying P-47s and completing 141 missions. One of his missions included D-Day Plus 1. Captain Gurley had the distinction of being the only member of his squadron to take part in both its first and last missions. In recent years he was an active member of the 365th Fighter Squadron veterans group, attending reunions where he kept up close friendships with his former comrades and delighted in sharing his war stories with a younger generation.
Returning from his military services Howard resumed his job with Western Electric in Baltimore, where he had worked as an accounting clerk, and during a forty-two-year career at the company he rose to managerial positions in the internal auditing department. As part of his job Howard relocated with his growing family from Baltimore to Winston-Salem, NC, Wyomissing, PA, Morristown, NJ, Boxford, MA, and, shortly before his retirement in 1981, finally to Greensboro, NC, where he resided until his recent illness.
Always generous and supportive, during his 89 years Howard was a constant inspiration to both his immediate and extended family as well as to his many friends. He died proud of his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchild, by whom he will be dearly missed.
A private family viewing will be held at Colonial Funeral Home in Madison, followed by a graveside memorial at Westminster Gardens in Greensboro. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Tennessee Museum of Aviation in Sevierville, TN, and to Combat Airmen Joshuas Troops, c/o Pat Ransone, 647 Dan Valley Rd, Madison, NC, 27025.
The family would like to express heart-felt appreciation to our friends in our time of need, and to thank the staff of Hospice of Rockingham County for their devotion and caring.