God has welcomed his faithful servant, Garette Ertel Lockee, into heaven with great love and joy on 8.27.2023. Gary was one of six children, and he was born 101 years ago on 8.18.1922 near Pembroke, NC to Archie Lockee, and Lula Bell Lockee. Gary is survived by his devoted and caring wife, Sally Storm Lockee. He is also survived by his cherished only child, Jean Chesno (Frank) and their three children: Betsy Grier (Barron), Gary Chesno (Dawn), and Suzie Steed (James), and four grandchildren, Conley, Barron, Ava, and Chandler, all of whom he adored. Gary delighted in being a grandfather and great grandfather, and his abundant love was received with hearts that overflowed with joy at the privilege of sharing in Granddaddy’s life. He enjoyed very close relationships with Sally’s children, David (Kim), Nathaniel, and Christopher (Michelle) and grandchildren, including Tim, Nicholas Storm, Ellie, Grant, Ian, Graham, and Sarah and great grandchild, Blair. Gary was predeceased by his beloved first wife, Billie Jean Bobo Lockee (the mother of Jean), his parents, his brothers Otto and Archie, and his sister Georgia. His sisters Sylvia and Joyce reside in Texas. Family always meant so much to Gary, and each relationship was a blessing.
Gary was interested in everything going on in the world and was always an avid reader and gardener. He often warmly hosted family and friends. Conversations with Gary were filled with stories of his life growing up on a farm. He learned the importance of close family relationships and hard work as he helped his parents and siblings grow the crops and raise the farm animals. Gary prized education and knew he wanted to go to college. In order to accomplish this, he moved to SC as a senior in high school to live with his grandparents. He enrolled at University of South Carolina, and at the outbreak of World War II, he enlisted in the University’s Naval Reserve Training Unit. Later he earned a master’s degree from George Washington University.
Immediately after his graduation from USC, Gary began his military career which would span 30 years. He first served in the Pacific on the USS Laws, the only ship in his battle group which escaped serious damage. Gary also served in the Vietnam and Korean Wars, earning many wartime decorations and continuing to advance in rank. He was promoted to the rank of Captain while serving as the Commanding Officer of the USS Wainwright.
As a child, Gary loved fishing and quail hunting. His family kept hunting dogs, including pointers and retrievers, and his passion for these hobbies lasted his whole life. Gary was one of the founders of the Bird Dog Foundation, which is established in Grand Junction, TN along with the National Bird Dog Museum, the Field Trial Hall of Fame, the Wild Life Heritage Center and the National Retrievers Museum. Gary’s bird dogs won numerous field trials, an accomplishment that always made him smile.
Gary was influenced by many forebearers who set high standards for accomplishment and success. These included several generations of preachers, church leaders, and even politicians. Every time he moved to a new naval assignment, the first thing he did was find a Baptist Church for himself and his family to attend. Gary was always honored to serve as a deacon whenever he was asked to do this at previous churches and also taught Sunday School. And, he has served in numerous capacities to promote the work of his current church, First Baptist Church of Grand Junction, TN. He has very close relationships with his church community. Further, Gary was proud of his Cherokee and Lumbee heritage, and it was important to him to honor this part of his family’s history.
This summary of Gary’s history, accomplishments and interests is important but is inadequate to fully convey who this incredibly fine human being really was. Gary was a man of deep connection to what he believed mattered the most: his family and friends, the abundance of nature, his country, and his God. He believed his faith in God was the foundation for all that he might have to offer, and he was very grateful for all the blessings God bestowed upon him. Gary’s heart and faith always led him to be extremely generous in providing for his family and in supporting many other charitable endeavors. His courageous yet gentle soul changed the hearts of all those who knew him. We will forever miss him, yet our sadness is tempered by imagining Gary’s delight in heaven. Any angels who do not know about ships and bird dogs will be learning about them, and those who know about gardens will be asked to share all their tips. But first, the angels will be hearing all about Gary’s loving family.
The funeral with full military honors was held on Saturday, September 2nd at 11:00 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Grand Junction with a reception afterwards at the National Bird Dog Museum to celebrate Gary Lockee’s life.
Donations may be made in Gary Lockee’s Memory to: First Baptist Church of Grand Junction, TN, 134 Washington Ave., Grand Junction, TN 38039, National Bird Dog Museum of Grand Junction, TN, 505 Highway 57 E, Grand Junction, TN 38039-6036 or La Grange Cemetery, P.O. Box 33, La Grange, TN 38046
The family would like to express their gratitude to all of his amazing medical professionals and healthcare staff, especially to the Baptist Reynolds Hospice House for the exceptional love and care shown to Captain Lockee and his family.