Born in Chicago in February 1913, Colonel (USAF ret) Oliver “Ollie” Cellini slipped the bonds of this earth on September 12, 2020 at age 107 and reached out to touch the face of God.

   Ollie is survived by his daughter Linda, his grandson Darren Tucker (Dian), granddaughter Kimberley Hamel (Joe) and four great granddaughters, Shelby and Rylee Jurich, Kendyll and Arley Tucker. He is also survived by step-granddaughters Jessi Smith and Jamie Cameron. 

   He was preceded in death by his devoted wife of 58 years Bernice and his daughters, Donna and Beverly Cellini.

   Ollie embraced life and lived it to the fullest. He bought his first gun at age 9 and following in his father’s footsteps became an expert marksman. He was a Hall of Fame wrestler in both high school and college, was on the Indiana University NCAA championship team, was a champion in his weight class and was invited to wrestle in the 1936 Olympics, which he was unable to accept.

   He served in the military for 32 years beginning in the Army before transitioning to the Army Air Corps flying school in San Antonio, TX in 1938. Ollie fell in love with aircraft while in grammar school in Chicago.  He looked out his classroom window and watched planes coming and going from a grass field that later became Midway Airport. Ollie remained in the military pilot’s seat until his retirement in 1968. After retirement he continued in the civilian pilot’s seat flying charters. He then had a successful career in real estate before once again retiring.

   Over the course of 30 years he flew 60 different types of aircraft, most of them pursuit planes and high-performance fighters. He was a commander of 5 fighter groups and was a Wing Commander 3 times.

He served 18 months during WWII in China under the command of General Chennault with the 14th Air Force Flying Tigers after they were assimilated into the US military. Colonel Cellini was commander of the only squadrons of P-47s under Chennault’s command.

   Ollie also served 18 months in Korea as commander of the 51st fighter wing flying F-80s.

   He was highly decorated receiving the Legion of Merit 4 times, the Distinguished Flying Cross 3 times, the Air Medal 6 times and numerous other lesser medals that he said were awarded if you were still breathing.

   He was the inaugural commander of the 551st Air Early Warning Wing flying the C-121 Super Constellation. It was the only time in his career that he was not flying a fighter plane.

   Ollie was also an avid outdoorsman. He loved to hunt, fish, shoot skeet and to play golf. He was an outstanding marksman and taught his daughters and grandson how to shoot. He and Donna competed successfully in many military and civilian skeet competitions. He taught daughter Linda how to fly and they spent many hours together in small planes.

   Ollie was a devoted family man and was proud of his daughters and grandchildren.

  The military achievement of which he was most proud is that he never lost a wingman.

   Services for Colonel Cellini will be at the Shrine of Remembrance on November 16th at 11:00. Inurnment will be at Pikes Peak National Cemetery the next day, November 17th, also at 11:00.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Falcon Flight 11 Scholarship Fund, International Order of Daedalians, P.O. Box 63234, Colorado Springs, CO 80962.

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This Obituary Has 11 Condolences

  1. Rest in Peace Grandpa Colonel Ollie. You are truly one of the finest Americans of the twentieth century. We celebrate your 107 years of a life very well lived, a life of Honor, and now you have joined your your comrades in arms guarding the pearly gates. You will always have our love and our respect, your legacy will live on~
    Darren, Dian, Kendyll & Arley

  2. My dearest Uncle, I am exceedingly grateful to have had you in my life. Your accomplishments have served as an inspiration to me and to many others in my family.. You survived the ravages of the Great Depression, became a high school and college wrestling champion and eventually a commissioned officer in the US Army. For years to follow, you faced imminent peril throughout WWII and the Korean War never wavering from your military duties and command responsibilities. Only after 32 years of service to your country did you ease into an active retirement in beautiful Colorado Springs to enjoy outdoor activities that included golf, fishing and hunting. I fondly recall your many invitations for me to join you. Our trip together to Washington, DC to visit the WWII and US Air Force memorials will be long remembered. You exemplified the results that come from hard work, determination and honesty. You are my consummate hero and will be greatly missed.
    With love & respect,

    1. Dear Bob,
      This is a wry nice tribute to Dad. Thank you. Lin

  3. The Colonel was definitely one of the best. As a young man I was transferred to the Springs for work. Uncle Ollie and Aunt Bee welcomed me into their home, gave me several grand tours and fed me and then after that would feed me again. I just remember sitting at the kitchen table listening to all the stories he had to share each one more amazing than the next. His memory will live on as I pass his epic journey onto my children, both of whom have written about in school. Thank you Colonel I will miss you.

    1. Dear Rob, I remember well your visits and the green eggs Dad would cook for you. He is memorable on many levels. I’m glad you got to know him.

  4. On behalf of myself, the Ingelido family and especially my father and mother, Michael and Elinor Ingelido who were life long friends of Colonel Cellini before they passed, I wish to express my respect and highest possible regard for a life well lived. He served the Nation with skill and dedication and upheld the finest traditions on the U.S. Air Force throughout his life. I hope he and my Dad and their many fighter pilot friends are together once again, to drink at the bar on a Friday night, and sing the songs of their youth while swapping many a “There I was…” story. Please accept our deepest sympathy on the passing of this great patriot and better man. I sincerely regret that we will be unable to attend his services as my wife and I are currently quarantined as we recover from the COVID-19 virus.

    1. Mike,
      First I offer best wishes to you and your wife for a quick recovery.
      Thank you for your message. I have fond memories of your parents, and the many conversations with your dad. Our dads were quite a pair. I like your visual of those pilots being together again.

  5. Dear ollie- I met you and your family, they knew my grandfather Michael Ingelido. You were such a kind and loving man who served your country extremely honorably. I am so thankful for the chance and the opportunity I got to meet you. You will be missed terribly. Thank you for such a wonderful man.
    Lisa Trumpore and family

  6. Ollie, you will always have my love and respect. You made me feel such a part of the family. You were such an inspiration to so many through your careers, outdoor activities and dedication to the order of the Daedalians. Now you may Rest In Peace with the friends and comrades who have preceeded you to the pearly gates. Sheila Sisbarro

  7. Colonel, you had many outstanding accomplishments in life and I wish to thank you for frequently risking your life during two wars so that the rest of us could enjoy life in the USA. I only knew you in the later years of your life and in those years I knew I was in the presence of greatness and not just because of your war efforts but also you as a person. Mostly I got to know you as we fished together in Leadville and we had lots of time to talk because there was very little fish interference. I am still amazed at the steadiness of your hands as you thread the fishing line through the hook, and you were in your late 90’s. i also wish to include my late wife, Sally, admiration of you as we listened to your comments around the campfire. Maybe you and she can resume those conversations now that you are both with God. My endearing thanks to you for your service to our country. May you rest in peace. Bob Gatewood

    1. Dear Bob, thank you for your message. I especially love the visual of Sally and Dad having time together now.

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