ROCK, Mich. - Lt. Col. Allan "Al" Martin Jokela (Ret), of 15111 North Rock Road in Rock, died peacefully at his home on Tuesday, April 2, 2013. He was 80 years old.
Al was born on March 6, 1933, in Escanaba, the son of Bertha and John Jokela of Rock. He graduated from Rock High School in 1951 as valedictorian and class president. He married the former Nancy Koski on Aug. 13, 1955, at Faith Lutheran Church in Rock.
He received a Regents Alumni Scholarship to the University of Michigan where he earned a Bachelor's Degree in Speech in 1955. He was a loyal Wolverines fan. He earned a Master's Degree in Public Administration from George Washington University in 1967.
Al entered the United States Air Force in 1955 as a second lieutenant graduate of ROTC. He was a distinguished ROTC graduate and a distinguished graduate of squadron officer school and the Air Command and Staff College.
During his 20-year career in the U.S. Air Force, Al served as a master navigator, instructor and personnel officer. He was an Air Force ROTC instructor at Michigan State University for four years. He and his family were stationed in Texas, Japan, Virginia, Michigan and Alabama.
Al logged 3,985 hours of flying time during his military career. In addition to Japan, he flew to the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Wake Island, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, the Azores off Portugal, Chile, Peru, Argentina and the Panama Canal.
Al flew 181 combat missions during his one-year tour in Vietnam. He retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1975 from Air Force Headquarters at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
Following his retirement, he and his family moved to his hometown of Rock where he worked as coordinator for the Rock-Perkins-Cornell Senior Center. He later was employed as production manager for EIMCO K & K Manufacturing Company of Rock. He also worked as a grant writer for Bay de Noc Community College.
Al was a member of Faith Lutheran Church in Rock. He was the former tail twister and past president of the Rock Lions Club. He was a former member of the Mid Peninsula School Improvement Team.
He was a past player on the Mid Pen Merchants Softball Team which earned a state championship. He also was a past player on the Rock Merchants Basketball Team. Al was thankful for his teammates allowing an old man to play on their teams.
For nearly four decades, Al was very active in Rock American Legion Post 559 and was a life member. He served as past president, past vice commander, and past adjutant, a position he held for 24 years.
He and his fellow legionnaires organized several youth and community programs including the Punt, Pass and Kick Contest at Mid Peninsula School, the Boys State Program, the Veterans Day Program at the school, the Memorial Day and Flag Day programs in Rock, and the post installation ceremonies.
Al had served on the following state offices for the American Legion: assistant membership director for the U.P.; 11th District service officer; district committeeman; zone commander; and chairman of the Department of Michigan's Education and Scholarship Committee.
He was a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America Post 237 of Munising, a life member of Amvets Post 122 of Ishpeming, and a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Gwinn.
In 2011, he was named Honorary U.P. Veteran of the Year for his outstanding service to the community and veteran organizations.
Al is survived by his wife, Nancy; their five children: Yvonne Jokela (John Linjala) of Rock, Heidi (Steve) DeLongchamp of Ishpeming; Allan Jokela Jr. of Rock, Jenny Lancour of Gladstone, and David Jokela of Rock; six grandchildren: Erik DeLongchamp, Maija (Steve) Veihl, and Sara DeLongchamp, all of Ishpeming, Isaac DeLongchamp (Nicole Morack) of DeWitt, Mich., Earl (Tamara) Lancour of Raymore, Mo., and Elle Lancour of Gladstone; a great-granddaughter, Jenny DeLongchamp of DeWitt, Mich.; a brother, Paul Jokela of Antigo, Wis.; brothers-in-law Robert (Marlene) Koski and David Koski, all of Rock; and several cousins, nieces and nephews.
Al was preceded in death by his parents, Bertha and John Jokela, and two brothers, George Jokela and Harold Jokela.
Services have been held. Burial will take place in the Rock Cemetery.