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Donald Tilman Stratton

Donald Tilman Stratton
November 13, 1924 —December 30, 2017

Don Stratton, beloved husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, uncle, cousin and friend, died Saturday morning, Dec. 30, 2017, at home in the presence of his family. Don was born Nov. 13, 1924 in Kansas City, Mo., to Elbert Tilman (E.T.) Stratton and Muriel (Umphrey) Stratton.

Don accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior at First Baptist Church, Excelsior Springs, soon after marrying Dorothy. He was ordained as a deacon at Bethel Baptist Church in 1955. He shared his faith by faithfully serving as a deacon and 6th grade boys Sunday School teacher and later served as a deacon at Chandler Baptist Church in Liberty, Mo., where he was a member.

Don shared his life-long love of aviation with others as a flight instructor, airport operator and aircraft mechanic. He operated the Excelsior Springs Airport with his wife from 1962-1975 while also working at Trans World Airlines. At the municipal airport Excelsior Springs, Mo., he provided aircraft maintenance and a flight school, which was one of the first VA-approved flight schools in Missouri. As a flight instructor, he taught hundreds of students to fly. Following a first solo flight of each student, he would cut off the student’s shirt tail and hang it with others in the airport office.

Don first soloed on June 24, 1944, in a Piper J-3 Cub on a grass strip beside the paved runway at Municipal Airport (now Downtown Airport), Kansas City, Mo. After the war, he joined a flying club with 10 others in Excelsior Springs. The club bought a new 1946 Aeronca 7AC Champion “Champ” that they flew off a grass strip where Excelsior Springs Middle School now stands. During the early 1960s, he earned his commercial license, flight instructor rating and multi-engine rating.

Don helped build B-25 Mitchell light bombers at North American in Kansas City and California during World War II, then worked on the F2H Banshee fighter at McDonnell Aircraft Corporation in St. Louis.

From 1955 to 1986, he worked first as a sheet metal mechanic and later as aircraft inspector at the Trans World Airlines overhaul base at Mid-Continent International (now Kansas City International) Airport, in Kansas City. While at TWA, he first worked on Martin 202s and 404s, Lockheed Constellations, and Lockheed Super Gs, later replaced by Boeing 707s. He also serviced Convair 880s, Boeing 727s, Boeing 747s, DC-9s, MD-80s and L-1011s. The Boeing 757s and 767s were coming on-line when he retired from TWA in May 1986.

After retiring from TWA, Don and Dorothy enjoyed extensive travel in their RV. As a member of the Santa Fe Trail Holiday Ramblers Club, Don served on the Engineering Team at Holiday Ramblers International Rallies. They also enjoyed RV travel in the winter to south Texas and Arizona where Don was a contract aircraft mechanic while enjoying the warm weather until 2000. He volunteered with his wife at Liberty Hospital TreeHouse and Gift Shop before he suffered a debilitating stroke in 2007, after which his wife cared for him at home.

The family thanks Dr. H. Andrew Pickett and care providers for their comforting support during the final weeks.

Don is preceded in death by his parents, Elbert Tilman (E.T.) Stratton and Muriel (Umphrey) Stratton, and brother Kenneth Leroy Stratton.

He is survived by his wife of 73 years, Dorothy Jean (Mills) Stratton (married July 8, 1944); three children: Steven Don Stratton and wife Christy Ann (Monks) Stratton of Excelsior Springs, Mo., John Elbert Stratton and wife Debbie Jean (Heese) Stratton of Liberty, Mo., and Jean Ann (Stratton) Janner and husband Wayne of Olathe, Ks.; five grandchildren: Carly Elizabeth (Stratton) Sefrit and husband Robert, Christopher Steven Stratton and wife Courtney, Cali Jean Stratton, Caleb Josiah Stratton and Zachary Wayne Janner; three great-grandchildren, Calla Elizabeth Sefrit, Dietrich Asher Sefrit and Adelaide Rhea Stratton; in addition to nieces, nephews, cousins and many friends.

Visitation will be held at 10 a.m. with memorial service 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018, at Chandler Baptist Church in Liberty, Mo. In lieu of flowers, the family recommends memorial gifts to Chandler Baptist Church.

Cremains private family burial will be held at a later date at Union Cemetery, in Orrick, Mo., and Chandler Baptist Church Memorial Garden, Liberty.

Arrangements provided by Bross & Spidle Funeral Home.

By Brittany Zegers • zegers@leaderpress.com

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2 Responses to Donald Tilman Stratton

  1. Karen & Terry Vogler Reply

    January 3, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    Don, was always such a delight to be around. As the sheriff of Santa Fe Ramblers, he kept the group in line and gave us many laughs. Don, always added so much to our group and we feel so blessed to him gotten to know and spend time with him.

  2. Karen (Helge) Dewey Reply

    January 5, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    My epathy to the Stratton family. Don was a great person. He was always there to help. Peace and Blessings.

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