Leroy Engdahl, 90, of Vidor crossed over Monday, Feb. 8, 2010. Services will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb 13 at Memorial Funeral Home in Vidor. Visitation will be Friday, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the funeral home.
He was born Dec. 12, 1949, in Brady, Texas to Walter and Flora Engdahl. He was the oldest of four siblings and the only son. Leroy attended school in Rochelle, Texas where he excelled in sports, Future Farmers of America and public speaking. After graduating from high school, he went to Texas A&M and then Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois.
When World War II began, Leroy joined the Army Air Corp and became a B-24 pilot. He was stationed in Seething, England and was a member of the 8th Air Force, 448th bomb group, second air division. He flew the first raid over Berlin. His plane was shot full of holes on almost every mission. He was the first pilot in his air group to complete his thirty missions. He was met by his comrades on return and was given striped pajamas, a bottle of scotch and a cardboard replica of the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was later awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by General Doolittle. He remained in England and taught flight school until the end of the war. He remainded active in the Air Force reserves for 25 years and retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Following his military service, Leroy was employed by Brown and Root, Dupont and then Dresser Industries, from which he retired after 25 years of service. He was a member of the Young Men’s Business League, Retired Officers Association, Military Officers Association and the A&M Club for 60 years. He was a devoted Aggie fan and attended every game until his health prohibited it. He was an avid gardener and enjoyed sharing his vegetables with friends and neighbors.
One of his greatest accomplishments was the restoration of the control tower in Seething, England. He personally wrote hundreds of letters to members of his bomber group and solicited contributions so the tower could be restored to its original state. The tower is now a museum and a source of pride for both the residents of Seething and the members of the 448th bomb group and their families. Leroy was also instrumental in organizing and planning annual reunions which took place in England and various places in the U.S. He was active in yearly Veteran’s Day programs and was extremely patriotic. Due to his failing health, he was unable to participate in the 2009 program at the Vidor schools. The program was dedicated to him, which deeply touched his heart.
Leroy is survived by his wife of 63 years, Barbara, four daughters; Deborah Hencke of Pepperell, Mass., Brenda Engdahl of Houston, Anita Goodman of Vidor, and Donna Hampton of Colleyville, Texas. He is also survived by eight grandchildren; Megan Goodman Esthay, Laura, Robert, and Sarah Hencke, Madeline and Emily Hackemesser, Preston and Foster Hampton; and one great-granddaughter, Caroline Hampton. He is also survived by two sisters; Anne Klein of San Antonio, and Jo Elliott of Lawrenceville, Ga.
He was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Alice Hermansen; and his beloved grandson and best buddy, Aaron Michael Goodman.
Leroy lead a full and charmed life and had no regrets.