O’Dean “Strech” Edwin Ballmes

O’dean “Strech” Edwin Ballmes, Captain, USAF (Retired)

November 18, 1929 – September 04, 2015

Capt. O’Dean “Stretch” Edwin Ballmes, U.S. Air Force retired, 85, died at home in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, on Friday, Sept. 4, 2015. He was born in Nisland, South Dakota, on Nov. 18, 1929. He grew up in Portland, Oregon, and was educated at Portland University until his enlistment in the U.S. Air Force.

In August of 1952 he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and earned the wings of a Radar Observer. In September of 1957 he earned the wings of a pilot and after two years in helicopters spent the rest of his career in various fighter aircraft. He served during the Korean conflict and did three combat tours in Vietnam. He was a senior pilot. His decorations included the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, Vietnamese Medal of Valor, Air Force Commendation Medal and others.

After his retirement from the Air Force in September 1971 he became a General Contractor in Fort Walton Beach. He was a member of the Air Commando Association and the Fort Walton Beach Yacht Club. He was an active racing sailor until arthritis prevented further competition.

He was preceded in death by his loving wife of 59 years, Bernadine (Beni) Ditter Ballmes and his daughter-in-law Patty (Taylor) Ballmes. Survivors include his sons, Gil H. Ballmes, Michael A Ballmes and his wife Eva-Maria (Glackemeyer) Ballmes; daughters Sydney F. (Ballmes) Werthmuller and her husband Dn. Theodore W. Werthmuller; M. Leslie (Ballmes) Bethea and her husband Arthur M. Bethea. He is also survived by his grandchildren; Sinclair, Simon, Mary, Theodore, Stacey and Gil Jr. His first great-grandchild is due Nov. 4, 2015.

Recitation of the rosary will take place during visitation from 2 to 4 p.m. at McLaughlin Mortuary, 17 Chestnut Avenue S.E., Fort Walton Beach, FL on Monday, Sept. 7, 2015. Reception to be held at the Ballmes residence, 829 Tarpon Drive, Fort Walton Beach, FL, following the viewing at 4:45 p.m.

Funeral services will be conducted at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 110 St. Mary Avenue S.W., Fort Walton Beach, FL at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015. Pall bearers will be Gil Ballmes, Mike Ballmes, Theodore W. Werthmuller, Arthur Bethea, Theodore D. Werthmuller and Donald Tweedel. Honorary Pallbearers are Blake King and Mitch Ditter. Burial will be at Barrancas National Cemetery, 1 Cemetery Road, Pensacola, FL, on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015 at 12:30 p.m.

In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to the American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, www.stjude.org. For online condolences, please visit www.Mclaughlinmortuary.com.

Published by Northwest Florida Daily News on Sep. 6, 2015.

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