Russell A. (Whitey) Andres, who lived the quintessential life of a member of the “greatest generation” went to be with the Lord on January 7, 2022. He will be remembered as a faithful follower of Jesus Christ, loving husband, father, grandfather, hero and friend.
Born and raised in the small Midwest town of Litchfield, Illinois, which was located on the Mother Road, Route 66, he went on to serve his country with distinction, and along with his beautiful wife Mary, raise a family, travel the world and serve the Lord.
Whitey joined the Navy V-5 program on his 18th birthday and was commissioned a 2nd Lt. United States Marine Corps and earned his wings as a Naval Aviator in 1943 at the age of 19 years.
As a fighter pilot in World War II, he fought in the Marshall and Okinawa campaign in the South Pacific theatre. flying the F4U Corsair. Most of his combat operations involved flying strikes on the different islands. HIs squadron, VMF 422, was honored for meritorious service including holding the record for the longest over-water airstrike by a single engine, land-based aircraft from Engebi to Pohnpei.
Upon returning from the Pacific in 1945, he made the most important and best decision of his life… to ask Mary Calcott to be his wife. She said yes. Mary was his rock, raised their five children while he was away and was the ultimate partner in life.
In the Korean War in 1952, as a fighter/attack pilot, he flew 100 missions off aircraft carriers in the Yellow Sea.
In 1960, he was Commanding Officer of Marine Reconnaissance Squadron VMCJ-2. He and his squadron were awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for their aerial reconnaissance operations against Cuba that was of critical importance to our national interest. It was the first NUC ever awarded to a Marine unit in peacetime. He and his decorated aircrews flew the missions that made the Cuban Missile Crisis and its 13 days in October one of the most written about periods in our nation’s history.
As a Marine pilot, he accrued 4000 flight hours and 350 carrier landings. For his service, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with 10 Oak Leaf Clusters, Presidential Unit Citation, and the Navy Unit Commendation.
After retiring from the Marine Corps in 1964 as a Lt. Colonel, Whitey joined Grumman Aerospace as Program Manager of the EA6A, the Electric Intruder. A few years later, Grumman launched the Gulfstream II corporate jet. Whitey got back into the pilot’s seat to join the Gulfstream team down in Savannah, Georgia.
As Chief Instructor for Gulfstream, Whitey would train the pilots for the customers who ordered the airplane. In 1972, McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc purchased a new G II. Kroc was used to getting the best and he set his sights on hiring Whitey to pilot his new Gulfstream. Whitey agreed and joined McDonald’s later that year as Chief Pilot.
He flew for Kroc and McDonald’s for over ten years, traveling the globe as the Golden Arches rapidly expanded domestically and internationally.
Fred Turner, Ray’s number two man and successor as McDonald’s CEO told the story of the time, he met Astronaut John Glenn. Glenn had flown the F4U Corsair in the Marshall Islands during the same time as Whitey in World War II. When Fred shared that Whitey was flying for him, Glenn told him that “Whitey was one the finest Marine Aviators that he had the honor to fly with”.
After hanging up the flight goggles, Whitey and Mary worked to become McDonald’s Franchisees. They became Owner/Operators of the new Bishop, California McDonald’s in 1982 and opened a second restaurant in Mammoth Lakes, California the following year.
After Ray Kroc passed away in 1984 Joan, his wife and philanthropist, flew up to Mammoth from San Diego to visit Mary and Whitey and to see their new McDonald’s. While there, she took the opportunity to share her plans of purchasing a new Gulfstream IV and asked whether Whitey would consider becoming her pilot. Once again, he headed up into the wild blue yonder and piloted her Gulfstream until he was 75 years old.
Mary and Whitey lived in Carlsbad, California when he retired from flying. Mary and Whitey spent the next 15 years driving across the country in their vehicle. They traveled the backroads of America stopping at museums and national parks…and rarely flew again. He loved spending time with his children and grandchildren, serving other people, his neighbors and his Church, photography, going to Costco and the beautiful Southern California weather…but most of all he loved being with Mary.
He was preceded in death by his beloved wife Mary, his parents Vesta Marie and Russell George and sister Lois. He is survived by their five children; Russell Jr. and his wife Cary; Kris Martin and her husband Billy; William and his wife Sally; Michael and his wife Connie; Geoffry and his wife Greta. His loving grandchildren Ryan; Erin Whitfield and her husband Eric; Alyssa Kennedy and her husband Tully; Michael Martin and his wife Callen; Brandelyn, Jamie Torrence and her husband Will; Mary Valdez and her husband Vince; Nicholas; Monika Goodman and her husband Matt; Will and his wife Stefany; and Madison. Also surviving him are his great grandchildren Waylon and Taylor Whitfield; Keller and Delaney Kennedy; Scott and Selma Martin; Ashlyn and Kylie; Leah Valdez; Olive, Rockwell and Marigold Goodman; Via and J.R.
The family would like to especially thank his primary care givers Nancy, Yeshi and Ricky for the love and care they provided him over the last few years. We’d also like to thank the staff at Brookdale for all of their care.