Chester 'Soapy' Walborn

Monday, January 20, 2014

Chester 'Soapy' Walborn

Col. Chester A. "Soapy" Walborn (U.S. Air Force retired), 81, of Mountain Home, passed away peacefully at home on Jan. 16, 2014.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, at Rost Funeral Home, McMurtrey Chapel, with burial and military honors to follow at Mountain View Cemetery.

Soapy was born Sept. 8, 1932, in Catherine, Ky, to Ora Meece Roy and Leslie Hesba Roy. Through age nine, he attended a series of one-room school houses in the hills of Kentucky.

Ora later married George S. Walborn (colonel retired) who was then a technical sergeant in the Army Air Corps at Scott Field, Ill. Shortly thereafter, George adopted Soapy at age nine.

He went to school in Illinois, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Florida and Hawaii before graduating from Washington High School in Sioux Falls, S.D., at age 16.

Finishing junior college at 18, Soapy joined the Air Force, where he served for 30 years.

He flew fighters for most of his Air Force career, winning the World Recon Meet "Royal Flush" in 1956 while stationed in Germany and the Air Force Interceptor Fighter Meet "William Tell" in 1961 while stationed at Oscoda, Mich.

He flew two combat tours in Vietnam, 996 sorties, over which time he was awarded the Silver Star, nine Distinguished Flying Crosses and Vietnam's top five combat medals.

Soapy had a bachelor's degree from the University of Houston and masters' degrees from Auburn and George Washington Universities and completed Air Command and Staff at the Air War College.

Soapy retired with 8,400 hours of flying time, having been the commander of the Operations Group, the Support Group and the Vice Wing Commander from 1974-1976 at Mountain Home Air Force Base.

Soapy loved Mountain Home, and upon retirement from the Air Force in 1980, Soapy returned to Mountain Home with his son, Jack, where he began his second career as a financial planner.

Soapy always believed he was the world's luckiest person, and he spent his life consciously striving to make a positive difference in people's lives.

He coached baseball and football in the Air Force and Little League and other youth baseball since 1951.

He coached the Mountain Home Royals American Legion team from 1987 through 2004, winning 728 and losing 72. The Royals won state championships in 1990, 1993, 1994 and 2003.

His strengths were an incredible work ethic, character and integrity.

He wrote a paper in 1960 where he stated that he would be proud of an epitaph which read: "Soapy always did his best! God did the rest." He surely died feeling this way.

He is survived by his sons Chet, Bret and Jack, and his wife, Patti Walborn, and grandchildren Leah, John and Nicholas. He is also survived by his assistant of 26 years and the daughter he never had, Dena Russell, and her sons, Justin Jarvis and Pete Ranft.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to American Legion Baseball, P.O. Box 453, Mountain Home, Idaho 83647.