GRANITEVILLE/WEST SWANTON — Lt. Col. James Alan Partridge (USAF Retired) died on Feb. 8, 2014 at Franklin County Rehab in St. Albans with his daughter and son-in-law by his side. He was 98 years old.
Alan was born on Oct. 2, 1915 in Washington, Vt., the oldest child of J. Arthur and Ruth (Hood) Partridge. He attended schools in Michigan and E. Barre, VT and graduated from Spaulding High School in 1933. He worked for Jackson Dairy, delivering milk by day and continuing his studies by night, and pursued his love of flying by getting his pilot’s license. He successfully completed the program in St. Johnsbury for non-college applicants to become aviation cadets and passed the College Competitive Exam in 1941. He was called into the US Army Air Corps in January 1942 right after the Pearl Harbor attack. He married Isabel Anne MacLeod of Graniteville on Nov. 28, 1942, in Sacramento, Calif.
During World War II, Alan faithfully served his country in northern Africa and Italy as a navigator on B-25’s in the 12th Air Force and B-17’s and B-24’s in the 15th Air Force. He flew 75 top secret missions on low level flights to drop areas in occupied Europe. Flying alone and unescorted and under the cover of night, their mission was to drop spies, saboteurs, and military supplies to assist and develop underground resistance. Alan’s job was to guide the aircraft unnoticed through perilous mountain passes and drop their load over the center of three bonfires. For his exemplary service, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with 11 oak clusters, the WWII Victory Metal, the European Theatre ribbon with six battle stars, and the Red Star from Yugoslavia’s Tito.
Alan and Isabel lived in Wiesbaden, Germany from 1946-1949 as part of the Army of Occupation. In 1950 they were transferred to Ft. Worth, Texas where their only child, Tootie, was born and Alan served as radar navigator in the B-36’s. Alan spent the summer of 1955 in Morocco. They were also stationed in Alabama where he attended Staff and Command School, California, and Massachusetts, where he was radar navigator in the B-52’s. He never wanted to fly a desk. He retired in 1965 and moved with Isabel and Tootie to Graniteville, Vt.
Alan taught Industrial Arts at Montpelier High School from 1966-72. He was a member of the Graniteville Presbyterian Church and served as elder for many years. He was an active member of Friendship Forum and assisted with many church projects.
Alan always loved to fly. His first plane was a two-seater Swift and his last plane was a Beechcraft Bonanza. He flew his family and friends to many places, landing on the beach at Matagorda Island, in a hay field in Graniteville, and on the ice on Lake Champlain. He could navigate by instruments or simply by the stars in the sky.
Spending time at his camp on Lake Champlain in West Swanton was one of his greatest joys. There, surrounded by family and friends, he and Isabel spent 51 summers tending to the garden, water-skiing, swimming, and boating. Papa Alan especially enjoyed being with his two grandsons of whom he was very proud, and later, with his three great-grandchildren, taking them for tractor rides, making homemade ice cream, and sharing his Sunday night supper of popcorn and milk.
He also enjoyed living in Graniteville in a home which he and Isabel designed and built themselves in 1976 on part of her family farm. He and brothers-in law Jimmy and Leslie had much fun together on construction projects, repair jobs, making maple syrup, and pressing apples into cider. Alan maintained his rich sense of humor throughout his life. We miss him so much.
Alan leaves a daughter, Ruth Partridge Roy (whom he always called Tootie) and her husband, Ray, of Swanton; two grandsons: Christopher of Philadelphia, Pa.; and Jeffrey and his wife, Heather, and their children, Danah, Matthew, and Katie all of Rochester, N.H.; his sister Mildred Bicknell of Newport, Vt.; and many nieces and nephews, including a very special nephew, L. John MacLeod Jr. of Graniteville. He was predeceased by his beloved wife of 68 years; brothers Larry, Maurice, and Max; and all of his in-laws.
The Roy family would like to express our sincere appreciation to the entire staff of Franklin County Rehab Center for their professional and compassionate care of Alan for the past two years.
There will be no calling hours. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. at the Graniteville Presbyterian Church on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014. A committal service at the Wilson Cemetery will be held in the spring at the family’s convenience. For those who wish, contributions in Alan’s memory may be made to the Graniteville Presbyterian Church, c/o Lynn Murray, P.O. Box 24, Graniteville, VT 05654. Hooker and Whitcomb Funeral Home, 7 Academy St. Barre, is in charge of the arrangements.