Army veteran, deputy fire chief ‘just showed you how to live’

Jack Williamson, 95, became a U.S. Merchant Marine when he was 16.

MIDDLETOWN — Jack Williamson was determined, even if he had to lie, to serve his country and his community.

He became a U.S. Merchant Marine when he was 16, lied about his birthday so he could enlist in the U.S. Army when he was 17, worked for the Middletown Division of Fire Department for 31 years, retiring as deputy chief in 1984, then spent 18 years as a fire marshal for the state of Ohio.

“He just showed you how to live,” said Cherice Perry, one of his three children.

Williamson, of Middletown, died March 21 at his home. He was 95.

Perry said her father, who lost his mother when he was 14, convinced his father, Ellsworth, to allow him to become a Merchant Marine when he was 16. Her father often said he wanted to join the other men who were serving their country.

Then Williamson, who was born on Feb. 24, 1928 in Dayton, told military officials his birthday was Aug. 10, 1927 so he could enlist in the Army when he was 17.

He served with the U.S. Constabulary Regiment in Germany following World War II. He spent 18 months in the Army.

Williamson became a Middletown firefighter on April 1, 1953 and rose through the ranks, retiring in 1984 as deputy fire chief, according to fire department records.

When people ask Perry what it was like growing up, she describes it as a 1950s black and white TV show. Her mother stayed home and cared for the family while her father worked.

“He was a self-made man,” she said. “He taught us will, determination, honesty, integrity, hard work. He was very proud of his family and loyal to his wife.”

Jack and Mildred Williamson were married for 71 years until her death four years ago.

He was a member of the American Legion Post 218 and Jefferson Lodge No. 90 F&AM.

Besides Perry, Williamson is survived by daughter Linda Marie (Allen Taylor) Hardin and son Jack (Debra) Williamson; sister, Louise Jones; six grandchildren, Nikki Kirsch, B.J. Williamson, Lori Guyler, Todd Williamson, David Wright and Tyler Gairland; and 14 great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Wilson-Schramm-Spaulding Funeral Home, 3805 Roosevelt Blvd., Middletown with Dan Flory officiating. Visitation will be from 5-8 p.m. Tuesday at the funeral home, with Masonic services being presented by Jefferson Lodge #90 at 7:30 p.m.

Interment will be at Woodside Cemetery and Arboretum with military honors conducted by the Middletown Combined Honor Guard.

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