James Allen Minetree Jr.

Published 5:34 pm Saturday, January 16, 2016

FRANKLIN — James Allen Minetree Jr. passed peacefully away on Jan. 15, 2016.

Allen was born on June 30, 1922, in Petersburg, Virginia, to the late James A. and Mable Harris Minetree.

In December 1942, he was sworn into the U.S. Army and attended basic training at Camp Wheeler, Georgia. After three months, he was sent as a replacement to North Africa and assigned to L Company, 16th Infantry Regiment of the First Division known as “The Big Red One.” At that time his group began training for the invasion of Sicily.

After his Sicily campaign, Allen was sent to England for seven months and again prepared for an invasion that he and his fellow infantrymen were not told about until the day of the event. The 16th Infantry Regiment of the First Division, along with the 116th Regiment of the 29th Division and certain Ranger elements were selected for the first wave to land on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944.

Although wounded in the shoulder during the D-Day invasion, Allen remained with his group, or what was left of them, through France and into Germany. He was sent stateside with “frozen feet” in February 1945. For his valor, he was awarded the Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Purple Heart with two Oak Leaf Clusters, along with the European, African, Middle Eastern Theater Campaign Ribbon with four Bronze Stars.

He married Lois Davis of Leesburg, Florida, on Jan. 31, 1947, and in September of that year entered the School of Forestry at the University of Florida. Following graduation in 1951, he began work with the State of Virginia Forestry Service and was assigned to Charlottesville. He was hired by Camp Manufacturing Company nine months later and moved his family to Emporia, where they lived for three years and then Henderson, North Carolina, for 10 years. He was promoted to Chief Conservation Forester and moved to Franklin in 1964.

In his capacity as Chief Conservation Forester, Allen oversaw the replanting of pine forests, did a lot of public relations work, conducted tours and participated in the Tree Farm Program providing seedlings to schools and other organizations.

He served on the City of Franklin Beautification Commission and was chairman from 1982-1988. During his tenure on the commission he was responsible for planting trees throughout Franklin and helped earn the designation as Tree City USA.

He often said his biggest accomplishment was helping found the 4-H Center in Wakefield. Through his work at Union Camp, he suggested donating land at the Airfield Mill Pond near Wakefield in Sussex County for a new facility. The center opened in 1981, and for his efforts Allen received the 4-H Meritorious Service Plaque. He remained an active participant with the 4-H organization even after his retirement from Union Camp in 1987. He served as Buildings and Grounds Committee chairman and a member of its Board of Directors from the beginning and president of the Board for one term.

Allen was also an active member of American Legion Post 73 from 1971 until his passing and served as commander from 1989-1992.

Allen served as credit committee member at Bronco Federal Credit Union in the 1960s and 1970s before there was a loan officer, attended the coffee club at Fred’s Restaurant and was an avid golfer once achieving a hole-in-one on a course in Greensboro.

He was a longtime member of Franklin Baptist Church where he served as a deacon, Sunday School teacher and song leader for the Bruner Bible Sunday School Class.

He was an active community participant, kind Christian, loving family man and war hero. He attended the ceremony in Bedford, Virginia, for the D-Day Memorial dedication on June 6, 2001, with his family and was treated with great dignity. He also participated in an Honor Flight event to Washington, D.C., on Oct. 16, 2010, with other WWII veterans from the Tidewater area.

Allen was predeceased by his son, James Allen Minetree III, and by his brother, Thomas B. Minetree.

He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Lois D. Minetree of the home; daughter, Ann M. Shuler (Bob) of Mebane, North Carolina, and their son, James A. Shuler of Carrboro, North Carolina; daughter, Lucy M. Wallace of Manteo, North Carolina, and her daughter, Courtney D. Wallace of Raleigh; two granddaughters in Houston, Texas, Ashley M. Key and Alexandria Minetree; two sisters, Catherine M. Gaffney of Greensboro, North Carolina, and Betty M. Dauscher (Ray) of Chardon, Ohio; brother, Steve Davis (Carol) of Lake Pannasoffkee, Florida.; three precious great-granddaughters, Charlotte, Emma and Molly Key, and their grandmother, Betty Minetree Whitaker, who was married to his son, and her husband, Bruce Whitaker of Houston; numerous nephews, nieces, great-nephews and nieces; and many friends and colleagues.

The family would like to thank all who worked as caregivers for Allen. Their patience and TLC was a blessing. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to: Airfield 4-H Center, 15189 Airfield Road, Wakefield, VA 23888 in his honor.

The private graveside burial will be at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 20, in Poplar Spring Cemetery. The open celebration of life service, with military honors, will follow at 11 a.m. in the Franklin Baptist Church sanctuary by the Rev. Steve Gibson. Friends are invited to a reception afterward in the church fellowship hall.

Wright Funeral Home is handling arrangements.