Lt. Colonel Edward Leroy Ponder, USAF, Retired, took his final flight home to be with his Lord and Savior on May 19, 2021. Ed was born on February 24, 1935 in Rockford, MO, to George Edward Ponder and Maudie Wescott Ponder. Ed was a tall, handsome Salisbury High School all-star basketball player who was cheered on to many victories by a willowy blonde named Kathryn Lorraine Guilford. The high school sweethearts went on to the University of Missouri in Columbia, she as a nursing student and Ed in ROTC where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture degree and was a member of Alpha Gamma Sigma Fraternity. Ed and his precious Katie married on August 24, 1957 at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Salisbury and, upon their graduation in 1958, embarked on an adventurous and dedicated military career.
Their first assignment was to Alaska where they both developed a love of flying and became licensed pilots. Their only child, Edward Leroy Ponder, Jr. was born while Ed was stationed in Alabama. Ed’s next assignment, as Staff Supply Officer, took him to Saudi Arabia and then on to Washington, D.C. From 1973 to 1977 he served as Supply Squadron Commander and Deputy Base Commander at RAF Joint Base Alconbury, England. During these years, Ed, Katie and little Eddie enjoyed the opportunity to travel through Europe and Russia. Following the tragic and heartbreaking death of their son, Ed and Katie found a new home at the United States Air Force Academy where Ed was Director of Supply and Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics. He retired in 1983 from the Air Force, with 24 years of service, achieving the rank of Lt. Colonel. His commendations included the Joint Service Medal, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbon with one Silver Oak Leaf Cluster, the National Defense Services Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unity Award, Air Force Commendation Medal and, the Meritorious Service Medal with two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters. In addition to the University of Missouri, he was a graduate of the Industrial College of Armed Forces, Squadron Officers School and the USAF Staff Supply Officer Program.
Ed’s association with the United States Air Force Academy continued as manager of the Aero Club and FAA certified instrument instructor and pilot, training young cadet aviators. Flying was his passion and Ed was especially proud of his beloved Navion airplane. He enjoyed hunting while living in Missouri and Alaska. He and Katie, along with friends, motorcycled throughout the beautiful landscapes of Colorado for many years.
Ed is survived by his loving wife, Katie, a brother, Larry Wayne Ponder, extended family and many dear friends who will long cherish the memory and celebrate the life of this good and gentle man, who served his country with great pride.
Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:00 A.M. on Thursday, May 27, 2021, at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Colorado Springs with Visitation at 10:00 A.M. at the church. A grave side service, with full military honors, and burial, will be held at a later date at St. Joseph Cemetery in Salisbury, MO.
Thank you to the many friends and family for their generous outpouring of support received during Ed’s battle with Parkinson’s Disease and to the team of devoted providers at Heartfelt Care at Home and his wonderful New Century Hospice nurse. Each of you blessed Ed with respect, comfort, and tremendous love.
Funeral and burial arrangements are being provided through Shrine of Remembrance Funeral Home, Colorado Springs, and Summerville Funeral Home in Salisbury, MO. Memorials may be made in Ed’s name to: Catholic Charities of Central Colorado for the Marian House Soup Kitchen; Shriners Hospitals for Children, Tampa, FL or St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital, Memphis, TN.