Cover photo for Lt. Col. (Ret) George B. Wallace's Obituary
Lt. Col. (Ret) George B. Wallace Profile Photo

Lt. Col. (Ret) George B. Wallace

January 18, 1932 — May 25, 2024

Oklahoma City

Lt. Col. (Ret) George B. Wallace

George Wallace, a 26-year career Air Force fighter pilot and respected Oklahoma business owner and civic leader, passed away at 92 years of age on Saturday, May 25, 2024, of natural causes.  He was surrounded in death by his loving family.

George was born January 18, 1932, in Red Wing, MN. He spent his formative years in Milwaukee and attended the University of Wisconsin to study mechanical engineering.   After two years he left to enroll in the USAF Officer Training Corps to pursue his dream since he was 9 years old of becoming a fighter pilot.  His first assignment as a young lieutenant was flying F-86s at Selfridge Air Force Base outside Detroit, where he met his future wife, Nancy, a USAF registered nurse, originally from Wampum, PA.  Shortly thereafter, he was transferred to Wheelis AFB in Tripoli, Libya, and Nancy to Wiesbaden, Germany, visiting each other when permitted. Eventually George and Nancy were reunited at Ramstein AFB and Bitburg AFB in Germany where George flew F-102 Delta Dagger interceptors as part of the US’s Cold War defenses. While overseas, George and Nancy enjoyed touring most of Europe together, including isolated West Berlin.  Shortly after their first child was born in Bitburg in 1963, they were transferred to Lubbock, TX where George was a flight instructor at Reese AFB.   Both daughters were born soon after in 1965 and 1967.  

In 1968, George was transferred to McConnell AFB in Wichita, Kansas to be checked out in the F-105 Thunderchief (the “Thud”) for which he volunteered, before shipping out to Takhli AFB in Thailand in November 1968. George had been offered a commercial pilot position with United Airlines but believed it was his duty to use his talents to support his country. Over the next year, he led or participated in 112 missions over Laos and North Vietnam, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross.  When he eventually retired “his” F-105 airplane, which he named Mrs. Robinson, to the Air Force boneyard in Arizona years later, he was proud to say that she never took a bullet. 

After his tour in Vietnam, he returned to McConnell AFB to train others in the F-105.   In 1972, he was transferred to OKC to oversee the reserve unit of F-105s there. For the rest of his life, George maintained contact and an unbreakable bond with his fellow “Thud drivers,” who often referred to him by his nickname and call sign “the Gov.”  For his last post in the Air Force, he was assigned second-in-command at the fighter pilot training program Red Flag (the USAF’s version of “Top Gun”) at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas.  This was his first desk job.  After 26 years and no plane to fly, he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1978 and chose to remain in OKC.  Equipped with a business degree from Oklahoma City University, he founded a successful recycling company, then a fairly novel business idea, named Sunbelt Recycling, which he eventually sold years later to enjoy retirement.  

His life passions led him into a variety of mainly civic-minded past-times, foremost being his regular participation in the annual fighter pilot reunions, especially the River Rats Association which was formed to lobby Washington to bring the remains of those killed in action (KIA) and POWs home from prison camps in Hanoi and raise funds for the children of those pilots who were KIA/MIA.  His father’s career with the railroad led to a lifelong love of trains, and he amassed an impressive model train collection. He served for years as president of the O Scale Kings (now ‘O Scale Central’ - model railroaders) and was an active member of the Oklahoma Model Railroad Association and Museum. Also locally, he was a member of the Bishop McGuinness High School Board (which all three children attended), served with former State Representative Charles Key on the OKC Bombing Grand Jury Committee, and was a member of the political action committee OCPAC, which among other accomplishments, successfully lobbied the OK state legislature from approving a needless 16 lane superhighway from Mexico to Canada through this state.  Politically conservative, George was formerly on the governing board of the John Birch Society.

Despite having had to work hard his whole life (his first job was at 6-years-old selling fruit door-to-door) and surviving combat, as well as numerous medical issues, George was a joy to be around.  He was so beloved by so many. He was quick to make a joke and was known for his love of dark beer, ice cream, and dogs.  He was a talented artist who frequently sketched Snoopy drawings (he wrote to Charles Schultz as a child) and was always assigned to be the artist for his pilot squadrons. He loved classic movies and classic cars, owning several Ford Model As.  He was also a classical music aficionado, Beethoven being his favorite, but maybe loved Frank Sinatra above all.  His last breath was taken to the Sinatra song “My Way.”   

George was an exceptional father and grandfather who was adored by his three children John (Chicago), Susan (Aberdeen, WA), and Karen (Alexandria, VA) and three grandchildren, John, Ryan, and Brooke (all of Aberdeen). George was preceded in death by his wife, Nancy, his parents, Ira and Carol, his beloved younger sister, Bobby, and his faithful sidekick, Brandy. 

Since we are unable to honor his wishes for a Viking funeral on Lake Hefner, a memorial service with military honors will be held at Smith & Kernke Funeral Home, 14624 N. May Ave, on Saturday, June 15th at 2:00 PM.  

In lieu of flowers, please make any memorial tributes to George’s beloved fighter pilot group or model train group:  River Rats  https://www.river-rats.org/donations/; Oklahoma Model Railroad Association and Museum https://www.omratrains.org

To order memorial trees in memory of Lt. Col. (Ret) George B. Wallace, please visit our tree store.

Past Services

Memorial Service

Saturday, June 15, 2024

2:00 - 3:00 pm (Central time)

May Ave - Smith & Kernke Funeral Homes & Crematory

14624 N May Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73134

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