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Forum   •   Jeane Stites

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my viewSonoran News will have a Cave Creek forum for incumbents and candidates on January 30, 2013 from 7 to 9 p.m. in town hall.
Results will be printed in the following issue of Sonoran News on February 6. Invitations will be mailed this week.

Jeane Stites
Jeane Stites is my oldest sister and she isn’t delighted with the fact she is five years older than me. Nonetheless, who of you can say you have a sibling with whom you have never argued or fought?

Jeane met and married Wilbur Stites, who met her on his way to a rest camp in Washington State. Wilber (Bill) had been a waist gunner on a B-24 and was shot down over enemy territory, but managed to get back to allied lines.

Within a matter of weeks they married and after rest camp he returned to the University of Illinois to earn his masters degree in journalism.

Bill has passed away and I wrote an editorial about him in a past edition. But he specialized in the outdoors and was an early television personality in outdoor settings. He later went to Wisconsin Game and Fish and continued to specialize in outdoor matters. So they moved several times and she settled in Black Earth, Wis.

One of my important treasures is a note from her which said, “I have loved you since the day you were born.” I also treasure a picture of her with her arm around me when I was an infant sitting on a blanket.

It is really true that there never was an angry word between us, ever! She had two children but never stopped working until she retired from Oscar Meyer in Madison Wis.

During all her years she was the patient and responsible writer and editor of The 453rd Bomb Group Association Newsletter. This publication reported on 65 years of annual meetings. Although Bill started to edit the newsletter, Jeane soon did the whole task and published the newsletter quarterly. She and Bill often went to the meetings and Jeane continued after he died.

Jeane ended the last issue with this letter:

To all of the wonderful folks of the 453rd:

First and foremost, I want to thank the Association for the more than generous honorarium presented to me at the Second Air Division Convention in Rosemont, Illinois this past September. I tried to dissuade the Executive Committee since I have considered it a dream job, a labor of love and wanted no further benefit. They were adamant. (The cover photos remind me that I have not seen the WWII Memorial; do I see a trip in my future?)

As it is with all of you, I have mixed emotions about the dissolution of the 453rd BGA and publishing this last issue of the Newsletter. It has been an interesting and rewarding experience for me and I know I will miss keeping up with the members of the organization via e-mails, hand-written letters and phone calls. It has been one of the joys of my life to meet and get to know you and establish friendships over the years.

When the 453rd decided to become a separate organization within the 2ADA and Wilbur suggested they publish a newsletter, he was promptly "volunteered" for the job. He rough-drafted the articles and asked me to type the finished copies since my work experience was as a stenographer. As his depression accelerated, he became less and less involved and wanted to find someone else to take over. No one else came forward when volunteers were sought. As a high school student I had had hopes of becoming a journalist, so I assumed the preparation and mailing tasks.

All praise goes to the membership who provided the interesting stories, articles and photographs which were published over the years. Without your continued participation, the Newsletter would have faded into oblivion long ago. Thanks also go to Don Olds, who has faithfully and willingly submitted articles for each and every issue. He has truly been one of the most reliable sources for historical background. He is well known and appreciated by all who have contacted him to learn of family members who served with the Group.

It has been an honor, a privilege and a pleasure to be associated with the heroes of the 453rd BGA. I get teary when I realize this will be my final contact. It is my hope that many of you will choose to keep in touch. You truly are the "Greatest Generation" and the world will be diminished when all have left this realm, but I expect you to be glorified as you "soar with the angels."

I wish you all happiness in the holiday season, good health and blessings galore in the New Year and beyond. As the song goes – We’ll meet again, don't know where, don't know when, but I know we'll meet again some sunny day.

May God bless you all,

Jeane is truly representative of the greatest generation and I am honored to be her brother.