Wallace "Wally" J. Simerly, 80, died in Payson Oct. 22, 2003. He was born in Visalia, Calif. on March 25, 1923.
Mr. Simerly was a man who loved life and people. One of his special joys was hiking with the Payson Packers, which he did for many years. He was also an avid collector and was learning the art of Bonsai.
As a young boy, his passion was to become a pilot. He accomplished his dreams when World War II broke out. He took his cadet's training at Williams Field, Ariz., then became a P-38 fighter pilot, but transferred to photo reconnaissance. He was sent to Beri, Italy for two years. He flew 48 long-range missions and received the Distinguished Flying Cross.
After the war, he was commissioned to take aerial photographs of the southern coastline of Europe. These maps are displayed at the P-38 Museum in Riverside, Calif. He was a lifetime member of the Delano Masonic Lodge in Calif.
He is survived by his wife, Carol Kane of Payson; son, Terril J. Simerly; granddaughter Janna; aunt, Edith Jacobson -- all of Fresno, Calif., and Marie Lyles, of Sacramento, Calif. and Payson, Ariz., who has become a daughter to him. He was preceded in death by his first wife of 48 years, Helen Tatum.
Mr. Simerly also leaves his Safeway coffee bunch.
A celebration of his life will be held at 2 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 28, 2003 at the Presbyterian Church, 800 W. Main Street, Payson. Saturday, Nov. 29, Allan Lyles will lead a hike to Horton Springs.
Donations can be made to RTA Hospice, 107 E. Frontier Street, Payson, AZ 85541.
Arrangements are being handled by Messinger Payson Funeral Home.