Obituaries » Lt. Colonel Chan E. McInelly
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March 29, 1935 - January 21, 2021
Funeral Home Russon Mortuary Farmington
Lt. Colonel Chan E McInelly (USAF, retired)
March 29, 1935–January 21, 2021
Chan E McInelly was joyfully reunited with Wanda Betty Hansen, his eternal companion, and infant son Brent Chan on January 21, 2021. Chan’s father and mother, Arthur and Twila, with brothers Wells, Kent, Dave (Yoland), and AJ and sister Myrna (Scott), joined them for the celebration.
Born March 29, 1935 in Escalante, Utah, Chan had five great loves: the place of his birth and the surrounding landscape; his wife Betty; his family, especially his kids and grandkids; flying fighter jets; and the gospel. No matter where Chan’s travels in the Air Force took him, Escalante was always home, a place defined by memories that came alive for his children through the stories he told every summer vacation as they drove the scenic byways that lead to “God’s Country.” Escalante is the place he learned his core values from his parents and grandparents—hard work, self-reliance, and honesty; and it’s a place that provided easy access to the two things he enjoyed most, fishing and hunting.
Escalante is also the place Chan met Betty in 1961. Following a lengthy, and transcontinental, courtship that could easily become the stuff of Hollywood legend and carried on in love letters that might rival Shakespeare, Chan and Betty were married in Centerville, Utah, on April 3, 1965. They were later sealed together in the Salt Lake City LDS Temple on June 5, 1972. Not long after Betty’s passing in 2004 after a long bout with Lupus, Chan wrote, “I’ve really missed my sweet Betty ‘Boop’ since she’s been gone. Like everyone else, we had our ups and downs, but we loved each other deeply. . . . I know she’s in a better place now, with no aches and pains, but I would gladly take care of her if she could come back.”
Chan spent the seventeen years after Betty’s passing surrounded by his kids and grandkids, and only his care and concern for them could prolong his time in mortality. No matter the accomplishment, Chan was so proud of his family. As a father and grandfather, Chan was the embodiment of selflessness, sacrifice, and generosity. There was literally nothing he would not have given or done for his family, their happiness and wellbeing.
Chan graduated from Escalante High School in 1953 and then attended the College of Southern Utah in Cedar City where he joined the Air Force ROTC. On a trip to Nellis Air Force Base, he was asked if he was interested in becoming a pilot. Having grown up a farm boy, Chan had barely seen an airplane, much less flew in one. After a short flight in a small propeller driven aircraft, Chan immediately asked, “Where do I sign?” He knew exactly what he wanted to do—fly fighter jets—and fly he did for 24 years, including two tours in Vietnam that included bombing runs over North Vietnam in his favorite airplane, the F-105 Thunder Chief. He used to say that for 24 years he loved going to work every day. Several years after Betty passed, he said, “I miss flying almost as much as I miss Betty.” After retiring from the Air Force, Chan worked as a butcher for a while and then was a Teamster, always providing for his family, but his love affair with flying never ended and his time in the Air Force proved the highlight of his professional life.
Chan’s journey through mortality had its ups and downs, its challenges and trials, but his faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ never wavered. He believed in the power of prayer. Whether in good times or bad, he found himself on his knees seeking our Heavenly Father’s direction. Following Betty’s passing, he recommitted himself to living a life that would enable him to return to her, a life that included regular temple attendance and daily scripture study. Even on dear hunts, Chan could be found sitting by the fire with his scriptures in his lap.
Chan is survived by his four children and their spouses (Bryan and Angie, Brett and Kristin, Chad and Gina, and Amy and Jason), twenty three grandchildren, fifteen great grandchildren, and daughter-in-law Jill. Chan will also be missed by his sisters, Mary (Sherrel) Davis, Judy (Lynn) Griffin, Grena Kay (Mike) Searle, and sister-in-laws Emma Lou McInelly and Phyllis McInelly.
A viewing will be held on Thursday, January 28, from 6-8:00 p.m. at the Russon Brothers Farmington Mortuary, 1941 N. Main St. Funeral services will be held the following day at 11:00 a.m. at the Farmington North Stake Center, 729 Shepard Lane. Friends and family may call between 9:30 and 10:30. The funeral service will be streamed live via the following link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/6860624966
The family expresses deep appreciation for the dozens of care givers who attended to Chan, including Dr. Jason Stinnett, who treated the cancer (chronic lymphocytic leukemia) that ultimately took his life. Because of Dr. Stinnett’s care, Chan outlived the usual prognosis for individuals diagnosed with this form of leukemia.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made in Chan’s name to support research for the treatment of chronic subdural hematomas at the University of Utah by Dr. Ramesh Grandhi, the neurosurgeon who provided such expertise and compassionate care for “Chan the Man” following a traumatic fall and in the last months of his life. Checks can be mailed to:
University of Utah, Development Office, P.O. Box 58006, Salt Lake City, UT 84158
Donations can likewise be made via, https://ugive.app.utah.
(Please reference with your check or online donation: This gift is given in Memory of Chan McInelly to support the research of Dr. Ramesh Grandhi.)