Jack Langham passed away at his home in Humble, Texas on Friday, October 30, 2020, at the age of 98. Jack was born in Chickasha, Oklahoma on September 14, 1922, to Raleigh A. and Mary Bricie Langham.
At about five years of age, the Langham family moved to Vernon, Texas because Jack’s father accepted a job with Humble Oil and Refining Company as an oil field operator. Jack described their family home in Vernon as a two-room single-walled shack with dirt floors that they laid linoleum over.
Less than a year later, the family moved to Kilgore, Texas when Jack’s father was transferred to the East Texas oil fields. They were assigned a plot of company land to be used by them until Raleigh quit or died. The company provided lumber for them to build a house and each time the family had another child, more lumber was dropped off to allow them to add a room.
Life in the 1920s and ’30s was hard, but the Langham family had a better situation than many, thanks to Raleigh’s job. Jack was also very industrious. At twelve years old, Jack had acquired five paper routes and proudly said he earned as much money as many grown men. He helped buy food for the family and bought his own clothes and other things he wanted.
For a short time while about fourteen years old, Jack worked as general labor and clean-up person in a local bar. He stated that while working there he saw so many people get into trouble and spend money they could not afford, acting foolish and irresponsibly that he made a life-long commitment to never be like that. He rarely drank alcohol as a result.
Jack graduated from Kilgore High School in 1939 and took various construction jobs until he enlisted in the United States Army in October 1942. Jack volunteered for airborne service because he had read an article in a magazine about paratroopers and wanted to be a member of the toughest and best -trained group possible. He attended airborne basic training at Camp Blanding, FL., then advanced training in North Carolina at Camp Mackall. Jack’s progress was interrupted and delayed at Blanding because he broke his leg during jump training and spent several weeks in the hospital. He was re-assigned from the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment to the 501st PIR to complete his training. Jack’s leg apparently did not heal properly, and he suffered pain in it periodically for the rest of his life.
In January 1944, Jack, as part of G Company, 501st PIR was shipped overseas to England and on June 5-6, 1944, parachuted into France on the peninsula of Normandy. Jack spent approximately three weeks in intense combat before being wounded by mortar shrapnel and evacuated to England to recover. By the time Jack fully recovered, the war in Europe was essentially over. He spent a short period as a guard for German prisoners, then was processed for shipment to the Pacific in anticipation of the expected invasion of Japan. Victory in the Pacific occurred before the shipment began, so Jack was shipped home and discharged.
Immediately after the war ended, Jack attended LeTourneau Technical College (later LeTourneau University) in Longview, Texas where he studied metal trades (welding, pipefitting, fabrication). After finishing his studies there, Jack took various trade jobs, primarily welding, and enjoyed a successful construction career until he retired in 1982.
In retirement, Jack enjoyed learning to use the computer and stock trading, which he did until he was 93 and his vision failed him. He looked forward to coffee and Oreo thins each morning, with a snack (or two) of Snickers ice cream bars when he could sneak them in.
Jack was preceded in death by his parents; and his brothers Arvern, Odell, Benton, and Billie Dee; and his brother-in-law Robert (R.O.) Scott. He was married three times and outlived all his wives; Ruth Hildebrand (married three years), Milda Mae Henderson (married 32 years), and Lois Wooldridge (married 27 years).
He is survived by his sister, Beulah Scott (104 years old) of Bay City; his son Gary and wife Debbie of Humble, son Dale and wife Pamela of Katy; grandson Jared and wife Kayla of Dayton, granddaughter Courtney Guest and husband Kenneth of Crosby, grandson Brad and wife Michele of Liberty Hill, grandson David and wife Thacia of Livingston, granddaughter Stephanie of Humble, grandson Jeff and wife Yoko of Humble, grandson Daniel and wife Megan of Katy; sixteen great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews. Jack was astonished that his family grew to the size it did. He said he felt every year after 1944 was a bonus year and he was grateful for the blessings he had in his life.
A special thank you to the nurses and staff of Harbor Hospice, Kaitlin, Morgan, Shaneeta, Marshall, and Shanna. Heartfelt gratitude to caregiver, Jenifer Johnson. The support and care from all of you was so helpful.
Friends are invited to visit with the family beginning at 10am, on Tuesday, November 3, 2020, in the chapel of Sterling Funeral Home, 602 N. Main Street in Dayton. A funeral service will follow in the chapel at 11am. A graveside service and committal will immediately follow in Palms Memorial Park Cemetery, 2421 SH-146 in Dayton.
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