Earl O. Field
Published on -2/21/2013, 3:41 PM
Earl O. Field died at Via Christi Village on February 19, 2013. He was 98 years old.
Earl O. Field was born March 28, 1914, in Damar, Kansas, to Alma (Holmes) Field and Grover C. Field. Earl's father was a banker in Damar. At age 5, Earl's father purchased Farmers State Bank in Offerle, Kansas. Earl attended grade school and high school in Offerle. In 1933, he enrolled at Fort Hays State College in Hays, Kansas, and graduated in 1937 with degrees in economics and business.
Following graduation, Earl moved back to Offerle to work in his father's bank. On June 19, 1938, Earl married his childhood sweetheart, Winona M. Brecheisen. Nonie, as she was known, attended college for one year at Fort Hays State College, obtaining a three-year teaching certificate, and she taught school in a small rural school north of Offerle. In 1939, Earl took a teller position at First National Bank in Hays for Dick Mermis. On January 1, 1941, Earl went into business for himself, purchasing the J. M. Schaeffer Abstract and Title Co. in Hays, Kansas. He later changed the name of the business to Field Abstract and Title Co., which he owned and operated until his retirement in October 1976.
Following the December 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Earl signed up for pilot training in the civilian pilot training program in Hays. He was trained as an observation pilot. In late 1942, Earl was shipped to the North African Coast and later to Naples, Italy, where he flew observation missions over and behind German lines to ascertain troop movements, locate targets and pick up and deliver American personnel behind enemy lines. Earl was awarded the air medal for flying a minimum of 25 accountable missions over enemy lines in Italy and also received the Purple Heart for injuries sustained on a mission behind enemy lines.
During the war, Earl was away from home and did not see his wife for four years. Following the war, Earl and Nonie made Hays their permanent home, and Earl continued in the abstract and title business until his retirement in 1976. At the time of Nonie's death on October 2, 2009, they had been married for 71 years.
Earl was committed to the Hays community. He was a member of First United Methodist Church, Hays, Kansas. He was a member and president of Hays Chamber of Commerce and was a charter member and past president of Smoky Hill Country Club. He was a board member and chairman of Heritage Savings Association. In 1971-72, he was president and director of Kansas Land Title Association.
Earl was similarly committed to Fort Hays State University. He served the university in many capacities. He was a board member and president of the Alumni Association. He was an active Half Century Club member, and he and Nonie received the Distinguished Service Award in 2000. Earl also was an avid supporter of Fort Hays State athletics and was a member of the Athletic Association, Tiger Club and Difference Maker Club. He and Nonie were elected to the Sports Hall of Fame in 1991.
Earl also was a charter member of Wooster Society, Leadership Circle, President's Club and served on the Capital Campaign Steering Committee for the university.
Earl was preceded in death by his parents and sisters, Irene Field and Alma Lee Duesing. He is survived by nieces, Kathleen Mary Duesing and Annette Davis and nephews, David James Duesing, Daniel Lee Duesing and Eric James Duesing.
Earl is characterized as a model of competence, integrity, honesty, civility and humility. Earl loved his life in Hays, especially playing golf with Nonie, discussing politics, world events and of course, watching the Fort Hays State Tigers play football and basketball.
Funeral services will be at Hays Memorial Chapel Funeral Home in Hays, Kansas, on Saturday, February 23, 2013, at 10:30 a.m. with Rev. Jerre Nolte officiating. The viewing will be one hour prior to the service at Hays Memorial Chapel Funeral Home, 20th and Pine, Hays, Kansas. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given in his name to First United Methodist Church or Hospice of Hays Medical Center in care of Hays Memorial Chapel. Arrangements made by Hays Memorial Chapel Funeral Home.