GIFFORD — Leroy O. Hensley, 96, of Gifford, formerly of Rantoul, died at 12:55 a.m. Monday, Aug. 12, 2019, at Country Health Nursing Home in Gifford.
Visitation will be from 10 to 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 16, at Baier Family Funeral Services, 406 E. Pells St., Paxton, with Masonic rites at 11 a.m. Burial will follow in Maplewood Cemetery in Rantoul with military honors by Rantoul American Legion Post 287.
Surviving are two daughters, Linette Albers of Rantoul and Deborah Hensley of LaPorte, Ind.; a grandson, Todd (Angie) Albers of St. Joseph; two sisters-in-law, Ann Knach of Hoffman Estates and Margaret Cornwell of Georgetown; and nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Mary Catherine; two sons-in-law, Duane Albers and Faustino Hernandez; a sister, Winifred Mae; and a brother, Harmon Oliver.
Mr. Hensley was born Sept. 10, 1922, at home in Westville, the third child to Olin Vern and Hazel Cravens Hensley. He attended first grade in Westville, and his parents sold the family home and bought land east of Westville. He then attended a one-room school (Jenkins) and often bragged that he was never worse than second in his class for six years. There were only two in his class.
Upon graduation, he attended Westville High School. He played in the orchestra and band for four years and was drum major his senior year. He was also in the chorus, plays and debating team, and he was chosen for the school’s honor society (Owls) his junior and senior years. While in high school, he met Mary Wargo, and it was love at first sight for both of them.
Upon graduation, he attended Danville Business School for four months and was then employed by the Vermilion County Highway Department for one year.
He was then hired by the Army Air Force at Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul. In November 1942, he entered the active Air Force and after basic and technical training was assigned to Santa Anna Army Air Base. He returned home in 1943, and while on leave he and Mary were married on Aug. 14, 1943.
While there, he worked as a supervisory administrative inspector. During his last year, he instituted and supervised the creation of the base archives, which involved selecting historical documents from base organizations to be retained as a record and history of the squadrons, groups, headquarters, training and other activities in preparation of the inactivation of the installation.
He then transferred to Camp Pinedale in California as part of a cadre being formed to go into the South Pacific. Camp Pinedale was a former detention camp for Japanese families interred by the U.S. after the Pearl Harbor attack. While there, the war with Japan ended and he was transferred to Gowen Field in Boise, Idaho, to assist in organizing and operating a separation center for personnel being discharged. He was discharged in November 1945.
He then returned to employment at Chanute Air Force Base. After five years at Chanute, he transferred to Parks Air Force Base in Pleasanton, Calif., to assist in the organization of logistics activities. After five years, he returned to Chanute as the M&S group material officer. He received the Air Force Commendation Medal for his management of Secretary McNamara’s’ cost reduction program. Chanute had the best and most productive program of installations of similar size. He then received another Air Force commendation medal for his accomplishments as chief of the logistic division of the Resource Management Group. He eventually retired as chief of the plans and programs division in 1980.
Mr. Hensley was active in Rantoul functions. He was a member of the committee that wrote the first village zoning ordinance and served on the zoning appeals board for several years, most of them as chairman.
He was past master of the local Masonic lodge, served as governor of the Rantoul Moose Lodge, and was district vice president and a member of the state board for 12 years, serving as state membership chair and attaining the Honorary Pilgrim degree, which is the highest degree in the Moose.
He was president of the East Central Illinois chapter of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees for many years. He served on the state board for 11 years as district vice ptesident, second vice president and state membership chairman.
He was also a member of the Rantoul American Legion Post 287, an AAU swimming official from 1953 to 1955 and officiated Pan-American tryouts at Mare Island, Calif., from 1954 to 1955.
His biggest pride was his family. He dearly loved his precious wife of 70 years, Mary Catherine Wargo, and his daughters Linette and Deborah and his grandson, Todd. He enjoyed family get-togethers.
The family would like to thank the staff, especially Sarge and Gomer, at Country Health Nursing Home for their kindness and compassionate care.
Memorials may be made to an organization of the donor’s choice.
Condolences may be offered at www.baierfuneralservices.com.