Jackie “Jack” Gettis Rickard – retired U.S. Air Force Major and pilot; former stockbroker; redeemed Christian; beloved husband, father, and grandfather – entered peacefully into eternity May 25, 2017. Born Feb. 15, 1929, in Marion Center, Jack was raised by his grandparents. Upon graduating from high school, he attended IUP, then joined the U.S. Navy. In 1951, he joined the Air Force, where he made his career.
On Jan. 6, 1950, Jack married the woman of his dreams, Martha Emmaline Waltz, and together they had two sons, James (“Jim”) in 1953 and John in 1956. The family was stationed across the country – including in Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, Missouri, and Virginia – and in the Philippines. During his time in the Air Force, Jack served in Korea, Vietnam, and Germany. He was also personal pilot to Gen. William Westmoreland and flew touring USO celebrities, including Ann-Margaret and Martha Rae. A favorite memory of his was spending an hour at a bar in Vietnam with actor Jimmy Stewart, reminiscing about friends from back home in Indiana.
Upon retiring from the Air Force, Jack became a stockbroker and later a commercial/instrument-rated pilot. He and Martha lived in Phoenix, AZ; Albuquerque, NM; and Erie, PA; finally returning to Indiana County for retirement. In their spare time, Jack and Martha enjoyed traveling to Alaska, Canada, Las Vegas, the Caribbean, and Europe. He loved to fly and owned six planes at different times, keeping four of them at the Jimmy Stewart Airport.
He loved singing and Big Band music and played saxophone for various bands, starting when he was 12. He knew how to whip up a tasty meal and shared his cooking expertise with others. He and Martha enjoyed camping at “The Outback,” his family’s country property in Grant Township. In his later years, he enjoyed online poker and Skyping with family and friends.
Jack was a lifetime member of the American Legion and VFW. He was also an active member and deacon at Tetelestai Church in New Kensington, where he enjoyed the intense focus on Bible study. More importantly, he lived a life of Christian love and redemption, willing to learn and teach others about God’s Word and His Salvation through Jesus Christ.
Jack loved a good joke, a good drink, and a good pig roast. He was often the life of the party, known for his rapier wit and quick sense of humor. So charming and quick to make friends was he, that he and Martha once invited 20 new friends into their train compartment for a party during a cross-Canada trip. He had life-long friends throughout the U.S. and other countries.
He is survived by Martha, his wife of 67 years; sons James E. (Jean Ammerman) and John; grandchildren Elizabeth (Josh Glacken), James L., and Lauren (Kels Humphrey); and great-grandchildren Cora, Gabriella, and Luke. He was preceded in death by his parents, Earl and Grace (Thomas); stepmother, Dorothy (Gray); and brother, James B.
A memorial service is planned for 2 p.m. Tuesday, June 6, at Grace Methodist Church in Indiana. Donations can be made to the Visiting Nurse Association of Indiana County: 850 Hospital Road, Suite 3000; Indiana, PA 15701.
The Rickard Family is being assisted by the Rairigh-Bence Funeral Home of Indiana where online condolences may be made at rbfh.net .