More detail on this person: Colonel Langley Jerry Chavis Colonel Langley Jerry Chavis, war hero and entrepreneur, died Monday, July 11, 2011, of neuro-endocrine cancer. He was 80 years old. Col. Chavis was born the second of three sons to Langley T. and Arlin Johnson Chavis in George, North Carolina, and raised on a farm in Rocky Mount, NC. His father was an illiterate sharecropper. With a lifelong knack for turning a humble start into an admirable accomplishment, the younger Langley Chavis went on to a distinguished 30-year career in the US Army. He earned a Masters in Business Administration from Boston University, became a Certified Public Accountant, and eventually became a successful entrepreneur, owning and operating what was at one time the largest black-owned business in the state of Oklahoma. Chavis, a veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars, enlisted in the Army shortly after finishing high school. Later, after an encouraging "order" from a mentor, Chavis applied for and was accepted into Officer Candidate School in 1958, at a time when few African-Americans were accepted or allowed to graduate. He later went to flight school and was one of two African Americans to graduate in his class--a rare accomplishment, as the practice of that time was to allow only one African American to graduate in any class. During his military career he earned The Bronze Star Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross Medal, the Air Medal, several Purple Hearts, and a number of other medals and awards. He also earned the respect and admiration of his colleagues and commanders. One of his proudest moments of his military career is when General Douglas MacArthur paid a rare visit to his all-black unit in Korea and was so impressed, the General awarded them the Distinctive Unit Citation. Army buddies called Chavis "Tiger" for his bravery as a helicopter pilot: He was often called to evacuate US troops under heavy fire in war. He received one of several Purple Hearts after he was shot in such an incident. In another, his helicopter was shot 37 times, and he still was able to fly his passengers to safety without any loss of life. Chavis retired from the Army in 1982 and moved to Oklahoma to work as an accountant at Kerr-McGee. He was laid off in 1986, something he later called "one of the best things that ever happened to me." He started Southway Services, a government contracting business, in the family dining room. The company grew to employ over 300 people in 7 states. As a businessman, Chavis was devoted to fairness to his employees-he earned several awards from organizations such as the U.S. Small Business Association, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Chambers of Commerce. Southway Services remained in business for over 20 years, until Chavis closed the business and retired in 2009 at the age of 78. Col. Chavis is loved and survived by his wife of 48 years, Rose Merle Williams Chavis; his three daughters, Shaun Alissa, Tara Rose, and Kris Lanelle Chavis; one granddaughter, Shayla Rose Chavis-Smith, "son" and long-time family friend Samuel D. Brooks, as well as five nieces, two nephews, and many other family members and friends. A Memorial Service will be held 10:00a.m., Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at Hahn-Cook/Street & Draper, 6600 Broadway Extension in Oklahoma City. For those who cannot attend, his daughters have created an "In Memory of Langley J. Chavis" photographic memorial page on Facebook. Col. Chavis's remains will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
Burial information: Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA
This information was last updated 08/23/2017
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Date posted on this site: 04/14/2021
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