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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

John Stephen Woelfel

John Stephen Woelfel
John Stephen Woelfel

John Stephen Woelfel (formerly of Ocala, Florida) passed away peacefully on April 6, 2024 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, surrounded by loving family. He was 83.

John was predeceased by his parents John and Irma Woelfel.

He was a devoted husband to Mary Ellen Woelfel, his beloved wife, with whom he shared countless cherished moments and built a life filled with love, travel, horses and adventure.

In addition to his wife, John is survived by his brother Robert (Sandy) Woelfel of Arlington, Texas. His children: Laura (Casey) Lineberry of Crane Hill, AL; John (Jennifer) Woelfel and Debbie (Kenneth) Crownover of Tuscaloosa, AL.

John was blessed with five grandchildren, Drew Madison, Jennifer Salinas (Stephen), Jessica Phifer (Neal), Cade Woelfel, and Cara Panno (Austin) five great grandchildren, a niece and a nephew, two great nieces and a great nephew — all who loved the man they called “Pappy.” His legacy lives on through his remaining family and the values he instilled in them.

John’s interest in flying started when he was 11 years old; he met a Trans World Airlines pilot in the neighborhood. Because of that chance meeting, his career objective never wavered from being a commercial airline pilot. His selection of Hobart College was due in part to their having an Air Force ROTC offering which he completed. Upon graduation, John became a U.S. Air Force officer and was assigned to Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Georgia where he learned to fly military jets. After completion of flight training, he was assigned to a Strategic Air Command base (K.I. Sawyer AFB) in Gwinn, Michigan to fly KC-135 refueling planes. As aircraft commander, his squadron went to Southeast Asia where he refueled B-52 bombers over Vietnam in addition to other “thirsty” military jets.

After 5 ½ years of Air Force service, John joined National Airlines in Florida to begin his successful commercial airline pilot career. From there he went on to fly for Pan Am and Delta Airlines as Captain. His love for flying was only rivaled by his passion for sailing. A seasoned sailor, John regularly sailed the Florida Keys, but his favorite trips were the night crossings to the Bahamas.

He will be remembered for his sense of humor and his genuine care for others. He touched the lives of many through his kindness, generosity and love of life, leaving an indelible mark on all who had the pleasure of knowing him.