Lt. Col. John J. Campbell
Lt. Col. John J. Campbell, age 80, of Goodyear, Ariz., passed away on July 5, 2020, in Goodyear, Ariz. He was born on July 27, 1939, to Phil Campbell and Mabel Campbell in Lincoln, New England.
He served in the United States Air Force from 1961 to 1985 and made it to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel with the title Navigator. He had over 6,000 hours in the Air Force KC-135 as a Master Navigator. He is the recipient of the meritorious service medal with one leaf cluster, the Air Medal with four leaf clusters, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. After his retirement, he served for 10 years with the California Contractors state license board as a deputy registrar of contractors. He was a member of Ben Ali Shrine, the Union Kit Carson Lodge Number 58, the National Sojourners, New Hope OES, he was a life member of the American Legion AWO, and a life member of the Military Officers Association of America.
He is survived by his wife, Wally Campbell; his daughter, Suzanne Wininger; his sons, Steve Brown, Stuart Brown, and John Campbell II; as well as his nine grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. John was preceded in death by his father, his mother, and his sisters, Phillis Latham and Carol Touvelle.
James Patrick McElhenny, Jr.
James Patrick McElhenny, Jr. passed away on June 20, 2020, in Goodyear at the age of 82. He was born in Philadelphia and was a veteran of the United States Navy. He was preceded in death by his parents, James and Catherine, and his brother Francis.
Jim was born and raised in Philadelphia, where he attended West Catholic High School and earned a Navy ROTC scholarship to Villanova University. There he met the love of his life, a nursing student named Sue LaRose. They married while he was in flight school in Jacksonville, where his instructors recognized his skills and recommended he join the elite jet pilot program. Because the start date interfered with his wedding date, he declined. The Navy requested he have his head examined. Jim, however, was always clear in what he wanted and did it “his way.” He would not start the first day of the rest of his life with the woman he loved by disappointing her or her family. His love and commitment led to a wonderful 60 years of marriage.
Jim had a successful 35-year career as a P-3 Orion pilot and was the first in the TAR (Training and Administration of Reserves) program to command a reserve P-3 patrol wing. His commitment to his family, however, was the hallmark of his life. Before each military move, Jim and Sue scouted out the best schools and homes to meet the needs of their children Sharon, Katie, and Jimmy. He attended all of their school programs and sporting events, encouraging and lifting up (and usually videotaping!) his children.
Jim was known for his calm, pragmatic demeanor. No one can remember him raising his voice; it was quiet, measured, and always diplomatic. He did possess a steely eyed look that has been imitated, but never duplicated. When he spoke, he held the room’s attention, particularly as a lector at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church.
Jim was the original jogger, setting a fitness example for all of us before fitness was cool. He challenged his children to continue learning and expanding their knowledge, as evidenced by his extensive library. He was always up for finding the answer to a query, long before there was Google. He celebrated all his children’s and grandchildren’s accomplishments, and he made a point of letting them know how proud he was of them.
His retirement continued to be an extension of putting family first. His unconditional and uncompromising love for his children, parents, in-laws, cousins, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren was on display daily. He garnered the love and respect of all eight of his grandchildren. James, Paul (Wendy) and Joey Arsenault; Conner and Reis Winkeljohn; Chelsea, Caitlin, and JJ McElhenny each knew just how proud he was of them. Jim treasured the time he was able to spend with his two great grandchildren Neveah and Ben, time he truly knew as a gift after having survived cancer for 10 years. He never ended a conversation with his family without saying “I love you.”
Jim said he lived a life without regrets. He got to see his beloved Villanova Wildcats win the national basketball championship three times. He was a lover of beefeaters martinis, Planters dry roasted peanuts, Neil Diamond, Don Ho, Hawaii, See’s dark chocolate vanilla creams, and Frank Sinatra. He definitely did it his way, and he was a good man.
He is survived by his wife Suzanne LaRose McElhenny; his children Sharon Pellman (Mark), Catherine Winkeljohn, and James McElhenny; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Gerald (Jerry) Mezek
Gerald (Jerry) Mezek, age 78, of Goodyear, Ariz., went peacefully to be with Jesus, his heart’s desire, Thursday, June 18. He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Lois Mezek. He was a loving father of Dina Timerman, Mindi Mezek, and proud “Papa” to Chloe Mezek. He will be remembered as a “good guy,” his light always shone to those around him. He ministered to many through his friendship, strong ethics, and his anecdotal story telling. He will be missed, but we know that he is sitting at the feet of Jesus sharing stories and his various interests. Condolences for the family can be left at www.thompsonfuneralchapel.com/obituary/gerald-jerry-mezek.
Carolyn Joan Ragsdale
Carolyn Joan Ragsdale, aged 54, of Goodyear, Ariz., passed away on June 30, 2020. She was born in Kansas City to Grant and Joan Ragsdale, Feb. 20, 1966.
Carolyn lived a full life of faith and service, work and play, conversation and community.
Carolyn earned her Kansas Certified Nurse Aide and worked in assisted living facilities for years. Lately she was very active at The Church at Litchfield Park, with youth activities and jewelry crafts.
We know Carolyn would like to thank all the people who loved and supported her through her sometimes difficult, most often joyful, journey through this life. She also deeply appreciated the support of the PebbleCreek neighborhood craft fairs, where she was able to sell her beautiful earrings, bracelets, and necklaces.
She leaves behind her mother and father, Joan and Grant Ragsdale of Goodyear, Ariz., brother Ken Ragsdale of Seattle, Wash., her Aunt Jane Way of Goodyear, Ariz., and numerous other family and friends throughout the country.
If so inclined, please donate to The Church at Litchfield Park, 300 N. Old Litchfield Rd., Litchfield Park, AZ 85340. Carolyn’s work with the youth groups was very important to her.
A celebration of life will be held at a later date at her church.