John Schafnitz, 90, a bank loan officer who trained pilots during World War II, died July 29, 2012.
He was born Dec. 1, 1921, to Frank Sr. and Susanna Schafnitz. He grew up in Billings and worked on the family farm. He later jumped on a rail car and headed for California, then hitchhiked back from Helena and began driving a soda pop delivery truck for Sunshine Beverage Co.
During World War II, he worked for Douglas Aircraft in Long Beach, Calif. In 1942 he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. In November 1943, he earned his wings and married Myrtle McCann. He was stationed in Kansas, Texas, and Florida, training pilots for overseas battle in single- and twin-engine aircraft, including the B-17.
After discharge from the Army Air Corps as a first lieutenant, Mr. and Mrs. Schafnitz moved back to Billings and he became a loan officer at Midland Bank. He retired after 37 years and traveled widely with his wife until her death in 1989.
For another 20 years he had a new traveling companion, Margaret “Marge” Scott, whom he met through his sister and sister-in-law.
Survivors include a sister, Catherine Jones; children, John Schafnitz and Jane Hughes; three grandchildren; three great-granddaughters; and Ms. Scott’s daughter and son, Bonnie and Jerry Scott.
Services were Aug. 6 at Dahl Funeral Chapel.