Harry R. Oakley Jr., 79, of Avon Park, Florida, passed away on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. He was born on Dec. 15, 1937, in Byesville, Ohio, a son of the late Harry R. Oakley, Sr and Doris (Peyton) Oakley. He was a 1955 graduate of Cambridge High School, Ohio and attended Muskingum College before entering the U.S. Air Force in 1958. Harry and Mildred (Casterline) were married on June 12, 1960 at the Beckett Avenue United Methodist Church in Cambridge, Ohio.
Harry was a highly decorated U.S. Air Force veteran. His military career included the Ohio Air National Guard and the U.S. Air Force Reserves, where he attained the rank of Chief Master Sergeant (CMSGT). In the 1970s, he served as a lay minister at the Middlebourne United Methodist Church, Ohio. His assignments were spread across the United States and included a total of six years duty overseas. Having served his country faithfully and honorably for 35 years, CMSGT Harry R. Oakley, Jr. retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1993. Upon retirement, Harry and Mildred moved to Avon Park, and Harry worked at the Avon Park Air Force Range with base operations. On May 29, 2008, he was recognized for 12 years of outstanding and dedicated service with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the State of Florida. Harry’s passion was serving others, especially veterans. He served as past president, Veterans Advisory Board of Highlands County for the Board of County Commission; past president, Veterans Council of Highlands County; past commander, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Chapter 49 Ridge, Sebring, and chairman, Florida Medal of Honor Memorial. On Feb. 20, 2016, Harry was the recipient of the Veterans Council of Highlands County “2015 Veteran of the Year” Award.
Harry enjoyed family time, traveling to visit family and friends, reading, and walking his dogs. He was a member in good standing in the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Ohio, Guernsey Lodge No. 66, Cambridge, for 58 years. He was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend. He is deeply loved by all and he will be dearly missed.
In addition to his parents, Harry was preceded in death by his grandson, Mitchell Oakley. He is survived by his beloved wife, Mildred, of 57 years of marriage, and his children, Michael (Terri Selsor) of Geneva, Kathryn of Herndon, Virginia, Patrick (Laura) of Chandler, Arizona, and Byron (Heather) of Avon Park; brothers, Robert (Judy) Oakley and Pete (Sandy) Oakley, both of Kipling, Ohio; sisters, Joyce Lucas of Cambridge, Ohio, and Patricia (Bob) Wilhelm of Byesville, Ohio; many nieces and nephews, nine grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, and many friends who will miss him.
Visitation will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 at Stephenson-Nelson Funeral Home, 111 E. Circle St., Avon Park, FL 33825. Personal condolences may be extended to the family at www.stephensonnelsonfh.com. Following visitation hours, a “Celebration of Life” will be held at 3 p.m. at the V.F.W. Post 4300, 1041 Lakeview Ave., Sebring, FL, 33870. The family suggests, in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Harry’s memory to (1) Florida Medal of Honor Memorial, 6223 U.S. 27 North PMB 16, Sebring, FL 33870 or (2) Veterans Council of Highlands County Inc., 7209 S. George Blvd., Sebring, FL 33875.
Harry will be laid to rest in Guernsey County Memory Gardens, Cambridge, Ohio.