James Ralph Erwin, 88, son of Jesse and Opal McKinney Erwin, was born Sept. 5, 1919, at Solo. He died Aug. 11, 2008, at Cox South in Springfield.
He grew up in the Solo community, graduating from Pleasant Hill Elementary. As a young teen, he helped on the family farm which included breaking horses.
As a young man, he purchased a milk route and operated it until he entered the Navy in September 1942.
During his time of service, he was a gunner on a flight crew operating in the Pacific Theater of World War II. He was awarded three Air Medals for meritorious action during combat.
After the war, he returned home and married Viola Scheets Feb. 8, 1946. For five years, they were partners with Viola’s parents in the general store at Yukon.
In January 1951, they moved to Kevil, Ky., where Mr. Erwin worked on the nuclear plant being built near Paducah.
In March 1954, they returned to Yukon to purchase a farm. For 23 years, they had a dairy/beef farm and Mr. Erwin was an artificial breeder for MFA.
In 1977, he retired and they moved to Houston.
During retirement, he developed a love of woodworking. He and his wife enjoyed traveling with their daughter’s family. He loved doing things with and for Chris and Megan, teaching them as they worked together. In recent months, his great-granddaughter had stolen his heart.
As a boy, he accepted Christ as Savior.
He was preceded in death by his parents and wife; two brothers, Wayne and Howard; and four sisters, Mildred Rust, Zella Rust, Zula Johnson and Olive Erwin.
Surviving are his daughter, Sherry Lea Gatlin of Houston; two sisters, Nita Akeman and Kathy Vance; two grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.
Services were Aug. 14 at the Ozark Baptist Church with the Rev. Ed Hamilton and the Rev. Bill Jetton officiating. Burial was in the Ozark Cemetery under the direction of Evans Funeral Home.
Memorials may be made to the Ozark Cemetery.