GALE W. FORTNEY
October 5, 1928 January 30, 2020
Born October 5, 1928 in Amarillo, Texas. The family moved to Grand Junction, Colorado when Gale was three years old. He received his early education, up through the second year of high school in the Fruitvale and Grand Junction school system and the last two years of high school at Shattuck Military School, Faribault, Minnesota. He then attended Denver University for one year, Mesa College in Grand Junction for one year, and Texas Technological College, Lubbock, Texas for two years.
Gale married wife, Shirley, in Sherman, Texas in 1954 and has one daughter, Shari Rodriguez; son-in-law, Manny Rodriguez; and two grandchildren: Dane (spouse Jaclyn) and Brenna (Sal) Rodriguez. He has two great-grandchildren: Emilio Vincent and Emma. He is also survived by brother-in-law, Jim Hagan, sister-in-law, Anne Fortney, and Helene Hagan. He has many loved nieces and nephews: Durk Hagan, Cheryl (Joe) Marotta, Jennifer Hagan, Lynne Vaughan, Nan Hagan, Scott (Patsy) Fortney, Brian (Teresa) Campbell, Jackie (Chris) Boudreau, Bradley (Mary) Fortney, and Kris (Bill) Patton.
Gale enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1951, entered Aviation Cadet Training in May 1952, was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant and received his Pilot's wings in June 1953. His military service included Tucson, Arizona; Tripoli, Libya; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Phoenix, Arizona; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Bitburg, Germany; Udorn, Thailand; and Dover, Delaware. He was a fighter pilot for 23 years, was stationed at several Air Force installations in the United States in addition to overseas assignments in Libya, Germany and Thailand. Additional duty included 4 years as Personnel Officer and 3 years in the Inspector General's Office. He was Detachment Commander for two deployments, one in Spain and one in the Netherlands. He was an Operations Officer at Squadron level and also spent time as Acting Commander of Fighter Squadrons. He retired from the United States Air Force in 1974 as a Lieutenant Colonel and a Command Pilot. His military awards include: the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with 11 Oak Leaf Clusters, and the National Defense Service Medal. Gale is also listed on the Air Force Memorial in Washington, DC.
Gale was a Mason for 70 years (in Mesa Lodge 55 of Grand Junction), a Consistory and a Shriner for 60 years. He belonged to both the Scottish Rite and York Rite bodies of Masonry. Gale and his wife and daughter also belong to the Eastern Star (Centennial). He is also a life member of Job's Daughters.
Gale, in addition to the Al Kaly Shrine Mule Train, where he was a member for 48 years, was most active in the International Shrine Horse Patrol these past years and was President of this group in 1997-1998. The International Shrine Horse Patrols have 120 units in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico with approximately 800 members. He has ridden in two Tournament of Roses Parades, Pasadena, California; and three Fiesta Bowl Parades, Phoenix, Arizona; and one Cotton Bowl Parade, Dallas, Texas, as well as other parades in the Western Shrine Horse Patrol Association and Central States Shrine Association, and internationally the Calgary Stampede Parade in Calgary, Canada. He has also been a Divan member "Captain of the Guard" and has been Drill Captain of the Mule Train for 42 years and President of the Mule Train three times. He was past President of Central States Shrine Horse Patrol Association and Treasurer of Western Shrine Horse Patrol Association. He participated in many Imperial Shrine Convention Parades and drill competitions.
He was a member of the Pikes Peak Range Riders which promotes the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo in Colorado Springs, Colorado. His first ride with them was in 1987, and he became a member in 1991 and rode 15 rides. He is one of three who organized the Colorado Mule Riders, President first three years, and Secretary/Treasurer for 25 years. He rode 35 rides and was an honorary life member. He was President of Colorado Corporation (Mule Haven Ltd) for over 10 years. He was the President of the International Shrine Horse Patrols (INSHP) for 1997-1998 and INSHP Shriner of the year in 1996, and was past Convention Chairman for INSHP Convention 1994-2004.
A funeral service will take place at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, February 5, 2020 at Shrine of Remembrance "America the Beautiful" Chapel, 1730 E. Fountain Blvd. A reception will follow at the Al Kaly Mule Train Tack Room, 3415 Janitell Road, Colorado Springs, CO 80906. Donations may be made to Shriner's Hospitals
Gale had a love for his country, his family, and giving back through the Shrine. He loved spending time on a mule in the mountains, and flying. He has gone west on his last flight.