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Eugene C. Fletcher

July 30, 1928 - January 20, 2017

Living a truly remarkable life as a highly decorated Air Force Veteran, Aerospace Engineer, Family Man, Friend, Educator and Community Servant, Lt. Col. Eugene Curtis Fletcher, 88 years, joined his maker on Friday Jan. 20, 2017.
Born July 30, 1928 in Bristow Oklahoma to Jack and Iris Fletcher, he was a highly motivated person graduating from the University of Kansas in 1951 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.  Having participated in Air Force ROTC while a Jayhawk, he jumped at the opportunity to attend flight school in Orlando Florida where he met the love of his life Katherine Shackelford.  Similar to an “Officer and a Gentleman”, they wed after 6 weeks in 1952 and the First Lieutenant promptly departed in 1953 for the Korean War flying F-84s.
Following the Korean War, his love of family were born two daughters Jamie Fletcher Strohecker and Carla Fletcher Jochim.   Gene’s post war focus was groundbreaking, entering into the arena of rocket and flight research which lasted for 10 years.

The Air Force sent Gene to Oklahoma State University where he continued his education, graduating with a Masters in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering and headed to the Aerospace Research Laboratory at Wright Patterson AFB, in Fairborn Ohio.  He worked with world research scientists/engineers, exploring the feasibility of using nuclear propulsion systems for deep space applications.   In 1967, the Air Force assigned the 37 years young Lt. Colonel to Northeast Thailand flying C-123s for night missions over the Ho Chi Minh Trail.  There he earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses and nine Air Medals.
After returning from overseas, Gene continued his research in rocket, jet engine and airplane component research at Arnold AFB.  His curiosity to explore the PNW and interest in teaching led to the acceptance of a position as ROTC Commander at Willamette University in 1971, retiring after 23 years of exemplary military service in 1975.    Expanding his education further, Gene took this extra time to complete another Masters in Industrial Engineering in 1977 at Oregon State University.

Following graduation from OSU, Gene worked for the Oregon State Parks Department, finally retiring in 1990.  Really Retired?  Not yet…Continuing his service, Gene became the docent at the McMinnville Air Museum and helped found, with his beloved wife Kathy, the Institute of Continued Learning at Willamette University.  After 23 years, the Institute at Willamette University continues successfully.  Gene’s love of adventure has included for the past 25 years worldwide travel with his children and grandchildren.
The impact he had with his love of country, family, friends and community will be hard to replace.   A man of deep faith, his comments to family were “I never expected to live this long and have had such a rich life.  When my time comes, I will leave without any regrets and a happy man”.  We are proud to be a part of his loving and heroic legacy with Katherine Fletcher, wife of 64 years, his children Jamie Strohecker (John), Carla Jochim (Alan) and 4 grandchildren Nicholas, Alexandra, Taylor (Alex) and Matthew (Molly).

Please join us for a celebration of Gene’s life Saturday February 18th beginning at 2 pm at Capital Manor Auditorium in Salem Oregon.  Contributions can be made to your favorite charity in his honor.
Please sign the online guest book at   Assisting is Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service.

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Guest Book Entries

Gene was the spark at every family event. He was charming and always had a great story about some cool place where he & Kathy had visited. I appreciated his passion for Thailand and his inside information on where to stay & what to do. My thoughts & prayers are with the family!

Please accept my sincere condolences to the family.  May the God of all comfort give you the comfort you need to endure this difficult time and the days ahead (2 Corinthians 1:3,4)

I was sad to learn of Gene's passing, but I'm glad I had the opportunity to meet him and his family.   Thank you for sharing him with the rest of us.

Thank you Dad for all your love and guidance.  Love you forever.  Carla

It was a pleasure and a privilege to know Gene through ICL, a program he and Kathy began and one my wife Ruthann and I enjoy every week.  Our condolences to Kathy and family.

Praying God's strength and comfort and peace for you Carla and your whole family. So very sorry for your loss.


Praying God's strength and comfort and peace for you Carla and your whole family. So very sorry for your loss.


Gene always had a friendly smile. He shared his experiences in the Air Force when both my sisters were thinking of joining. He will be deeply missed by family and friends.

I didn't know Mr. Fletcher.  But I know his loving daughter Carla.   And although I am saddened by her loss, I am equally reverent of the life that her father led - the gallantry of his military service, his dedication to all that truly mattered, and the love for all of those that he invited into his life.    Mr. Fletcher built a legacy of courage, aptitude, and love that will reverberate for generations to come.   May peace embrace you.

As a high school student, it was through Carla and Gene Fletcher that I attended an event at Willamette which convinced me to apply to and attend that Univeristy. That decision led to doors opening for me throughout my adult life.

It was truly a joy when Gene & Kathy Fletcher began attending Westminster. Each Sunday I appreciated their positive comments about my kids, as well as hearing about Carla and her family. During the months my mother suffered from what became a fatal brain tumor, then when Dad passed less than a year later,  their sensitivity and reassuring greetings helped keep me positive. 

Gene's smile and warmth will not be forgotten.
it was indeed a wonderful life.

I wanted to send this poem as I believe Emerson was writing about Eugene C. Fletcher and his very successful life. What a magnificent man he was! My heart is with you and your family. 

What is Success?
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty; To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived;
This is to have succeeded.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

A wonderful tribute.  We send our condolences.  Bruce and Lisa Magnuson

To our dear friends the Jochims!  We are incredible sad for your loss of such an incredible father, husband, friend and human being.  I wanted to share this comforting statement from Leo Buscaglia:

  • I know for certain that we never lose the people we love, even to death.  They continue to participate in every act, thought and decision we make.  Their love leaves an indelible imprint in our memories.  We find comfort in knowing that our lives have been enriched by having shared their love.   

We love you - the Westcott's

Dear Carla,
We are thinking of you and your wonderful father and family.
Anne & Larry