(United States Army Retired) William Howard Gwaltney, 80, went home to his Lord and Savior on Tuesday, October 3, 2017.
Mr. Gwaltney was a resident at Catawba Valley Living at Rock Barn, in Claremont, having previously resided in the Hiddenite Community. He was a member of Linney’s Grove Baptist Church in Hiddenite.
William was born November 12, 1936, on the Gwaltney Farm in Hiddenite, to Jay Perry Gwaltney and Edith McLain Gwaltney. William attended Hiddenite High School and, at 17 years old, joined the United States Army.
During his 20-year military career, he served in the Korean War, Vietnam War, and was also stationed in various locations in Europe and in the United States. While stationed in Germany, William married Hanni Charlotte Pruch on January 31, 1958 in Schwaebisch-Gmuend. During another tour of Germany, the Gwaltneys would adopt their only child, Evelynn.
During William’s distinguished military career, he was awarded several medals, including the Bronze Star, the Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze stars, the United Nations Service Medal, the Korean Defense Service Medal, the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with 60 device, and the Army Commendation Medal.
William was stationed in South Carolina, Virginia, Korea, Germany (multiple times), Texas, Colorado, Kansas, Washington D.C., North Carolina, Vietnam, and Alaska. During his time in Alaska, he and Hanni were foster parents to two young boys.
After having served our Country for 20 years, William retired from the United States Army on December 31, 1973, while stationed in Fort Hood, Texas. When asked about his military service, he would say his only regret was not pulling another 10 years, so that he would have retired with 30 years of service. After his retirement at the end of 1973, he moved his wife and daughter back to his hometown of Hiddenite.
In addition to his parents and wife, he was preceded in death by his siblings, Odessa, Harold, Gilmer, Efird, Robert, and Ronald.
He is survived by his daughter, Evelynn Gwaltney Yount and husband Conrad; and grandchildren, Andrew Yount, Victoria Yount, and Collin Yount. Mr. Gwaltney’s surviving siblings are Marjorie Christy, Eugene Gwaltney, and Jerry Gwaltney.
The family wishes to express their sincere appreciation to the staff at Catawba Valley Living at Rock Barn, Catawba Regional Hospice, Alesha Flynn (his caregiver from Bayada), his care team from VA Home Based Primary Care, the Stephen Ministry at Concordia Lutheran Church in Conover, and Adult Life Programs of Hickory.
William was stationed in Washington D.C. in November 1963, during the time of President Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas, Texas. On November 25, 1963, approximately one million people lined the route of the funeral procession, from the Capitol back to the White House, then to St. Matthew’s Cathedral, and finally to Arlington National Cemetery. William and Hanni were among those one million people lining the crowded streets of D.C. to pay respect, as the flag-draped coffin of our 35th President was carried on a horse-drawn caisson. As the caisson passed by, William labored to raise his arm to salute amongst the tightly gathered crowd of mourners.
Music was important to William during his ten-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Music calmed him and transported him to a different time and place. While suffering from late stages of Alzheimer’s disease, at a time when he did not recognize his closest family members, he would sing along to the chorus of Elvis Presley’s “Peace in the Valley”:
“There will be peace in the valley for me, some day
There will be peace in the valley for me, oh Lord I pray
There’ll be no sadness, no sorrow
No trouble, trouble I see
There will be peace in the valley for me, for me.”
William Howard Gwaltney and his wife, Hanni, will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, in Virginia, at a private burial.
Condolences may be sent to the Yount Family at www.drumfh-conover.com.
The Yount family has entrusted funeral arrangements to Drum Funeral Home & Cremations in Conover.