Rev. John Basinger Jr., 92, of Normalville, went home to be with his Lord and Savior on Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, while surrounded by his loving family.
He was born March 23, 1922, in Normalville, the first son of the late John and Lottie Whipkey Basinger. John was an avid reader all of his life. He believed you were never too young or too old to learn. He would ride on the mail truck to high school and walk to the Carnegie Free Library after school and read until it was time to catch the mail truck back up the mountain. In high school, he was known as the walking dictionary. One of his high school teachers, Miss Sonafelt (Mrs. Wandel) would have her students read around the room and if a student came to a difficult word, she would stop the reader and say, "Tell the class what that word means, John." He would graduate from Connellsville High School in 1941.
John's father was gassed in World War I and was unable to work, so the family received public assistance. John had to go to work to repay the money they received.
John answered the call to serve his country when drafted, Nov. 10, 1942. John was inducted into the Army and served his basic training with the 90th Division at Camp Barkley, Texas. He then became a part of the Cadre, which was to become the 36th Cavalry Recon Squadron. The 44th joined them at Yuma, Ariz., to form the 11th Cavalry Group. The 11th departed at New York on Sept. 29, 1944. They arrived at Glasgow, Scotland, 11 days later. After moving down to England, then sent over the Channel to Le Havre, France, they moved up through France and Belgium to Holland, where they engaged the enemy. The 11th Cavalry Group served under General Montgomery and General Simpson. They advanced across the Rhineland and Central Europe with Berlin as their goal. The 36th Recon squadron lost more than 60 percent of their men who were killed or wounded. John was wounded two weeks before the war was over. He, along with many others, were flown back to Nancy, France, where he spent the next two months recovering from his wounds. John returned to the USA and was honorably discharged on Feb. 24, 1946.
On returning from the service, he married the former Rosemary Brooks on June 2, 1946. John was a charter member of the Valley Veterans Post 12019 in Normalville. He was elected state chaplain at the 81st annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, held at the Radisson Motel in Green Tree, Pittsburgh, on July 13, 2000.
Also, after being discharged from the Army, John became active in the local Methodist Church at Normalville. He felt called to the ministry and was licensed to preach in 1961. He engaged in the course of study and attended the Wesley Theological Seminary at Washington, D.C. He was ordained deacon in 1964 by Bishop Middleton and elder by Bishop Newell in 1966. He was a member of the Western PA Conference of the United Methodist Church.
He retired from the Johnstown District in 1988 but continued to serve where needed into his mid-80s. He was part-time pastor at Union in 1970 and full-time in 1987. He was pastor in Middleton in 1964. He was at Chalk Hill in 1962 to 1963, Chalk Hill-Evans Manor 1963 to 1965, Evans Manor Charge 1965 to 67, Stahlstown 1967 to 1971, Chalk Hill-Sampson Chapel 1971 to 1976, White Rock 1976 to 1980, Coolspring 1980 to 1984, Belsano 1984 to 88 and retired in 1988.
John also worked at Anchor Hocking and in construction. He was employed by U.S. Steel, Edgar Thompson Works as a class carpenter from November 1952 until his retirement in April 1983. He was known as John 3:16 at work and had written John 3:16 on his hardhat.
John patiently taught his children and grandchildren to share his love of fishing and hunting. He liked gardening and woodworking and made family members and friends numerous items over the years. He raised beagles for many years and enjoyed running his dogs in the fields and trails.
He is survived by his children, Gregory Basinger and wife, Bonnie, of Mill Run, Douglas Basinger and wife, Kathy, of Indian Head, and Marcia Miller and husband, Kevin, of Normalville; his grandchildren, Chad Basinger and wife Kristen, Cary Basinger and wife, Rachel, Carissa Basinger, Rebecca Ritenour and husband, Ed, Melanie Yothers and Lindsay Moore and husband, Caleb; his great-grandchildren, Mason, Gwen, Taney, Tagen and Camden Basinger, Alyssa Ritenour, Kylee Yothers and Amelia and Maverick Moore; his brother, Melvin Basinger; and numerous nieces and nephews.
In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his wife, Rosemary Brooks Basinger; a son, Terry Basinger; and brothers, Carl and Vernon Basinger.
Family and friends were received in the BROOKS FUNERAL HOME INC., in Connellsville , where a funeral service was held Tuesday, Oct. 28 with the Rev. Mark Sholtis and the Rev. Ed Mikkelsen officiating. A committal service and interment followed in the Normalville Cemetery with military rites conducted by the Valley VFW Honor Guard.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to the Connellsville Area Senior High School Library or the Carnegie Free Library or a favorite charity. To leave a message or send condolences, please visit http://www.brooksfuneralhomes.com.