J. Gavin Asher, 92 of Mexico, Mo., died April 10, 2013, at Monroe Manor in Paris, Mo.
He was born Feb. 6, 1921, on the old Asher farm near Dunlap, Mo., son of the late John and Hazel Asher (nee Wathen).
Mr. Asher graduated from Trenton High School in 1940, and worked for various farmers in Missouri and Kansas. He volunteered for military service after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, enlisting Feb. 16, 1942. After training, he was sent overseas with the U.S. Army 9th Air Force Middle East, where he served as engineer and gunner on a Liberator bomber. In 11 months, Asher saw 302 hours of combat time during 32 bombing missions, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for “gallantry and achievements in action.” He was also the first Trenton boy to receive the Outstanding Aerial Achievements Air Medal for his first 100 hours of combat time. Other military awards included the European African Middle Eastern Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, and the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster for more than 300 hours of air combat.
Mr. Asher’s stateside duty assignments included Utah, Idaho, California and Washington as an instructor; followed by an honorable discharge on Sept. 12, 1945. Upon his return to Trenton, Mo., he worked for various farmers, carpenters and a lumberyard in the Trenton area and in Ohio. With a family of four and a lack of meaningful employment, he enlisted in the Air Force Reserves and was called to active duty in January 1951. His first duty was in southern Japan flying C-119 cargo planes into Korea. Along with stateside duty in Illinois, Texas, and Hawaii, he served in French Morocco, Thailand and Vietnam. He finished his service career at Dow Air Base in Bangor, Maine, with honorable discharge on May 31, 1968. Through his military service, this “Trenton farm boy saw the world.”
The American Red Cross offered him employment following his military service with assignments in New Jersey, Vietnam and Virginia; he “retired” in northern Missouri in 1970. In June 1971, he married Stelona Shew-Wampler; together they resided in Brookfield, Boonville, Moberly and Mexico, Mo., until her admittance at Monroe Manor in Paris, Mo. In these communities, Asher enjoyed various odd jobs, huge gardens for a local farmer’s markets, his “Gavin’s Goodies” food trailer for area auctions, and volunteering with civic organizations.
Asher was a lifetime member of the Air Force Sergeant’s Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars Gold Circle Member, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans Bronze Leader, Lions Club International and Masonic Lodge, and has held various leadership positions in some of the local organizations along with leadership in Toastmasters International, and as Linn County Civil Defense Director. While president of the Pershing Park Association, the Wall of Honor at the John J. Pershing Memorial in Laclede, Mo., was erected. Asher was licensed to preach by the Southern Baptist Church and held revival meetings, pulpit supply and conducted funeral services.
Survivors include his wife, Stelona; children from his first marriage, Gavin Lee Asher of Ottumwa, Iowa, Charlotte Ann Caves of Oskaloosa, Iowa, Janice Elaine Burman of LaSalle, and Connie Marie Slechta of Ottumwa, Iowa; six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents in 1977, his son Elliott Lynn Asher in 1975, and siblings Francis Asher Adams, Solomon Earl Asher, Charles Edwin Asher and Olive Asher Post.
Private family services will be held at a later date in Rural Dale Cemetery in Dunlap, Mo.
Interment will be at the Asher family plot alongside three previous generations of the Asher family including his great-grandfather Solomon Asher, who came to Grundy County, Mo. in 1868 from Ohio.
Pickering Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Memorials may be made to the American Cancer Society.