Obituary - Eldon Stanton
Eldon Clifton “Stan” Stanton, a longtime resident of Valparaiso and faithful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ passed away July 6th, 2021. At the age of 98, Eldon lived a long and full life. He is survived by his four children Phillippa Bedsole, Douglas Stanton, Deborah Brunson, and Dean Stanton, 15 Grandchildren, and 23 Great Grandchildren, as well as his beloved pet Maltese “Diva.”
Born to Arkansas sharecroppers in 1922, young Eldon’s drive was framed by the Great Depression and forged by the 1930’s Dust Bowl drought. The Stanton family survived by eating boiled shoe leather with days often passing between meals. As soon as he was able, he signed up to join the Marine Corps. In 1944, soon to be 2LT Stanton was informed that he was too scrawny to be a U.S. Marine. His slight build and 6-foot 1 inch frame missed the minimum weight requirement of 125 lbs. That boiled shoe leather left him three pounds shy of the mark. As he dejectedly walked away, a Marine Officer took note and followed him. The Officer ordered Eldon to eat 10 bananas, drink a gallon of water and then come back in an hour. Eldon complied and was accepted into the Naval Aviation Commissioning program; he weighed a whopping 128 pounds!
Eldon did the Marines and our country proud over 25 years of service during which time he fought in both WWII and the Korean War. As a fighter pilot, he flew combat missions in the Corsair jet, launching from aircraft carriers in the pacific theatre, and actively participating in the Japanese island-hopping campaign. For bravery in aerial combat, which included numerous live fire exchanges with the enemy, two major crashes, and being shot down over enemy territory, he was awarded four distinguished flying crosses and 11 Air Medals. After his extensive combat duties, Eldon’s potential was recognized, and he was given leadership training and then a prestigious position in Washington D.C. His career was further distinguished by two challenging Command tours during which he led hundreds of Marine aviators.
While reflecting on his service as a Marine, Eldon was always amazed that he was paid to fly such incredible machines and given so many opportunities. He recalled with glee that during his early years the Marines paid him $75 dollars a month, of which he kept $25 and sent $50 home to his mother and still felt like a king!
After retiring from service, Eldon settled down to raise his four children and follow his passion for Christ into the ministry. Eldon used the GI Bill to attend seminary and become an ordained Pastor and member of the Gulf Coast Presbytery. He served in multiple roles at several churches during the 1970’s and 80’s, but he eventually found his way to the Gulf Coast Waterfront Rescue Mission as their Chaplain. There, he spent more than two decades teaching and counseling local men. He met folks where they were at. Often men at the end of their rope experiencing addiction, pain, depression, and loneliness. He shared Christ’s love with them. Not only in word but also in deed, helping these members of our community get back on their feet and begin to mend their lives. Difficult work, but “Chap,” loved to help and kept at it until he retired from daily chaplain duties at 85 years old.
While Eldon was the consummate professional in his work life, his greatest joy came from the 49 years he spent married to his wife Phillippa Emily Spears. It was her who turned his house into a home and perfectly softened his no-nonsense Marine Corps manners. He survived her untimely death and later rekindled a half century old high-school flame by marrying Patricia Cordes. After six joyous years together, Patricia also passed away.
Quiet and tranquil, Eldon spent his years in retirement enjoying his Grandchildren, watching his beloved Western movies where John Wayne and Audie Murphy were his perennial favorites, and constantly offering a table or a room to those in need. His Bible never far from his easy chair, Eldon loved the Lord. He possessed a keen intelligence and a thirst for knowledge that never left him. Fascinated late in life by the mystery of space, he read extensively and could wax eloquently on the complexities of black holes and new discoveries in string theory.
While his time on this earth has drawn to a close, we take joy in the knowledge that he was ready, and that today he resides in glory and in grace in the presence of our Savior Jesus Christ. We join with the Saints praising and thanking God for His grace, resting in reliance on the promise of Psalm 116:15, that “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants.” Husband, Father, Grandfather, Marine, Chaplain, Friend, Eldon is with the Lord now. Praise be to God.
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