John Lindsay Tullis Sr. passed away peacefully with his two daughters present on September 28, 2022 at the tender age of 99 years. Born in Pendleton, Oregon (1 of 6 kids, 2nd from the youngest) he was raised on a ranch with his 3 brothers, caring for every kind of animal one might imagine. He pitched hay, manure, sewed sacks on the combine, built fences, cleaned the barn, chased horses, cattle, plowed the fields and cooked with his mom. He described hating the harsh, cold winters horseback riding to a one-room schoolhouse as a young boy. In high school, he drove a 1930 4-door Model A Ford (top speed - 35 mph) and later sold it for $25! He was a graduate of Griswold Union High School, Helix, Oregon.
Later, sitting in his bunk at Oregon State, the radio came on. Pearl Harbor had been bombed. He and his roommates knew nothing about Pearl Harbor or where it was. "But we knew we'd be going to war", he recounted. Enlisting in the Navy in 1941, he underwent an extensive two years of training in radio electronics, radar navigation, Morse code, 30, 50 caliber machine guns and mathematics. He deployed to the Solomon Islands in 1943...zigzagging across the ocean every 20 minutes to avoid the Japanese subs that were tracking them.
Having ROTC training, he was enlisted as a 3rd Class Petty Officer and was put in charge of a group of young sailors. He recalled how nervous he was because, in his words, "I was so young". During his Solomon Islands excursions, he served as an electronics radioman, gunner and was a member in the ACORN units directing air traffic (take-offs & landings). He shared stories of how the natives followed him everywhere. He described a young kamikaze pilot having been shot down and survived. "He was just a 14 year old kid."
He told stories how the troops were entertained by celebrities such as Ray Milland, Bob Hope and Jack Benny. He spoke about the many USO celebrities he shuttled between the islands to the different shows as a radioman. He learned magic from Orson Welles and entertained his kids for years with card tricks. He was Honorably Discharged holding the rank of Petty Officer 1st Class.
His stories of the Solomon Islands experience were fascinating. As one of the last living WWII veterans, he has been a guest speaker in high school history classes in Wrangell, AK, Charlestown, IN and St. Helens, OR. (as recently as April, 2022). The students found his stories exciting and engaging. One student asked if he still knew Morse Code. He asked her name. It was Hannah. He immediately spelled her name out in Morse Code. What an experience it was for this generation to interview someone who represented actual history.
Following his service in the Navy, he held multiple jobs while raising 5 kids, holding different civic positions along the way and was a member of the Elks Lodge for 75 years. His ultimate profession was that of a real estate broker, which took him to Wrangell, Alaska after his wife (Anna Mae Deason) died in 1989 after 43 years of marriage. He owned his own boat and enjoyed fishing and flying his own plane during his time in Wrangell. He made many friends, some of whom have visited him since his move from Wrangell after 30 years to live with his daughter in Vancouver, WA in March, 2021. Those visits were a highlight for him after his move. Just weeks ago, his son took him up to Mt Hood on an 8500' chairlift. He told everyone, "I climbed Mt Hood!"
Throughout his years in Wrangell, he'd call his son, "I'm coming down for Christmas". Wanting to avoid the harsh Wrangell winters, especially as he grew older, one never knew when he'd be returning to Wrangell. Having had a triple bypass and valve replacement at 90 years old (cared for by his daughter-in-law during his recovery), his daughter learned that the valve was good for only ten years. It's been ten years. Throughout his last evening, his two daughters sang and prayed over him while holding his hand. As they played the song "Calling All Angels", the angels came for him and he passed away in peace.
Eleven grandkids and 19 greats enveloped him in love and wonderful memories upon his return to the Northwest. He held, kissed, teased and played with several of his great grandchildren while passing his infamous hot rolls recipe and techniques on to his grown grandkids who are madly trying to replicate the magic and delicate taste. He was visited by all his children and several grandchildren prior to his passing.
He is survived by his 5 children: John Tullis Jr. (Deborah), Portland, OR; Janna Tullis (Vancouver, WA); Phillip Tullis (Jeffersonville, IN); David Tullis (Ann), Bremerton, WA and Liz Hobbs (Steve), St. Helens, OR. He is also survived by 11 grandchildren (one predeceased) and 19 great grand children. He often said, "I loved having kids. Kids are a blast."
His burial was at River View Cemetery, Portland, Oregon. A family memorial will be held on his 100th birthday that will include TAPS played by a military honor guard. Remembrances may be made in the way of donations to the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation https://navalaviationfoundation.org Questions may be directed to his daughter Janna at firstname.lastname@example.org
Naval Aviation Museum Foundation
1750 Radford Blvd. Suite B, Naval Air Station Pensacola FL 32508