October 27 1920-November 23, 2019
Col. (Ret.) Jean D. Tarbutton USAF age 99, of Salado, Texas passed away on Saturday November 23, 2019. was born in San Antonio, Texas, on October 27, 1920, to James Wilford and Gladys DuPuy Tarbutton. He attended public schools in Palestine, Lufkin, Houston, and Brenham, Texas. He graduated from Brenham High School in 1937. At the college level, he attended the Allen Military Academy, Texas A&M University, the University of Maryland, and the University of Mary Hardin Baylor. He was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree in general studies and a Bachelor of Science degree in education.
Prior to World War II, he was employed at the Hughes Tool Company in Houston, Texas. He entered the United States Army Air Corps in January 1942 as an aviation cadet and received his pilot wings and commission as a second lieutenant in October 1942. In combat, he served in the Aleutian Islands as a dive bomber pilot and in the European Theater of Operations as a fighter pilot, flying the P-47 Thunderbolt and the P-51 Mustang. On December 5, 1944, while engaged in aerial combat on his 62nd mission, his P-51 caught fire and he was forced to bail out near Berlin, Germany. He was captured and placed in a prisoner of war camp where he remained until the camp was overrun by the Russian Army near the end of the war. In 1946, he received a regular commission in the United States Air Force and remained on active duty until he retired in February 1970. He retired in the grade of Colonel with an aeronautical rating of Command Pilot, and his last duty assignment was Base Commander, Bergstrom Air Force Base, Austin, Texas. His duty assignments included service at the base level, major air command level, and Headquarters, USAF at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C. His decorations and awards include the Distinguished Flying Cross, six Air Medals, the Meritorious Service Medal, two Military Merit Medals, the French Brevet Militaire de Pilote D’avion, the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the Eastern and Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and the Prisoner of War Medal.
Following retirement, Col. Tarbutton was active in community affairs in Salado, Texas. He served as president of the Salado Water Supply Corporation, as president of the Salado Chamber of Commerce, and as chairman of various art fair committees. He also taught for seven years in the Salado schools and served on the Salado ISD Board of Trustees for three years. He was a member of the Salado United Methodist Church, the Salado Chamber of Commerce, the Salado Historical Society, the Retired Officers Association, and the Salado Lions Club where he received the 1996 Lion of the Year award. He was also a member of the Former Student Association of Texas A&M University and the 12th Man Foundation.
He was preceded in death by his first wife, the former Verbena Elizabeth Blake of Brenham, Texas; his father, James Wilford Tarbutton; his mother, Gladys Tarbutton Gross; his brother, James W. “Jack” Tarbutton; and his stepson Charles M. Kelly. He is survived by his second wife, Anna Kelly Tarbutton; his stepson, John R. Kelly; his stepdaughter, Kathleen Kelly Nagel; three step-grandchildren JJ, Rainey; Luke Kelly; and Anna-Marie Nagel Toomey; and seven great-step-grandchildren.
A visitation for Jean will be held Saturday, December 7, 2019 at 3 p.m. at Salado United Methodist Church, Salado, Texas. Funeral services will follow at 4:00 PM with Dr. David Mosser officiating. Reception to follow the service at 5:00PM. Burial will be held on Monday, December 9, 2019 at 11:00 AM at Ft. Sam Houston, San Antonio, TX.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Special Olympics of Texas, North Region, 400 S. Zang, #926, Dallas, TX 75208, Autism Speaks, P.O. Box 37147, Boone, IA 50037-0147, and Shriners Hospitals for Children, 2900 Point Drive, Tampa, FL 33607.