George J. Kallio, 92, of Ardmore, Okla., passed away on Wednesday, June 19, 2013. Funeral services will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 22, 2013, in The Chapel at Griffin~Hillcrest with Pastor Terry Tolbert officiating. Services will conclude in The Chapel with private interment to follow.
Born on June 25, 1920, to Joseph and Selma (Tuohino) Kallio, George was one of nine siblings born to immigrant parents who came to America from Finland in 1904. His parents met on the boat and were married a short time later. Settling in Peabody, Massachusetts, they later moved to a small Finnish community on the tip of Cape Ann, Massachusetts. His parents could not speak English until later in life. The children had a difficult time as they started school, as they neither understood nor spoke English. The family moved to Gloucester, Massachusetts, when George was 14. Gloucester citizens consisted of Italian, Portuguese, Finnish, English nationalities and others. George's father worked all his life in the granite quarries of the area.
George enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps, September 1, 1940, serving during WWII as a Tech Sergeant and Flight Engineer Instructor at Ardmore Army Air Field, instructing hundreds of B-17 combat crew flight engineers, in the classroom and sky, prior to the crew's assignment overseas. He was assigned to Ardmore in October 1943. Earlier, while at Ephrata AAF, Washington, he and three crew members bailed out of a distressed B-17, at 10:30 p.m. February 3, 1943, at 14,000 feet in a blinding snowstorm near Fairfield, Washington. He spent the night wrapped in his parachute in hip-deep snow until daylight when he walked to a farmhouse. This event, 66 years later, became the subject of a book, "The Night a Fortress Fell to Fairfield" authored by the granddaughter of the farm owner, S.J. Buob, where the aircraft crashed. In 2009, George became a belated member of the "Caterpillar Club," a unique organization open only to those who parachuted under life threatening circumstances.
Dottie Ralls, the love of his life, rode the train to Great Bend, Kansas, after he was transferred there from Ardmore, in October 1944. When she arrived, a Justice of the Peace, located a few blocks from the depot, married them. Not a church wedding, but maybe it qualified, as the Justice of the Peace's last name was Moses.
After the War, George became a commercial artist through determination, four years of night school and support from the GI Bill. He was fully employed in that field for 50 years, retiring in 1985. Following retirement, George and Dottie moved to Ft. Worth, Texas, where they lived for over 20 years. Dottie died in 2002 in Ardmore after complications of an abdominal condition. George served for a period of time as a Charge of Quarters volunteer at the Military Memorial Museum in Ardmore.
In later years, George spent a portion of his time producing unique pen and ink drawings that he "embellished" with color from acrylic paint, pastel chalks or pencils. The "Daily Ardmoreite" made others aware of his skill in its December 3, 2006, edition. George was the artist who designed the cover for the book authored by Claudia Hagen, granddaughter of S. J. Buob. George was a member of Trinity Baptist Church of Ardmore.
He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Dottie (Ralls) Kallio; three sisters; and four brothers.
George is survived by his son, Ron Rogers; granddaughter, Carol Beth Rogers; great-granddaughter, Tara; sister, Laura Murray; sisters-in-law, Charlyn Ralls, Inez Ralls and JoAnn Rush; brother-in-law, Wayne Ralls and wife, Ozelle; dearest friend, Gary Simmons; and numerous nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.
Condolences may be left at www.Griffin-HillcrestFH.com.