Wilbur R. Becker, 85, of Cape Girardeau, a decorated Naval officer, died on Monday, Sept. 27, 2004, at the Lutheran Home of natural causes.
He was born in Festus, Mo., on Feb. 27, 1919, to Emma and Sylvester Becker and was raised by his grandparents, William and Anna Schweppe.
He entered the U.S. Navy on Aug. 9, 1938, after having been rejected five times. This may have been the first important evidence of his single-minded nature. He served aboard the USS Pensacola, a heavy cruiser, from April 8, 1939, when he was a seaman second class, until relieved on Oct. 4, 1943, having achieved his chief yeoman rating. During that period, he participated in nine surface and aerial combat engagements. Subsequently, in October 1945, he boarded the USS Badoeng Strait, where he completed his active duty service on Dec. 6, 1945. Upon return to the St. Louis area after the war, he remained in our nation's service as a Naval Reservist, rising to the rank of lieutenant commander, the rank at which he retired from Naval service.
In 1946, he began employment with the Cotton Belt Railroad as a clerk, rising to accident investigator, subsequently moving to Cape Girardeau, where he lived until his death. Upon his retirement in 1979, he had accumulated 33 years of service to the railroad and had risen to supervisory status.
He is survived by his son, Dennis (Lyndell) Becker of Hartsville, S.C.; his daughter, Susan (Gale) Rand of Great Falls, Mont.; four grandchildren, Christopher (Lori) Group, Dennis (Jeannette) Becker Jr., Wendy (Christopher) Crumbo, Mark (Holly) Becker; and five great-grandchildren, Amanda and Zachary Group, Jacob, Andrew and Emily Crumbo. He is also survived by Ruth Nelson, a dear friend.
His wife of 51 years, Mildred Adelaide Struckhoff, whom he married on April 13, 1943, while on leave from Naval service, preceded him in death on March 22, 1995.
He was a member and former board member of VFW Post 3838 in Cape Girardeau, an organization very much to his liking. In addition, he was a member of the American Legion and the Elks. He attended a number of reunions of his shipmates over the years, keeping in close contact with many. As a younger man, he was an adept player of cork ball.
Viewing is Tuesday, Oct. 5, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Ford and Sons Funeral Home, 1001 N. Mount Auburn Road, Cape Girardeau. Services will be at Ford and Sons on Wednesday, Oct. 6, at 1:30 p.m., with committal at the Cape County Memorial Park mausoleum on North Kingshighway. The Rev. Don Reder will officiate. Full military honors will be by VFW Post 3838 and the Missouri Honors Team.