Shirley (Denton Bortner, Kuhn) Tharp, daughter of Flossie (Dayton) Denton

DFH Volume 1 Issue 23

When, John Phillip Bortner and I married on July 31, 1954, I became a US Air Force military spouse. Phil had served in Korea for a year during the Korean Conflict. Upon returning to the United States he was stationed at Niagara Falls, NY, and we were married during that assignment. Uncle Charles Dayton performed the wedding ceremony at the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Corinth.

Following the wedding we returned to Niagara Falls and lived in North Tonawanda, NY, until his enlistment expired. Our son Stephen Paul was born while we lived there.

Phil had decided not to reenlist, but after 89 days of being unemployed, he reenlisted and was sent to Saratoga Springs, NY. During the next two years, we were blessed with two more children: John Phillip Jr, and Pamela Sue.

Then, in the spring of 1959, Phil was sent to Itazuki Air Force Base in Japan for a 3-year tour. I and the three very young children joined him six months later.

In April 1962, we returned to the States and went to Griffiss Air Force Base, Rome, NY, for another three-year assignment. This is where I began my Civil Service career, which I will tell about later.

At the end of that tour of duty, Phil received orders to go to Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines for two years. Again, I and the three children joined him there 11 months later. While there, I worked in the middle school office as secretary to the principal another Civil Service position.

In 1964, Phil was sent to a remote site in Alaska for a 1-year tour. He said that he read 80 books that year! When he returned in 1965, he was assigned to Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) in Tullahoma, TN, and we moved our mobile home to Manchester, TN. While there, I worked at Smyrna, TN, and then at AEDC both Civil Service positions.

When we returned to the States in August 1969 to take a new assignment at Fort Lee, VA, I was expecting our fourth child, Rebecca Lynn. She was born in the base hospital at Fort Lee on December 14, 1969. Three months later, I went back to work on Fort Lee and eventually became an Editor of Army technical manuals.

In 1971, Phil retired after 20 years of military service. Phil’s last civilian employment in Virginia was with the I95 Turnpike near Richmond, VA. In 1980, my mother, Flossie Dayton Denton, came to live with us in Hopewell, VA.

In 1983 I accepted a Writer-Editor position at Fort Rucker, AL, and Phil, Rebecca, Mother and I moved to Enterprise, AL and later to Dothan, AL. In 1985, Mother’s cancer returned, and she went to be with the Lord in September 1987. During my years of working full-time at Fort Rucker, I decided to get the transcripts from all of the colleges I had attended over the last several years to see what courses I needed to get my bachelor’s degree. I then attended night school at Enterprise Junior College and Troy State University and finally graduated in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (Management). In May 1993, I retired after 30 years of Civil Service employment. After that I worked about six years as Office Secretary for the Nazarene church in Dothan. On July 9, 1997, Phil died at home as a result of a heart attack. We had been married 43 years.

(To be continued next month—November 2019, Vol 1 Issue 24)


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