Joel William Sills was called home by our Lord Jesus Christ on May 22, 2020. Joel was born on September 22, 1941 in Lithonia, Georgia and was the youngest of three siblings.
Joel is survived by his son Joel. Jr. (and wife, Heidi) and daughter Tracy. He was blessed with two grandsons, Ian and Colin, whom he loved so very much.
Joel left Lithonia, Georgia upon graduating from High School to attend college at the University of Georgia. It was there that Joel met the angel that came to live with him, the late Ruth Webb. Joel never believed that he would graduate from the University of Georgia had it not been for the angel who came to live with him. Joel and Ruth were wedded and enjoyed 55 years of blessed marriage. Joel graduated in June of 1963 and was commissioned through the Air Force ROTC program as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force.
Joel served this great country for 27 years as an Air Force command pilot with over 4800 flying hours. Upon graduation from the University of Georgia, Joel completed pilot training at Laughlin Air Force Base (AFB) in Texas. He was then assigned to McChord AFB where his son Joel, Jr. was born. Shortly afterwards, he was assigned to South Vietnam where he accrued 832 combat flying hours as a Forward Air Controller. Upon return from Vietnam, Joel was assigned to Hurlburt Field in Florida, where his daughter Tracy was born. Given all the challenges with college, Joel went on to complete the Squadron Office School program, became a distinguished graduate of the Air Command and Staff College, and became a graduate of the Air War College. He went even further and obtained a Masters Degree in Education from Troy State University. Joel’s career also included two tour of duties at Yokota Air Force Base in Japan and culminated in his retirement as a Colonel from the United States Air Force while assigned to Ft. McPherson in Georgia.
Joel so loved flying that upon retiring from the Air Force he found a second career flying commercially. Joel flew commercially for ATA Airlines until he reached the mandatory retirement age. Joel in his lifetime has slipped the surly bonds of earth and put out his hand and touched the face of God. Oh, how he loved to fly!
Ruth and Joel came to Fort Myers in 1992 to build their dream retirement home and to live out their retirement. Joel was a devout Christian and was a member of Covenant Presbyterian Church and a founding member of New Hope Presbyterian Church. He served in the ministry of the church by serving as an elder leader and a teacher of the Joy Sunday School Class.
Joel was a humble, caring and compassionate person who loved God, his family, his church, and this great country. He was a faithful servant of the Lord, an educator, an honorable and decorated military officer, and patriot of this country. He will be deeply missed by many whose lives he touched.
It is fitting to remember that during this difficult time, we celebrate Joel’s life with the poem his Angel who came to live with him, the late Ruth Sills, wrote in 2005.
When we journey through life’s storms,
God surrounds us with His everlasting love.
He knows our darkest fears
And wipes away our tears.
He comforts us as we face travail
And holds us close within his sheltering arms.
Prayer calms our frail, human spirit.
God’s power knows not a limit.
Trust in him for all things we must,
For he has a plan for each of us.
He watches and He cares.
His all seeing eye is aware.
Forevermore, His protection does He give
To those who seek His counsel and His love.
Each of us He does enfold,
And close He doth us hold.
The problems of this life no victory have
For our almighty God is our Strength.
It is He who conquers all
And brings us home to His call.
Joel will have his internment at Arlington National Cemetery joining the angel who came to live with him. A “Celebration of Life” will be held on Saturday, July 25, 2020 at 10:00 am at New Hope Presbyterian Church, 10051 Plantation Road, Fort Myers, Florida, 33966. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Joel’s name to Folds of Honor (https://www.foldsofhonor.org/) The Folds of Honor provides educational scholarships to spouses and children of America’s fallen and disabled service-members.
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