Colonel (retired) John Lee Lillibridge Jr. died in hospice the morning of June 19, 2020, after a debilitating stroke ended his 95-plus years of life.
John was born in Dover in 1924 where he lived with his older sister June and twin sister Jeanette.
Despite the omnipresent winds of the Dust Bowl, John enjoyed his childhood of swimming in the Cimarron River, playing baseball and learning to hunt – a pastime that he enjoyed the rest of his life.
John enlisted in the U.S. Army just as World War II was coming to an end. After a few years working in intelligence in England, France and Germany, John returned to Oklahoma and got his mechanical engineering degree from Oklahoma A&M.
There, he met a “pretty girl with long black hair” – Audrey Hart, who he married in 1948.
John was deployed to Korea shortly thereafter, where he worked in the Corps of Engineers laying bridges (and often subsequently destroying them).
A year after his return to the States, John and Audrey welcomed their son, John Lee Lillibridge III, in 1954. He also received a second bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Texas A&M.
John’s Army career took the family across nearly all 50 states as well as Germany and he served another overseas tour in Vietnam in 1965.
Whenever he could, John returned to Oklahoma to hunt quail and later turkeys.
“No man more enjoyed the chase of the wild geese and the companionship of his fellow hunters,” wrote John in his memoirs. Indeed, he chased birds from Canada to Argentina, braving harsh conditions at the crack of dawn to crouch in a quiet hunting blind.
John’s other great passion was genealogy. With help from his relatives, he compiled a book called “Lillibridges of the World,” tracing the family history from the first Lillibridge to cross from England to Rhode Island in the late 1600s.
John organized Lillibridge reunions for his extended family every three years, all over the United States, starting in 1982.
When his grandchildren were born, he prepared each of them a list of their direct ancestors going back 91 generations.
John, affectionately known as “G’Pa,” also did his best to impart unto his grandchildren the most important things in life: love of the outdoors, love of family, soft-shoe dance routines and childhood advertising jingles.
John is survived by his wife Audrey, his son John Lee III, daughter-in-law Linda Stathoplos, granddaughter Judy and grandson John Lee IV, as well as many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
John’s ashes will be scattered at some of his favorite places around the world, with the remainder to be buried in the Dover Cemetery.
Funeral arrangements have been made by De Vol Funeral Home in Gaithersburg, Md.
A memorial web page is available on their site: https://devolfuneralhome.com/Funeral-Services-and-Obituaries-in-Maryland.
No memorial service will be held at this time. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating in his memory to the Asbury Methodist Village Foundation (http://www.asbury.org/foundation/asbury-methodist-village) or the National World War II Museum (https://www.nationalww2museum.org/give).
“The Colonel” is gone, but his legacy lives on. We are all so blessed to have had him in our lives.