No. 17796 • 18 Aug 1926 - 22 Oct 2004
Died in Stuart, FL
Interred in West Point Post Cemetery, West Point, NY
Throughout his life, John Ufner was well known, not only for his wit but also for his ability to make life long friends. All who knew him still miss him. But there is much more to say about John.
John was born in August 1926 in Lyndora, PA, a small town in western Pennsylvania. His family later moved to nearby Butler, PA, where John graduated from high school in 1944. When John was a high school sophomore, his father died. As a youth, John thought West Point was only something you read about or saw in the newsreels, and becoming a cadet was something remote and probably unobtainable. At the time of his father's passing, however, John’s high school English teacher gave him a book on West Point to encourage him to pursue the goal of becoming a cadet. He ultimately won an appointment as a result of competitive examinations.
After graduating from high school and before entering the Academy, John served as a private in the Army Reserves. Before entering the Academy in July 1946, John attended Millard's Preparatory School in Washington, DC. As his entry in the 1950 Howitzer attests, John made innumerable friends, was someone whom everyone knew, and ensured that there never was a dull moment when he was around.
The Military Academy afforded John a wide scope for his athletic abilities and interests. His major sports achievement was earning his numerals, monogram, and Major "N' as a member of the baseball team. In addition, he earned numerals for participating in football for three years. He also played on the Academy golf team in his First Class year and won the intramural championship.
As it was for so many of his classmates, John’s transition from First Classman to combat leader was swift and unexpected. In August 1950, John arrived in Korea as an infantry platoon leader with the 21st Infantry Regiment of the 24th Division. For his outstanding valor in combat, John was awarded the Silver Star and the Bronze Star. After his Korean War tour, he was assigned as aide de camp to the commanding general of the Third Armored Division. He served as aide de camp for one year in Tokyo and in a similar capacity at Ft. Knox, KY; Camp Rucker, AL; and Ft. Benning, GA.
In 1954, John married the beautiful Marilyn DeMotte in Indianapolis, IN. Together they became the proud parents of two daughters: Annette in 1954 and Elizabeth in 1958. The pattern of a strong and loving family was established early.
John's last military assignment was as assistant G 1 for the 3rd Division. Afterwards, in 1955, he resigned as a captain. He then joined the Superior Steel Corporation in Carnegie, PA, before accepting a position with the Republic Steel Corporation in Detroit, MI, as assistant district sales manager and then district sales manager there. These responsibilities were followed by successive positions as district sales manager in Pittsburgh, PA, and in Cleveland, OH, finally attaining the status of general manager of sales. His sales career finally ended when he became vice president, still with Republic Steel, in charge of the Manufacturing Group. In 1984, he retired from this position, a happy man with both daughters married and on their way to success. At this time, he formed John Ufner and Associates, a consulting group. He then retired again, moving to Coral Gables, FL, where he continued to play golf, his favorite sport.
Those who knew John well remember the personal details of his life: that he liked instant coffee, that neither he nor Marilyn smoked, and that he did some photography and gardening besides playing golf. They also remember his golf handicap was an impressive five. During retirement, traveling was a major activity for the Ufners. Clearly, he enjoyed both his professional and personal life and had a deep love for his family. For a time during retirement, when John found life somewhat boring, he got his broker's license and became associated with Prudential Bache and then Paine Webber, before finally retiring for good in Stuart, FL.
On 22 Oct 2004, John died on the golf course, apparently of a heart attack, doing what he always enjoyed. He left behind his beloved wife Marilyn, and, in his own words, two wonderful daughters and five superb grandchildren.
John declared that the Academy was the most influential part of his life because it instilled in him honor and integrity. When he learned that he had received his appointment, he did not realize then that West Point would forever shape his life. He also believed West Point was a significant factor in helping him to form the close and lasting personal relationships that he did.
The esteem and respect in which John was held were evident at his funeral at West Point. In addition to his immediate family, some of his closest friends from near and far were in attendance. The funeral ceremony was as expected for one of ours. Prayers, three rifle volleys, Taps, and presentation of the American flag to Marilyn took place, after which we walked silently away. It was over, but John, a loyal son of West Point and true friend to many, will be long remembered.
-- Family, friends, and classmates