Wallace "Wally" James Elstonage 92, of New Bedford, formerly of Stone Ridge, NY, NCVA and NCVA New England member, passed away suddenly at his residence on Monday, March 23, 2009. He was the husband of the late Gloria (Mayes) Elston.
Born in Kingston, NY, on August 9, 1916, he was the son of the late Tom F. and Mary (Cusdin) Elston. Raised and educated in Ulster County, NY, Mr. Elston worked as a mechanic until his enlistment in the United States Navy in 1939.
Mr. Elston served in the United States Navy for 20 years. Stationed in Panama at the outbreak of World War II, his service on mine sweepers took him across the Pacific and onto Japan. He would jokingly tell his family that while he was in the Navy during the war, he never "saw" any action as his responsibilities lay in the engine room. Mr. Elston also served during the Korean War where his unit received a Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation. Mr. Elston served with the Naval Security Group in Cheltenham, MD., Adak, Alaska, Dupont, SC, Kami Seya, Japan, Wahiawa, Hawaii and Winter Harbor, Maine and remained in the Navy until 1959 when he transferred to the Navy Reserve. Among other awards, he earned a National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal and Navy Occupation Service Medal with Asia Clasp.
After Mr. Elston retired from the Navy, he settled in Stone Ridge with his wife Gloria and their six children. He took on the position of Head Custodian with the Rondout Valley School District and remained at that job for the next 20 years.
Following his retirement from the school district, he and his wife Gloria took up traveling. With good friends at their side, they drove from New York to Fairbanks, AK and crisscrossed the country several times. He also enjoyed fishing, golfing and bowling.
In April 2008, he came to New Bedford to live with his daughter. This delighted him because he was able to visit the Newport Naval Station where he went to boot camp in 1939.
Mr. Elston is survived by his children, Wallace J. Elston, Jr. of Myrtle Beach, SC, Anthony W. Elston of Bellingham, WA, Charles E. Elston of NC, Sharon L. Elston of New Bedford, Alan R. Elston of Charlotte, NC, and Thomas F. Elston of Staffordville, NY. He was the brother of the late Gwendolyn Walling, Florence Orr and Robert F. Elston. He is also survived by 12 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
A memorial service was held on May 16, 2009 at 2:00 PM at the Benton Bar Cemetery in Kyserike, NY.
Gifts in his name may be made to the Veterans Transition House, 20 Willis Street, New Bedford, Massachusetts, 02740 (www.vetshouse.org).
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