Nashville, TN - Max Leroy Slankard (Commander USN-ret) died November 7, 2014 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Max is survived by his loving wife of 52 years, Claudine Cowan Slankard, sons David George Slankard of Linwood, KS, and Max Leroy Slankard Jr. (Michelle Tuft and Jacob Slankard) of Chicago, IL, and daughter, Marilyn Slankard Ollila (Philip Ollila and Hannah, Kristen and Sophia) of Nashville, TN; and 18 nieces and nephews.
He was born in Greenwood Township, Kansas 10-28-28, the son of tenant farmer George Winifred Slankard and Cecil Moody Slankard, and brother to Opal Louise, Glen, Robert and Beverly; and surviving brother Rex (Betty) and sister Lois Heikes (Walt) and brother-in-law Robert Gies (Rosalie).
Max graduated from Williamsburg, KS high school at age 16 in 1945. He then joined the Navy’s new Flying Midshipmen program and after 2 years of college joined the pre-flight program as an Aviation Midshipman. After carrier qualification on the USS CABOT CVL-28, and advanced flight school training in a PBM seaplane squadron at NAS Corpus Christi, he was appointed as Naval Aviator in 1949. He flew with a transport squadron out of NAS Moffett Field, CA supporting the fleet along the West coast from the Aleutians to the Philippines. He flew an R5D (C54) during the Korean conflict, hopping back and forth across the Pacific with 6 stops each way to and from Tokyo.
Deteriorating eyesight caused his reassignment to general line officer and he reported to the USS LOS ANGELES CA-135 in 1953 as CIC Watch Officer. This ship engaged in 31 consecutive days of “call fire and harassment and interdiction” missions off North Korea. He joined the U.S.S. HEERMANN (DD532) in Newport, R.I. in 1955 which included the first visit by a U.S. Navy ship to the newly-formed state of Israel at Haifa and which supplied a 40 man honor guard to the Monaco wedding of Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly.
He completed his B.A. degree at the University of Kansas in 1959. While at KU, he met and married Donna Louise Gies and had son, David. Donna suffered a tragic early death from a post-natal medical problem in April 1960. During this period, Max served on the U.S.S. FRANK EVANS (DD-754) and with the COMCRUDESPAC staff in San Diego.
He then served as Executive Officer on the USS WILKINSON (DL-5), followed by his role as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. CONFLICT (MS-426), a minesweeper serving off Vietnam.
Max attained a Master of Science in Operations Research at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA in 1965, followed by shore duty at the Antisubmarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet in Norfolk, VA.
His final ship command was the destroyer U.S.S. CHARLES H ROAN (DD 853) out of Newport, RI. During that time his ship was host to one of the first Japanese ships to visit a U.S. port since WW II. His final active duty assignment was with the Antisubmarine Warfare Systems Project Office as Director of Command & Control, in Washington, D.C. He retired from active duty in 1972.
Max spent a period of 5 years establishing a Naval ROTC unit at Pike High School in Indianapolis, IN. He then took a position as Assistant Director of Public Works in Lawrence, Kansas from which he retired in 1993.
Max and Claudine embarked on long-delayed trips overseas and enjoyed spending these later years together. They lived in Fox Lake IL for ten years near their grandson, Jake, and spent the past 7 years in Nashville near their granddaughter, Sophia.
Max was an active member of the Lutheran church and was a faithful child of God. He was adventurous and brave, with an extremely soft heart. He was always generous to his family, friends, and many charitable organizations throughout his life. He was a voracious reader; an avid sports fan, and a lover of all types of music.
He was a loving husband, father, son, grandfather, brother, and uncle who was devoted to his children, wife and grandchildren. His enduring joy in life was to spend time with his partner, best friend, and soulmate, Claudine. His absence will be felt forever.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Alzheimer’s Association, www.alz.org; the Wounded Warrior project, or a charity of your choice.
The family will receive friends on Sunday, November 16 from 4-6 pm at Davis Funeral Chapel, 531 Shawnee, Leavenworth, KS. A Celebration of Life Service will be held on Monday, November 17, 10:00 am at Davis Funeral Chapel, followed by inurnment with full military honors at Leavenworth National Cemetery.
Condolences may be left at Max’s online guest book at www.davisfuneralchapelinc.com.