Gifford, John J (Jack) Jr
From Central Park Historical Society Encyclopedia
December 24, 1919 - July 14, 2006
Jack was born on Christmas Eve, 1919, to John J. Gifford and Bertha M. Weaver. He was the older brother to their only other child, Mildred (Jaisle). He attended Central Park (now Bethpage) School and was Salutatorian of his Junior High School Class. He also attended the SUNY College at Farmingdale, NY, graduating with the class of 1939, pursuing an early interest in forestry until the "aviation bug" hit him.
During WWII, he was a Naval Aviation Cadet, training in Bunker Hill, Indiana and Pensacola, Florida flying the N2S-4 "Stearman." He received an Honorable discharge from the Navy after a severe ear enjury prevented him from continuing further in the naval aviation program. Through his personal hopes of piloting aircraft were dampened, his interest and enthusiasm for aviation in general never suffered. After working for the A&P for a short time, he became employed by Grumman Aircraft, where his father, John J. Gifford, Sr., had worked. In 1946, he joined American Airlines working in various capacities at Laguardia Airport and then at the AA office building in downtown NYC. Jack retired as a Director of Purchasing from American Airlines in 1979, having spent 33 years helping to improve the ground servicing of aircraft and passenger amenities. He was largely responsible for bringing in-flight entertainment to the aviation industry, working with Disney and Bell & Howell on movie and music technology. Jack enjoyed aviation history, was a World War II aircraft buff (especially interested in the various Grumman airplanes such as the Wildcat, Bearcat and Hellcat), and probably attended hundreds of airshows over the years throughout the country. There weren't many planes flying overhead that he didn't put his eyes on and identify correctly. If he could have been anything he wanted to be, he would have been an airplane.
In 1946, he married Mildred Sophia Finck of Bellmore, NY and settled down in a house originally built by Mildred's father for her grandmother and uncle. Jack and Mildred renovated the house over the years and watched the surrounding area develop substantially. In 1957, they had a son, their only child, John J. Gifford III. Jack and Mildred (and their son) enjoyed many happy moments together until Mildred passed away from cancer in September 1975 at the age of 50.
Jack remained at his Bellmore home after retirement, involving himself in many community activities (he often said he was busier in retirement then he ever was working). He was a member of the local school board, and a Commissioner of the North Bellmore - North Merrick Little League. Jack immensely enjoyed his association with the Farmingdale-Bethpage Historical Society, the Central Park Historical Society, the SUNY College at Farmingdale Alumni Association, and the Long Island Early Fliers Club to name a few. He also enjoyed visiting his sister Mildred and her husband Richard Jaisle at their beach house at Gilgo Beach.
He had a passion for computers and after buying one of the very first personal models available, he often found himself involved in developing programs well into the nighttime hours. He became very computer-savvy and had a great interest in the internet and often used it to research many of his interests (especially history and aviation).
After suffering what seemed to be a mild heart attack in 2001, while visiting with his son, he had a quadruple by-pass and decided that it would be a good time for him to move from Long Island to Frewsburg, NY whre his son, daughter-in-law Emilie, and three grandchildren (Chelsea, Regan and Gus) lived. Though he had his own house in Frewsburg, he spent a lot of time with his family, attending many scholastic and sporting events involving his grandchildren, and had dinner with his son's family almost every night. He often came prepared each night with internet research to answer questions that came up around the dinner table the night before.
In 2005, Jack had a patch of skin removed from his right ear which turned out to be cancerous; unfortunately, the cancer had spread through his lymphatic system and after bravely facing the pain of both chemo and radiation threatments, decided that the cure was worse then the disease. He spent his last few months with his son and son's family, and passed away peacefully at 8:35 pm, on Friday, July 14, 2006. He was a terrific father, son, brother, grandfather and friend, and will be forever missed. Godspeed, Jack Gifford!!!
Information from the brochure, "An Historicial Walk" A walking tour of Bethpage originated by Jack Gifford as he personally guided the tour on Sunday, June 5, 1988, and the tour was repeated with the Farmingdale-Bethpage and Central Park Historical Societies, Sunday, October 14, 2007.
AV Cadet, V5 USNR U.S. Navy 9/29/42 - 2/14/44
Honorable discharge by reason of medical survey for physical disability incurred in line of duty.
Trained in Siena College, Watervliet, N. Y. (A) Univ. North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C. (B) NAS, Bunker Hill, Indiana (C) NATC Pensacola, Fl.
(A) CAP-WTS Pre-flight and Cubs (B) Pre-flight School (C) Flight Training
- This page was last modified on 3 November 2013, at 17:46.
- This page has been accessed 796 times.