John Emery Fuller, son of Melvin and Florence Fuller and brother of James Fuller, former postmaster of Fleischmanns, died on January 14, 2012 of pulmonary fibrosis.
Born in Fleischmanns on December 31, 1920, he attended Fleischmanns Elementary and High Schools, Michigan State University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and earned a degree with honors at Bridgeport (CT) Engineering Institute. In 1942 he married Bette Cruickshank of Big Indian and they adopted a son, James, in 1953.
John was instrumental in developing Belleayre Mountain Ski Center in Highmount and operated the Belleayre Ski Concession for a time. He also was part of a team that surveyed a section of the New York State Thruway. He and his family were devoted members of Fleischmanns United Methodist Church. He was also a member of the Margaretville Masonic Lodge.
In 1941, he went to work for Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, CT where he designed flying boats and helicopters. During World War II, he spent three years in the U.S. Naval Reserve assigned to American Airlines engineering department at La Guardia Field for Naval Air Transport Command. After the war, he returned to Sikorsky and remained there for the next 27 years, rising to the post of manager of mass properties engineering. During that time, the Society of Aeronautical Weight Engineers elected him president and an honorary fellow and he earned a listing in “Who’s Who in Engineering.” As a resident of Stratford, his extra curricular activities included volunteering for the YMCA, the Methodist Church, the Scottish Rite Masons, the Connecticut State Police Auxiliary, and two fire departments, all of which earned him a listing in “Who’s Who in the East.”
He retired for the first time in 1978 and moved to San Clemente, CA because of Bette’s health. However, he couldn’t stay idle and decided to accept a position with Convair Division of General Dynamics in San Diego where he was a group engineer on the Space Shuttle Orbiter at Lindbergh Field. Northrop-Grumman Corp. subsequently recruited him as a group engineer for its B-2 Stealth Bomber. John loved innovation and in 2000 he received a letter of appreciation from the Department of the Navy for 50 years of “dedication and hard work” during a career in aeronautical engineering.
John’s wife, Bette, died after suffering from multiple sclerosis for 30 years. He retired again in January 1991 and married Kevin Mary Hannigan. They moved to Leisure World in Laguna Woods CA in 1992. He spent the next 20 years of his life as an enthusiastic volunteer. He was selected as the Historical Society’s Honoree for January 2001 and served as president of the Leisure World Historical Society from 2001 through 2005. John also served as an escort-messenger at Saddleback Memorial Hospital and held many offices on the Leisure World’s governing boards.
Pre-deceased by his first wife, his son, and brother, he is survived by his second wife, Kevin Mary; stepsons Marty Hannigan (Melissa), Brian Hannigan (Susan) and step-daughter Linnea Hannigan Iordanopoulos (Markos) and his beloved 11-year old twin grandchildren, Martin and Ann Iordanopoulos, daughter-in-law Mary Lou Fuller, granddaughter Kyle Fuller, grandson Jae Fuller, step-grandson Shawn Bayarsky, nieces Cathy Fuller and Merry Lou Wickham, and nephew Mel Fuller.
John was a gentle man and a gentleman whose life was guided by unswerving faith in God and love for his family and friends.
A memorial service will be held at noon on Saturday, Sept. 15, at Fleischmanns United Methodist Church. Burial will follow in Conesville Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent in honor of John to Hospice of Saddleback Valley, c/o Saddleback Memorial Foundation, 24451 Health Center Drive, Laguna Hills, CA 92653.
Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Mark Wilsey at the E. B. Gormley Funeral Home, 87 Main Street, Phoenicia.
You may share a condolence, or light a candle at John’s Memorial page at www.gormleyfuneralhome.com.