I was born in Lubbock, Texas on the Sth of March, 1943, the second child of Robert and Daisy Leverett. My sister, Kelly, who was two at the time was born March 11, 1941. At the time of my birth we lived alone with my mother, since Dad, as so many others, was away in World War II. I was two before I ever saw my father, and it took some time of adjusting before I could accept having “that man” around all the time. Thanks to my sister’s preoccupation with Dagwood and Blondie, I was stuck with the name Cooky, and it took me 35 years to shake it.
We lived in Texas until 1947, then moved to Illinois, the home of some of Dad’s Marine buddies. Manteno, Illinois was, and is, a small, farming-oriented town, about 50 miles south of Chicago. Growing up in Manteno was relatively untroubled, since we were too small to share in the problems of urban life, yet close enough to a major city to enjoy selected parts of urban culture.
Dad worked in a number of different jobs during our child hood and teen years, including a lumberyard, the Illinois Central railroad, the Joliet Army Ammunition Plant, and a long stint as a local policeman and deputy sheriff. Mom also worked a good portion of the time. Most of her work was as a prac tical nurse in a local hospital, and a psychiatric aide in the Illinois State Hospital. We lived in a number of different houses, but never away from Manteno itself. During a signifi cant portion of our growing up, our home was shared by our maternal grandmother, Sadie Beaver. Her gentle influence was a highpoint of life in the Leverett household.
Both Kelly and I were successful in school activities, with most of my efforts going into sports, and Kelly’s into music, we each managed to graduate as valedictorians of our Manteno High School classes, Kelly in 1959 and I in 1961. Our brother, Terry Doyle, was born in 1959, and he also spent his school years in Manteno. His forte was music and theater, which has remained his lifelong vocation.
Kelly attended the University of Illinois, where she met and married Dr. Robert Bishop. She and Robert returned to his boyhood home, Pittston, Pennsylvania, where Kelly graduated from Juniata College with a degree in music. They have two children, Danie 21, and Devon 13, both fulltime college students.
I had intended to follow Kelly to the University of Illinois, but that intent was sidetracked, when on June 29, 1961, I was notified that I had been appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point by the Academic Board. I had only five days in which to report to West Point, and that frantic scurry set the tone for the next four years. The first year at the Academy was an exercise in pain and frus tration, and I was sorely tempted to chuck it in on more than one occasion. Nevertheless, since I was more fearful of failure than of the constant hazing from upperclassmen, I stuck it out and survived to become an upperclassman myself. I graduated in June of 1965, 6th in a class of 596 graduates, and was comissioned a 2d Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Ten days after graduation, I married my High School sweet heart, Colleen Owens, in Kankakee, Illinois. Both Colleen and I enrolled at the University of Illinoisi,’ she for undergrad uate study in music, and I for an Army-directed Master’s de gree in Physics. We left when I received my graduate degree, and I attended the U.S. Ranger School for a time. We then went to Ft. Hood, at Killeen, Texas, where I was stationed with the 1st Armored Division.
It was while we were at Ft. Hood that che first great tragedy of my life occurred, the birth and infant death of our son, James Edward, in late February of 1968. He was a beautiful, strong looking baby, but a serious heart and circulatory defect took his life when he was eleven days old. His loss hurt both of us deeply, and we will, no doubt, carry some of that grief always.
In August of 1968, I was sent to Vietnam for duty with the 9th Infantry Division in the Mekong Delta. My wife, pregnant with our daughter, Terri Sue, returned to the University of Illinois and resumed her studies. My Vietnam experience was no more bitter than average, but events there convinced me to leave the Army. I took an Interservice Transfer to the U.S. Air Force upon my return stateside in August, 1969. Terri Sue had been born at Chanute AFB, Illinois, on March 17, 1969, so the three of us moved out on a new life in the Air Force.
We went to Eglin AFB, Ft. Walton Beach, Florida, wnere I served as a physicist in the AF Armament Laboratory. That tour lasted only six months, since I was picked for pilot training in February of 1970. Pilot training was at Columbus AFB.,. Mississippi. We stayed there until June of 1973, where I was both student and instructor pilot. Our daughter, Tricia Colleen, was born in Columbus February 28, 1972, making our family complete.
My next tour was to Randolph AFB, San Antonio, where I flew T-39 and C-118 aircraft. While there, in early 1974, my father, Bob Leverett, died of cancer. He was buried next to our son, Jimmy, at Manteno. We stayed in San Antonio until June, 1976, then moved t.o Norfolk, Virginia, where I attended the Armed Forces Staff College. Following that six month course, we went to McChord AFB, Tacoma, Washington for three years. There, I flew, worldwide, as a C-l4l pilot in the 8th Military Airlift Sauadron, logging about a million miles of flight in over 20 countries
I then left cockpit duty for a Research and Development assignment at Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio. We settled in Middleton, Ohio, about 25 miles south of Dayton, so that Colleen could be close to her teaching job. Unfortunately, strains that had been long building in our marriage, became too great, and Colleen and I were divorced in November, 1980. She and the girls remained in Fiddletown intil June, 1982, when her marriage to a man from Collinsville, Illinois caused their relocation. Terri and Tricia are, at this time, in 10th and 7th grades, respectively, and doing just fine, in this (admittedly prejudiced) father’s opinion.
Following the divorce, I moved to Dayton, where I lived the happy life of a 1980’s bachelor. That life was disrupted by my June 1983 reassignment to Lajes Field, Azores, Portugal. The Azores are a chain of islands 900 miles off the Portuguese coast, and the social life was just about what one would expect from a group of isolated islands. While there, I was Chief of Plans and Operations for the Combined U.S. Forces in the Azores, deal ing mostly with war plans and flight operations.
I returned to Dayton and Wright-Patterson AFB in November of 1983, and am presently a Lieutenant Colonel serving as Chief of Operations and Engineering in a program office who’s main job is to find high cost operational and support problems in Air Force eauipment, both flying and ground, and to come up with ouick solutions.
About eight months ago, I met a local lady at a Dayton Ski Club meeting, and the demise of my single existence was set. I was married August 2, 1984, to the former Patricia Johnson of Centerville, Ohio. Patty is a Certified Public Accountant with a local firm, and we have a 7 year old daughter, Jeanine. We have moved into a new condominium south of Dayton, and are enjoying the challenges of beginning a new life together.
Beyond work and family, I am an avid tennis player and snow skiing fanatic, and I make up for lack of skill with en thusiasm in both areas. My life, thus far, has been interesting and rewarding, and I look forward to the new opportunities that follow my Air Force retirement. We have not decided where we will settle permanently, as that will largely be dictated by job availabilities. Based on my wide range of residences thus far, I’d be happiest back in the Pacific Northwest. Only time will tell, and hopefully, I have a lot of that left.
At this writing, all of the Leverett branch of the Beaver tree lives in Pennsylvania except for myself and my daughters. Mom moved out to join Kelly and Terry a couple of years ago, after Terry had moved east to help Kelly and Bob start a small dinner theater. They are all wrapped up in the theater game, and Terry (stage name T. Doyle) hopes to get a break on the New York stage sometime soon. Mom’s health has not been the best lately, a bout with cancer and very high blood pressure. But she’s hanging in there. Given the state of the economy and the world, fate seems to have been pretty good to all of us.