More detail on this person: A highly decorated
combat helicopter pilot, erudite friend and
companion, master gardener and loving father made
a perfect three point landing in to the hand of
God last week. John Hersey Fellerhoff, "Jack" or
"Colonel", passed away Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015.
He lived a full and good life, succumbing to
age-related frailties after breaking his leg in a
Jack was born on Aug. 27, 1929 to Tony and Ella (Hersey) Fellerhoff, in Great Falls, Montana. Ella was the daughter of pioneers who moved to Montana in the 1880's. Tony was the son of German immigrants, who traveled the rail to Montana at 14 and became a capable man in many different trades. Jack and his younger brother Bob spent their boyhood in the Stanford area, where their dad would buy old farmsteads and renovate the wooden houses into homes for the young family. The family ranched and did what they could to survive the deep depression and central Montana drought of the 30's.
The family landed in the Gallatin Valley and settled in Jackson Creek. Jack's mother believed they had landed in the Garden of Eden when she saw the green and lush Gallatin Valley for the first time in 1938. The family ranched on Green Mountain, and Jack and brother, Bob, would ride their ponies to attend grammar school classes at the Malmborg School. Life was hard on the Bozeman Hill, so in the winter he would live in town with families and work his room and board off by doing early morning chores for his host families. Milking the family cow and straining the milk for everyone's breakfast cereal was one of his favorite stories.
Jack graduated from Gallatin High School in 1947 and became the first in his family to attend college, enrolling at Montana State College as an Ag Economics and History major. He joined the Montana National Guard and the ROTC program. Upon graduation, he was given the rank of 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army. He reported to Fort Benning, Georgia where his life and career came together. There he was chosen to attend the highly competitive Army flight school, where he excelled and became a distinguished helicopter pilot.
While stationed in Fort Benning, Jack went on a blind date with Miss Betty Harris from Atlanta, Georgia. After two years of dating, mostly long distance, he proposed. He was deployed to Germany and he sent Betty an engagement ring wrapped in a match book with a 10 cent airmail stamp in order to avoid paying duty. They were married on Feb. 4 in a German Civil Ceremony and on Feb. 5, 1956 in Baumholder, Germany. He always said if he missed the first day of his anniversary he had another day to make it right with Betty. They were married for 45 years. Betty was the love of Jack's life, and he deeply grieved her passing from cancer in 2002.
Their first daughter, Gretchen, was born in Baumholder, Germany. Second daughter, Karen, was born several years later in Fort McClellan, Alabama.
His first deployment as a helicopter pilot was to Korea in 1960. He returned after 16 months of separation from his growing family and was soon awarded the rank of Captain. He was stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia and Fort Rucker, Alabama. His flying career for the US Army kept him in the Deep South until 1966. The Vietnam War was in raging full force. Again he left his family to fight for the freedom of total strangers and his beloved America. Flying infantry troops in and out battle, he survived the odds and came home to his family. A hero.
The US Army kept everyone moving and Fort Leavenworth, Kansas was a close posting to his beloved Montana. Jack attended the Command General Staff College, and was then stationed in Heidelberg, Germany from 1968 until 1972. From 1972 to 1973, he chose to fly in Vietnam and see the end of a difficult war. His family was fatigued by the constant moves. Jack was fortunate to land the post as Professor of Military Science, heading up the ROTC department at Montana State University until his retirement in 1978.
Civilian life gave him time to explore the things he loved. Jack was a tireless volunteer. The American Red Cross, Men's Garden Club, the Lewis and Clark Heritage and Hope Lutheran Church Winter Fair Kitchen, Gallatin Republicans were some of the organizations blessed with his deep intelligence and vision. He enjoyed giving his time freely to organizations and was a detailed number cruncher and record keeper, knowing how many bean seeds he planted and what a square foot of little green onions would yield at the farmers market. He was awarded national honors for his work with the Red Cross and was a member of the Order of Daedalians.
He enjoyed gardening and floating the many rivers of Montana. He was a student of history and loved to read. Jack was a member of many interesting coffee klatches in Bozeman. We know his bright wit and thoughtful observations will be missed.
In 2009 he moved to Aspen Pointe where he enjoyed his full life. Thank you to the caring staff of Aspen Pointe. He dearly loved his comfortable apartment and the companionship of the community. And of course, the lovely meals.
He is survived by daughter, Gretchen (Fellerhoff) and her husband Craig White; daughter, Karen (Fellerhoff) and her husband Peter Schmieding and their three children, Tashi Jangmu, Palden, and Tashi Dawa. He is also survived by nephews, Randy Fellerhoff his wife Susan and children, Whitney, Robin and Christi; Rick Fellerhoff and wife Marla and John Ryan (who will continue the Fellerhoff name one more generation); Margie Fellerhoff (Urdahl) his sister-in-law. He leaves very special and lovely friend, Phyllis Schuttler.
Betty preceded him in death, as well as brother, Bob Fellerhoff and parents, Tony and Ella. Many heartfelt thanks to the caring and compassionate staff at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital and Frontier Health Services.
Jack loved his family, friends and Country... Dad you were "Regular Army" and when things were tough, "Advance to the rear".
Visitation will be held Wednesday, Feb. 4 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service. A procession will begin from Hope Lutheran Church to Sunset Hills Cemetery on Thursday, Feb. 5 at 9:30 a.m. for graveside services with military honors at 10 a.m. followed by memorial services at 11 a.m. at Hope Lutheran Church.
Memorials may be made in Jack's name to the American Red Cross or to Hope Lutheran Church.
Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service. www.dokkennelson.com
Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service, 113 South Willson Avenue Bozeman, MT 59715, (406) 587-3184 Funeral Home Details
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle from Feb. 4 to Feb. 5, 2015
This information was last updated 05/24/2012
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