written by Joyce Dowling
Don Wickwire was born on January 29, 1921 in Waverly, NY to Albert & Ellen Wickwire who were descendant from a long line of Wickwires who came from England in 1675. Don was the second of eight children; older sister Dora and younger siblings Marjorie, June, Alice, Eva, Grace, and Charles.
According to his writings in his genealogy book, his father was an auto mechanic for Willis Knight when he was a child and for a few years they lived in Philadelphia. He remembers his mother keeping a garden and doing a lot of canning throughout his childhood with everyone helping out. He said, "We always had a nice Christmas and many picnics together." His grandfather, Frank, continued to live in Waverly so they moved back there right before he became ill and died in 1930. The garage went bankrupt during the depression in 1933. They moved to Corning in 1936 where his father worked for the Tea Co. until WWII and then he worked for the Glass Works. After graduating from Corning Northside High School, Don also went to work for Corning Glass Works until he was inducted into the army.
He entered the army on Aug. 8, 1942 in Rochester, NY. He had his basic training at Fort Dix. He was stationed in Miami Beach, FL for over 2 yrs. and then went to Sioux Falls, South Dakota and from there to Salt Lake City, Utah. He departed for the Philippines with Army Air Force Base Unit 3504 on June 29, 1945 until Japan surrendered. He liked to tell a story about how he got a foot fungus there that after treatment left him with baby-like skin that were sensitive in his army boots. He went with the initial forces to Korea and was given an honorable discharge on Feb. 16, 1946, having reached the rank of Sergeant. According to the records, though he never mentioned it, he received the American Service Medal, A-P Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Philippines Liberation Ribbon, and the WWII Victory Medal.
He sold a farmer newspaper in Perry, N.Y. while attending Alfred University on the GI Bill. He married Mary "Janice" Colegrove on June 1, 1949 and graduated in 1950. They moved to Syracuse where he worked for 14 yrs. for General Electric. A 50-acre farm in Lysander was where they lived and had a large garden while raising their 5 children who were born between 1951 & 1962 (Carol, Joyce, Chris, Fae, and Karen). Every year they went camping in the summer with a 14-foot Penn Yan boat. In 1963, he was separated from Janice when she went into the hospital with mental illness. His sisters offered to take one or two of the children, but he was adamant about keeping the family together.
In 1967, they moved to Maplewood, NJ where he worked for Weston Instrument Company, the largest manufacturer of instruments in the world at that time. He says, "the high use of drugs in the high school forced us to leave and we went to Seaford, Long Island, NY." The summer between the two homes, they camped out in Montauk Point on the beach. He worked for Digitronics, "a leader in telecommunications which included high speed off line communications such as the Social Securities Network which is the largest in the world. In addition they were a leader in the retail grocery computer modernization program which eventually led to the product code and in store mini-computers." Later the family, consisting of him and the 3 youngest children at this point, moved back to New Jersey for a short time and then to Florida. He enjoyed living near his father there until his death in 1985.
When Don passed away on Father's Day, June 17, 2007, he was
living with his son, Chris in Plant City, FL and had 17 grandchildren, and
8 great-grandchildren. He had some angina and diabetes, but was adamantly
against hospitals due to a bad experience. He wanted to "die a natural
death" and that's what he did. He was at home in his easy chair.
ADDITIONAL FAMILY HISTORY:
Wickwire Genealogy (hosted by 7th cousin)