Gaylord James Wallace was born to Rial and Marjorie (Riley) Wallace on Oct. 17, 1923, on the Kelly Farm near Milford in Barton County. The family lived for a short time in Excelsior Springs before moving back down to the Jerico Springs area around 1933. Gaylord went to various one room schools in the area and completed the 8th grade in 1937. At the age of 14, he started working as a farmhand in order to provide for his mother and siblings.
Gaylord signed up to join the U.S. Army on Feb. 23, 1943, at the age of 19. He became a dozer operator with the 1st Army, 6th Engineer Special Brigade and Company D 149th Combat Engineers. He was part of the 2nd wave to hit Normandy Beach on June 6, 1944, and technically the 1st dozer to reach the beach. He was in the Battle of the Bulge in December of 1944. His unit was awarded five battle stars for five campaigns in Europe. He saw a lot of things, as did all of the soldiers in Europe at that time. He was proud of his service to his country but rarely spoke of what happened and what he saw while he was in the military. He was discharged from the Army on Nov. 27, 1945, and was awarded the Croix De Guerre for his contribution on D-Day. He came back to the United States through Ellis Island and Battery Park in New York City. He hitchhiked his way back to Missouri and began farming.
Gaylord met Donna Wright in July of 1948, when Gaylord asked his best friend to help set him up with Donna. They married on Nov. 24, 1948, in Jerico Springs. To this union were born four children, Lonnie, Jim, Sandra and David.
Gaylord loved to work on the farm and work with animals. He loved having a big garden and eating watermelon and fresh tomatoes. He worked hard in order to provide for his family. He was well respected in the community and loved by his family, friends and neighbors.
Gaylord passed away surrounded by his family on April 18, 2021 at the age of 97 years, 6 months, and 1 day. He was interred at Brasher Cemetery near Jerico Springs.
Gaylord is preceded in death by his parents; son-in-law, Sam, and brothers Kenneth, and Richard. Left to mourn his passing are his wife of 72 years; four children and three daughters-in-law. 11 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren, 20 great-great-grandchildren and four sisters, many nieces, and nephews and dear family friends.