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Col. Eldon R. Dilworth

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012 5:48 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012 7:44 a.m. CDT

SAC CITY, Iowa — Col. Eldon Russell Dilworth, 78, of Sac City, Iowa, formerly of Adair, Ill., passed away at his home in Sac City on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012.

Eldon was born Aug. 22, 1934, to James and Helen (Miner) Dilworth at Table Grove, Ill. He was baptized and confirmed at Table Grove Community Church in Table Grove, Ill., and was a member of the United Methodist Church in Sac City.

He attended Table Grove country school and graduated from Adair High School in 1952. He went on to college graduating from Western Illinois University at Macomb, Ill., in 1954 and completed his bachelor's degree in agriculture from the University of Illinois (1959-1961). In 1965, he earned his master's degree in agronomy.

Colonel Dilworth enlisted in the Marine Corps in March 1953 and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and designated a Naval Aviator on July 11, 1956. He served with VMF (AW)-531st  Gray Ghosts and H&S-24 at Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, N.C., until July 1962. At this time, he transferred to the Marine Corps Reserve and served with VMA-611, Naval Air Station, Glenview, Ill., as Flight Line Officer and Squadron Pilot. In March 1969, he became a member of HML-776 and served as Avionics officer.

In subsequent years, Colonel Dilworth served at various assignments with VMA-124, Naval Air Station, Memphis, Tenn.; 7th Staff Group, Lambert Field, St. Louis, Mo., and with the 4th Marine Division.

Colonel Dilworth assumed command of Marine Wing Communications Squadron-4B on Nov. 7, 1981, and commanded the Squadron through Operation Phantom Fox at Cherry Point, N.C. and Operation High Sky at Marine Corps Air Station, Yuma, Ariz.

Eldon served his country in the United States Marine Corp for 33 years and also served in the United States Navy for four years. He began his career in 1953 serving with the 531st Gray Ghosts as a pilot and earning the rank of Colonel on May 1, 1983.

One of his special honors was the Fighting Leather Neck Award for 33 years of service to the USMC. He was transferred to Retired Reserve Oct. 1, 1986 and retired from reserves Jan. 29, 1988.

Eldon was married to Jean Cotter and they were blessed with two children, Doug and Sondra.

Eldon was proud to be the first Agronomist to work closely with the Amish in Missouri. He was also employed as an Agronomist by ISU, Ames, working on the Newell Allee Farm and at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo. He retired in 2001.

He had many personal interests, including horses, flying, hunting, fishing, traveling and reading (especially history books and westerns). He was an avid rock hound and collector belonging to Macomb, Ill., Rock Club. He enjoyed being a “go-fer” carrying rocks to the truck.

He was involved with community events as a Volunteer Fire Fighter, 55 year member of the Mason’s as a member of  the Newell Masonic Lodge, Newell, Iowa, Vermont Masonic Lodge, Vermont, Ill., and Colony Masonic Lodge, Colony, Mo. He also served as a member of the board at Table Grove Community Church, school board member in Macomb, Ill., editor of the Marine Squadron Grey Ghost News Letter and enjoyed attending U.S. Marine Corp social activities.

On Dec. 27, 1992, Eldon was united in marriage to Sandra Naydene Zemke at Colony, Mo. His family grew with the addition of Sandra’s children: Jason and Cassandra.

Those left to cherish his memory include his wife, Sandi Dilworth of Sac City; son Dr. Doug Dilworth of Charlotte, N.C., and daughter Sondra (Chad) Brown of Brighton, Ill.; step-son Jason (Erin) Ballou of Newell; step-daughter Cassandra Ballou of Newell; four step-grandchildren, Wyatt, Mackenzie, Grace, and Bryce Ballou of Newell; and extended family members.

Eldon was preceded in death by his parents, James and Helen Dilworth; brother, Eugene Dilworth; and sister, Harriett Dilworth Slack.

Memorial services will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, at the United Methodist Church in Sac City under the direction of the Farber & Otteman Funeral Home of Sac City.

Memorial services will be held at 11 a.m. Feb. 16, 2013, at Table Grove Community Church in Table Grove, Ill.

A private inurnment will be held at the Harris Cemetery in Table Grove, Ill., at a later date.

Memorial contributions will be directed to the Alzheimer’s Association out of Fort Dodge, Iowa.

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