Heaven gained another old soldier when Mr. Eugene J. Pritchard, age 93, of Marion, passed away Thursday, August 15, 2019 at the home of his son in Taylorsville, KY following a period of declining health. Gene was a native of the Roaring Creek community in Avery County, a son of the late Granville and Flossie Davis Pritchard, and was born on March 10, 1926. Enlisting in the U. S. Army at the young age of 18, he was quickly baptized by fire in the harsh conditions on the Western Front at The Battle of the Bulge. He served in Patton’s 3rd Armored Division and experienced the proudest moment in life when he and his comrades liberated the Dachau concentration camp and helped turn it into a feeding station. He never forgot those poor souls and the memory of their suffering haunted Gene his entire life. He reenlisted later into the U. S. Air Force where he kept planes flying as a maintenance crew member specializing in hydraulic controls. Following his service in the military he returned home to marry the love of his life and the sainted mother of his four sons, Wilma Townsend, to whom he was married for over 62 years. Gene ultimately retired from Baxter Healthcare where he worked for over 15 years. He was an accomplished woodworker, making tables, beehives and dulcimers, among other things. A founding member of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church in Marion, Gene served his Lord there for many years. In addition to his beloved Wilma, he was preceded in death by a son, Mark Dwane Pritchard and six brothers.
Surviving are three sons, Joseph Pritchard and wife Marny of Morganton, Wade Pritchard and wife Suzanne of Taylorsville, KY and Gary Pritchard and wife Shelly of Valdese; two daughters-in-law, Cathy Pritchard of Morganton and Diane Pritchard of Marion; two sisters, Susan Owens of Sophia and Coralie Hayes of High Point; twelve grandchildren, ten great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.
A service in celebration of his life will take place on Tuesday, August 20, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. at the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church in Marion with Rev. Paul Adelgren officiating. The family will receive friends from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. prior to the service at the church. A graveside committal service with military honors provided by the U. S. Air Force will follow at 3:00 p.m. at the Cranberry Cemetery in Avery County where Gene will be laid to rest with his beloved Wilma. Flowers are acceptable and appreciated. Those desiring to make a memorial contribution in his memory are encouraged to consider Burke Hospice and Palliative Care at 1721 Enon Road, Valdese, NC 28690. Westmoreland Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements. Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.westmorelandfuneralhome.com.