Lonnie Ezekiel Slade, Jr., born September 23, 1963, passed away on January 8, 2019, after a valiant fight with cancer. During his ten-month struggle, Lon continued to teach Aeronautical Science at Middle Georgia State University in Eastman, GA, be a loving husband and father, and retain the enduring qualities that made him beloved by so many. A Graveside service, including full military honors will be held at Georgia National Cemetery, Friday, January 18 at 2:30 pm. A Celebration of Life service will be held at 2:00 pm, Saturday, January 19 at the First Presbyterian Church of Marietta. A reception will follow in the Social Hall.
Lon was preceded in death by his parents, Ora Lee and Lonnie Ezekiel Slade, Sr. in Hawkinsville, GA, where Lon was born and raised. He attended public school there, graduating from Hawkinsville High School in 1981.
After enlisting in the Marines, he entered Middle Georgia Junior College in Cochran, GA, graduating in 1987. While there, Lon demonstrated his leadership abilities and personable qualities by being elected president of the Student Government Association and voted Mr. MGC. He graduated from the University of Georgia in 1989 with a B.A. in Science Education and a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2014. After retirement, Lon earned a master’s degree in Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and taught future pilots until the month before his passing.
Lon served his country for 32 years in the Marines, the Army Reserves, and primarily in the U.S. Army. He had many deployments throughout the United States. In addition, he served four, three-month tours in Bosnia while stationed in Giebelstadt, Germany with his family from 1995-1998. His assignments included flying military personnel in helicopters and overseeing base logistics. Lon was in Iraq for two, one-year tours of duty and for one in Afghanistan. Lon had different assignments and duties while overseas, but in each he used his skills as an astute listener, an innovative thinker, and most importantly, as a peacemaker. The mission of the U.S. and U.N. Armed Forces in Bosnia was to end the slaughter and degradation of helpless people and bring peace to a region where people couldn’t establish it for themselves. For his accomplishments during his military career, Lon received many awards and commendations.
Lon’s passion was flying. He was licensed to fly a fixed wing and any kind of helicopter. He was part owner of Blackbird Helicopters in Jasper, GA, before his second deployment to Iraq. He became a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) and loved his time teaching and interacting with students and colleagues at Middle Georgia State University.
Lon was a generous person, quick to help anyone in need. He gave freely of his time with those seeking his advice, guidance, and expertise or just needing to talk to someone who would genuinely listen. He gave money to anyone he saw in need of financial help, never expecting to be paid back. Those who met Lon did not remain a stranger for long. His ability to talk with or listen to anyone made him popular without his ever trying to be. His sense of humor, kindness, and many other enduring qualities will be missed by all who knew him but will leave many warm and happy memories as well.
Lon will be in the Family Man Hall of Fame. He loved his family more than anything else. He married Becky Rogers on April 27, 1991, in Athens, GA, and has been a loving husband for 27 years. He’s the father of Jonathon Dylan and Ashlee Virginia Slade and has shown them the meaning of family love by being a role model of an ideal parent. Lon’s priority when returning from his deployments was to make up for lost time by being with Becky, Dylan, and Ashlee any minute he could. He was not only a dedicated father to his own children, but also a father figure to his children’s friends.
Lon remained close throughout his life to his siblings and their families. He leaves behind his sisters Melinda Tharpe (Robert) in Marietta, GA, Beth Griffin (Lennie) in Hawkinsville, GA, and brother Joe (Tammy) in Macon, GA. He also leaves behind his nephews and nieces Ray and Amy Griffin; Rob, Zeke, and Ginny Tharpe, Matthew Slade, Mason Jordan, and Luke Gardner.
In lieu of flowers, donations should be made to the Wounded Warrior Project.