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Lewis A. Getchell

October 8, 1920 ~ December 7, 2017 (age 97)

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Graveside Service
December 14, 2017

1:00 PM
Holyoke Cemetery
20250 County Road 41
Holyoke, CO 80734

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Lewis A. Getchell, age 97 of Joplin, MO. was called home by his Lord and Savior at

8:00 am on Thursday, December 07, 2017 at National Healthcare in Joplin after a one year battle with cancer.  When Lewis died, he was surrounded by his family.  Lewis was born October 8, 1920 to Leonard and Zora Getchell on a farm near Yuma, Colorado.

Lewis lived in several Southeastern Colorado communities including Holly and Towner growing up during the depression and dust bowl.  In 1938, his Father and Mother, Leonard and Zora Getchell moved to Holyoke.  Zora was a minister for the Assembly of God Church, who was called to start a church in Holyoke.  Rev. Zora wrote Lewis that she had met a young lady, Dorene Holtzman who she would like Lewis to meet.  Of course, Lewis said he would pick out his own girl friends.  In late summer, Lewis moved to Holyoke and met Dorene.  Lewis attended Phillips County High school and graduated from Phillips County High School in 1939 and Dorene graduated from Phillips County High School in 1941.

On July 25, 1941 he and Dorene were married, in St. Francis, Kansas.  They lived in Holyoke until Lewis was inducted into the Army Air Corps on October 8, 1942.  He was trained as a waist gunner on a B-24 at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, Colorado.  On October 18th, 1943, the 705th Squadron of the 446th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force departed for England where they were based at Bungay.  Lewis, who was promoted to Staff Sergeant while in England, flew 30 missions over Germany from December 1943 until May 1944.  One of those missions was the first daylight bombing of Berlin on March 6, 1944.  On this mission, due to the number one engine being on fire as a result of flack over Berlin, the plane crippled back to England after the fire was extinguished while diving/falling over 15,000 feet.  Among the citations Lewis was awarded included the Distinguished Flying Cross with three oak leaf clusters.  In May 1944 while he was stationed in England, his son, Leroy, was born.  He returned from England in September 1944 and was again stationed at Lowry in Denver where his daughter, Patricia, was born in June, 1945.  Lewis trained on a B-29 and was preparing for duty in the Asian-Pacific theatre when the war ended. 

After the war, Lewis returned to Holyoke, Colorado with his family where he started a gravel hauling business.  He started this business with a Model A Truck and a scoop shovel.  He shoveled the gravel on the truck and when it was loaded, he shoveled it off the truck.  Needless to say, he worked extremely hard.  This business ultimately grew and he purchased a Ford tractor and a truck with a hoist.  As the business expanded, he later purchased a backhoe, chain digger, an Allis Chalmers caterpillar and additional trucks.  He operated this business until April 1, 1960 when he sold the business to Kramer and Leban.  Lewis served as a member of the Holyoke Volunteer Fire Department.

Lewis moved the family to Southern California, where they stayed for a little less than two years.  Due to Leroy having health problems, Lewis and family moved to Fallon, Nevada in the spring of 1962.  Lewis worked for Kennametal Inc., a tungsten carbide processing company.  Lewis started as an hourly employee, worked his way up, finally becoming the general plant foreman over production and maintenance over two plants.  During the time in Fallon, he and his son started a Polled Hereford farm which they operated until Lewis retired in 1980 and moved the cattle to Wentworth, Missouri.  Lewis Getchell and Son Polled Herefords were noted for quality seed stock.  In addition to private sales of cattle, they sold bulls at several tested bull sales including Mt. Vernon and Columbia, Missouri.  In 1992, Lewis dispersed the cattle herd and sold the farm and ultimately moved to Joplin.  After an illness, Dorene passed away in Joplin on March 19, 2000 after nearly 59 years of marriage. 

On February 14, 2003, Lewis and Oleta Whitehead were married in Joplin.  They have continuously lived in Joplin since their marriage although their first home was destroyed in the 2011 Joplin tornado.  Lewis was a member of Calvary Baptist Church, Joplin.

Preceding him in death were his parents, his wife, Dorene, and his sister Irene Miller.

Lewis is survived by his wife, Oleta.  Additional survivors include a son Leroy Getchell and wife Lyla, Joplin, MO; a daughter, Patty Getchell, Atlanta, GA; three step children, Janice France and husband Wayne, Ozark, MO; Michael Whitehead and wife Judy, Joplin, MO; and Judith DuRall and husband Randy, Joplin, MO;  two grandchildren, Dr. Roy Getchell and wife Tracy, Avon, CO and John Getchell and wife Michelle, Kaneohe, HI (formerly Sarcoxie, MO); four great-grandchildren and a host of step grandchildren, great-grandchildren, step great-great grandchildren and step great-great-great grandchildren; as well as nieces, nephews, cousins and many friends.

Services will be held on Tuesday, December 12, 2017 at Parker Mortuary in Joplin, with the Rev. Tom Goettel officiating.  The family will receive friends from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm at the mortuary.

A graveside service will be held at the Holyoke Cemetery, Holyoke, Colorado on Thursday afternoon December 14, 2017 with the Rev. Max Hines officiating. 

Contributions may be made to the Baptist Children’s Home, Mt. Vernon, Missouri.


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