WAMPLER, James Paul (Lt Col USAF Ret.), formerly of Kettering and London OH, passed away on Tuesday, September 27, 2022 at the age of 88. After several years of declining health, Jim died peacefully in his sleep. Jim was born on August 18, 1934, in Millstone Kentucky to father Abe Wampler and mother Elease Smedley. The second of eleven children, Jim attended the Whitesburg High School where he played quarterback on his high school varsity team. Jim was able to attend the University of Kentucky through the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program and a scholarship from the South East Coal Company, which owned much of the land and mines where Jim and his family lived and worked. After 4 years Jim graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering, received his commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force, and went to work in Wisconsin as a civil engineer while awaiting orders for active duty. Jim proudly served in the Air Force for the next 22 years before retiring in August 1979 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and the recipient of multiple honors. He loved to fly and used to joke that serving in the Air Force was never a job; it was simply being paid to do what he always wanted and loved to do.
Through his Air Force career, Jim flew fighter jets and bombers, including the B47 Stratojet, but quickly settled into becoming a full-time B52 bomber pilot flying during the Cuban Missile Crisis and Vietnam War. He transitioned into becoming a B52 Flight Instructor after the war and continued his formal education at University of North Dakota completing another Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics in 1979. Jim was a life-long learner, teacher, and believer in sharing knowledge and experiences. After Jim retired from the Air Force, the family moved to Kettering, Ohio, where Jim started his next career working for the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). The same work ethic that propelled Jim through school and the Air Force served him well for the next 20 years to the time when he retired (again) as the Test Engineering Manager for ODOT District 8.
Jim’s greatest love of his life was his wife Louella (nee Adams). Jim and Lou married in December 1956. They were married for more than 50 years raising four children and living in many different places as Jim’s Air Force career took him around the country and world. Jim and Lou loved their children, travelling, horse racing, and square and round dancing. Jim loved to read scientific journals, histories, and science fiction stories. He also liked to watch any sport that included a University of Kentucky team especially basketball and football. Jim and Lou delighted in their children’s and grandchildren’s ball games, graduations, and other momentous occasions. As horse owners and informal trainers, their horses were often in the winner circle, culminating in Jetstream Cute Cam winning the Ohio Sires Stakes in 2003.
Jim was preceded in death by his wife, parents, brothers Tommy, Curtis, Cecil and Tony Wampler; sisters Cleo Holbrook, Saundra Wampler, Phyllis Thacker, Lelia Burton and Shelia Lewis. He is survived by his brother Frank (Connie) Wampler; children Julia Arlene (Tom) Insalaco, James Dale Wampler, Sherry Susan (David) Ley, and Timothy Paul Wampler; grandchildren Sarah and Joseph Insalaco, Emily (Jack) Summerlin, Ally and Chloe Wampler; Paul and James Ley; and Joshua Wampler. He is also survived by great-grandsons Jack and Nolan Summerlin.
A funeral service will be held at 6pm on Monday, October 17, 2022 at Routsong Funeral Home, 2100 E. Stroop Rd., Kettering, OH. with Pastor Sarah Sparks-Franklin of Covenant Presbyterian officiating. Family will greet friends after the service until 8pm at the funeral home. A private burial will be held at Dayton National Cemetery.
If desired, friends may make memorial contributions to the Alzheimer’s Association at https://www.alz.org/, calling their 24/7 hotline at 800.272.3900 or mailing to 225 N. Michigan Ave., Fl. 17, Chicago, IL 60601. Condolences may be sent to the family at www.routsong.com.