NORMAN — TAPS sounded Friday, April 26, 2013, for Col. (ret.) Woodrow W. Wiltse. A memorial service will be 2 p.m. Wednesday in the Primrose chapel.
He was a 40-year resident of Norman who was born in Saginaw, Mich., on Jan. 28, 1918. After graduating from Fordson High School in 1936, he put himself through Michigan State University, graduating in December 1942 with a degree in police administration. He then attended and graduated from Field Artillery Officer Candidate School in April 1943. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant and deployed to England, where he participated in the Normandy invasion in June 1944. While there, he participated in all five major campaigns, earning a Silver Star, the Bronze Star, with three clusters, and the Purple Heart. He served with distinction until he returned to the U.S. in 1945. Recalled to active duty in 1950, he was posted to various assignments around the world, including serving as the assistant Army attaché in the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, 1959-1960.
Col. Wiltse was the professor of military science at the University of Oklahoma from 1965 to 1969. While there, during that turbulent time in our history, he counseled a great number of young men as students and maintained innumerable contacts throughout his life. He retired from active duty in March 1973. On March 28, 2013, Col. Wiltse was awarded the Legion of Honor from the government of France for his distinguished service during World War II.
He and his wife of 53 years, Jeannette Elliott Wiltse, were active citizens in the Norman community. They were involved with several civic organizations including Reading for the Blind, the Norman Chamber of Commerce, the Norman Ambassadors and the Retired Officers Associations. His beloved wife died in 1995.
He is survived by his sons Elliott Wiltse of Charleston, W.Va., and Christopher Wiltse (Emily) of Memphis, Tenn.; two grandchildren, Patrick Wiltse of Austin, Texas, and Allyson Wiltse of Memphis, Tenn.; and two step-grandchildren, Rob Routon of Jackson, Tenn., and Emily Routon of Murfreesboro, Tenn. While in Saigon, Vietnam, the Wiltse’s were foster parents to Dick Ong and brought him to the United States, where he lived with them until he graduated from high school in1967. Dick now resides in San Francisco, Calif. with his wife.
Gifts and donations can be directed to Col. Woodrow Wiltse Scholarship foundation at the University of Oklahoma.
Services are under the direction of Primrose Funeral Service. To leave condolences or to watch a memorial tribute for Col. Woodrow Wiltse, visit www.primrosefuneralservice.com.
Norman Transcript, Monday, April 29, 2013