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It was July of 1973, Eddie Rickenbacker was 82, and his wife Adelaide was going blind. Even at his advanced age he felt strong enough to take her to Switzerland for an operation that might help. Unfortunately his strength did not hold and Captain Eddie passed away in his sleep on the July 23, 1973. He was cremated and his ashes returned to America. A memorial took place in Florida at the Key Biscayne Presbyterian Church. Lt . General James H. Doolittle gave the following eulogy:
Edward Vernon Rickenbacker epitomizes those human attributes–those basic values—that have made America great. And, which, if we continue to follow them, will keep our beloved nation great. They are—not necessarily in order:
COURAGE: He received the Congressional Medal of Honor in World War I. This is the highest military honor that a grateful nation can bestow. But even more important, he had moral courage. Confidence in his convictions and courage to live by them.
INTEGRITY: His word was as good as his bond. I have known him for over a half century and I cannot conceive of his “warping a fact”. With integrity one is a whole man. Without it he is not.
PATRIOTISM: He served his nation superbly in World War I. He was America’s Ace of Aces with 26 victories in the sky. In World War II he visited almost every Theater of Operations as a personal representative of President Roosevelt. He visited the Twelfth Air Force, which I commanded in Algeria and was almost hit by a piece of flak.
INTELLIGENCE: In addition to his formal education he achieved wisdom judgment and common sense through observation and analysis. Through a careful study of his fellow man and what motivated him.
AMBITION: He practiced and believed in well organized hard work. So did our forefathers. This is certainly one of the cornerstones of our national greatness. He rigorously disciplined himself. This the best kind of discipline. A person who disciplines himself does not have to have discipline imposed on him by others.
HUMANITY: He believed he was his brother’s keeper. He was interested in and cared for his fellow man.
SPIRITUALITY: He believed implicitly in a Divine Creator. He was sure that a universe as vast and as orderly as ours – from microcosm to the macrocosm – could not have just happened. It must be ruled by a Divine Purpose; beyond the mind of man.
He spent a long and fruitful life in the service of his country and his fellow man. This is the highest duty of man on earth. He has earned his rest.
The military returned his ashes to Columbus for burial. Eddie had come home to be with his family in Greenlawn Cemetery. As the ceremony concluded jet fights from the 94th Fighter Squadron roared overhead in the missing man formation paying their final tribute to Captain Eddie, Ace of Aces.
"Then and only then can we say, when the candle of life burns low...Thank God, I have given my best to the land that has given so much to me."
Marion Schwing Ryan
Artist of Famous Eddie Rickenbacker Portrait
Born in New York in 1913 she arrived in Columbus Ohio to attend Ohio State University in 1949. Graduated from college in 1953 and continued her art education at the Columbus College of Art and Design. Her work has been seen in the Smithsonian Museum, Columbus Gallery of Fine Art as well as the Cleveland Museum of Art. She was the recipient of many wards both local and national. Marion Ryan was active in the Ohio Art community until her death in 1993