Dean Elmer, 79Colonel Dean A. Elmer, USAF (Retired) slipped the surly bonds of this earth for the last time on September 17, 2012 at his home in Duluth. He was 79 years old.
Colonel Dean A. Elmer, USAF (Retired) slipped the surly bonds of this earth for the last time on September 17, 2012 at his home in Duluth. He was 79 years old.
Dean was born August 12, 1933 to Clarence and Ella (Loe) Elmer in Cottonwood and moved to Evansville as a small child. He graduated from Evansville High School in 1951 and attended Gustavus Adolphus College for two years. Dean entered the U.S. Air Force with Aviation Cadet Class 55P, going on to fly the F-86 Sabre Jet, F-100 Super Sabre and F-105 Thunderchief fighter aircraft.
He married his childhood sweetheart, Elaine Nelson, in 1955 and they were blessed with two children, Susan and Wayne. A career Air Force family, they lived all over the world with assignments in Japan, Germany and Turkey. In 1962, he flew “Operation Heavyweight,” the F-105 flight demonstration for President John F. Kennedy and set the record for heaviest takeoff weight for a single engine fighter that still stands today. He sat ready alert in Florida during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Colonel Elmer was shot down over North Vietnam in 1966 on his 68th combat mission. Hit by anti-aircraft gunfire, he used an untried aeronautic technique that kept his critically damaged F-105 airborne for another 10 minutes. Following his recovery, the aircraft manufacturer and U.S. Air Force published that technique as standard procedure for other F-105 pilots.
He retired in 1976 as Deputy Wing Commander of the 363rd Combat Support Group, Tactical Air Command at Shaw Air Force Base. His military awards include the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal (11 awards), Air Force Commendation Medal, and the Purple Heart.
Returning to Evansville after his retirement from the Air Force, he devoted his energy and passion to wildlife conservation, native prairie conservation, the Boy Scouts of America (troop leader), his family and church. Dean was a founding member of the Pioneer Heritage Conservation Trust and a board member of the Evansville Historical Society. Dean also served on the Evansville City Council and was president of the congregation for Faith Lutheran Church. He was recognized by the state of Minnesota and conservation groups for his conservation work. Dean and Elaine voluntarily placed more than 500 acres of their private land in a permanent conservation easement to protect some of the last unplowed native prairie in the state of Minnesota.
Dean was predeceased by his parents and brothers, Wayne and Ray Elmer.
He is survived by his loving and devoted wife of 57 years, Elaine; daughter, Susan (Jay) Anderson of Rochester, son, Wayne (Kimberly) Elmer of Duluth; grandchildren, Lora, Tor and Hana Anderson and Kristin and Kathryn Elmer; brother, Donny Elmer of Evansville; sister, Betty Olson of West Fargo, ND; and numerous nieces, nephews and extended family.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorials be made to the Sunday School Program of Faith Lutheran Church, Evansville, where he had served as a Sunday school teacher.
Funeral services were held Saturday, September 22 at Faith Lutheran Church in Evansville with the Rev. Carol Olson officiating.
Interment was at Mound Grove Cemetery in Evansville with military honors by West Douglas County American Legion Post 188 – Evansville.
Online condolences are available at GlendeNilson.com.
The Glende-Nilson Funeral Home of Evansville is in charge of arrangements.
Comments posted on this page do not reflect opinions of Forum Communications Company. Forum Communications Company does not endorse and is not responsible for any statement, opinion, advice given or made. All replies are subject to approval and must follow Forum Communications Company guidelines concerning statements of libel, personal attacks or defamation of character. Replies in the "Talk About It" section that criticize a person by name may not be posted, unless that person is openly involved in a public issue. Comments written in all capital letters or bold print will not be considered for inclusion in the forum.