Mr. Henry Wardenga, 90, of McDonough, passed away and went to be with the Lord, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. Mr. Wardenga was born on July 29, 1922, in Erie, Pa., to Polish emigrants Stephen and Jennie (Kita) Wardenga. After graduation from East High, he enlisted in the Naval Aviation Cadet program receiving his wings and commission as an Ensign, April 25,1944 at Pensacola, Fla. He checked out in a Piper Cub and qualified for carriers. He served in WWII in the Pacific aboard the CVE escort carrier, the U.S.S. Makin Island. His duties were flying the FM-2 Wildcat fighter in the battles of Leyte-Luzon, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
He was recalled into service during the Korean Conflict and flew missions off the carrier, USS Tarawa. He remained as a reservist until retirement, attaining the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He met and married Gladys Winkelman, of Erie, on April 3, 1948. They met on a blind date set up by his best friend while Henry and Gladys were employed with General Electric Company. Neither of them liked the cold weather of Erie, so they moved with their three children in 1956 to Miami, where he worked for Dade County Public Works Department for 29 years as a civil engineer. During his time in Miami, he was a member of Perrine Baptist Church, where he served as a Deacon and sang in the choir. He enjoyed growing orchids and tropical fruit trees, collecting stamps and coins. He and his wife made their retirement home in Mainlands Unit 4, Pinellas Park, Fla., for 17 years and were members of Indian Rocks Baptist Church.
In his retirement years, he enjoyed traveling all over the world taking Gladys to all the places he had been while in the Navy. Besides his parents, he was preceded in death by his brother, Tadeusz "Teddy" Wardenga. Mr. Wardenga is survived by his wife of 64 years, Gladys, and three children, Susan (Bill) McLeer, of McDonough, Robert (Debbie) Wardenga, of Homestead, Fla., Tom (Nadine) Wardenga, of Cleveland, Ga.; sister, Eleanor Friedlander, of St. Petersburg, Fla., seven grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren. Memorial services will be held, Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 2 PM in the chapel of Ford-Stewart Funeral Home. The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service. Interment will be at a later date at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to: Billy Graham Evangelistic Association at billygraham.org, Ford-Stewart Funeral Home, Inc., Jonesboro/Stockbridge, 770-210-2700. www.fordstewartfuneralhome.com.