ERWIN — Gary Dean English, 76, of Erwin, lost his latest battle with cancer Saturday at his home with his loving wife of 55 years, Mary Elizabeth (Williams) English, by his side.

He voluntarily enlisted in the U.S. Navy and proudly served during the Vietnam War.

He pursued many concurrent employment opportunities, including heavy equipment operator, logger, welder, trucker, co-owner/operator of Main and Third Shell, and Jessie Dean Equipment. He retired from the Unicoi County Highway Department. A lifetime member of the Southside Volunteer Fire Department, he served on the Board of Directors until his passing.

He was a member of Mountain Dale Free Will Baptist Church.

His greatest enjoyment, other than his grandchildren, was flying ultralight aircraft. He became a USUA Authorized Basic Flight Instructor in order to share his love of ultralights with others. The many hours he spent at Deckers Airfield and other grass strips were the most enjoyable of his life, surrounded by family and friends who shared his love of flying. As his health worsened, he held to those precious memories and all who contributed to them.

He was preceded in death by his father: Glen English; and his mother: Georgie (Lewis) Williams.

In addition to his loving wife, Gary leaves behind to cherish his memory his adored family members a sister: Glenna Kay Effler; children: Michelle Zundel, Janet and Howard Townsend; grandchildren: Zane and Courtney Zundel, Jesse Zundel and Alicia Gordon, Brian and Jennifer Townsend, and Samantha and Derrick Townsend; six beloved great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.

The family expressed a special thanks to the staff of James H. Quillen Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Ward B(Ground Floor), and Caris Hospice staff. The loving care received during this difficult time was greatly appreciated.

The family respectfully requests the honor of your presence as we offer tribute and remember the life of Gary Dean English in a funeral service to be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the chapel at Valley Funeral Home. The Rev. Tommy Hensley will officiate. A visitation period to share memories and offer support to the family will begin at 6 p.m. and continue until time for the service in the chapel at Valley Funeral Home.

A graveside committal service will be Thursday 11 a.m. in Mountain Home National Cemetery. Those attending should meet at Mountain Home National Cemetery by 10:50 a.m. for the service.

Pallbearers will be Jeff Bryant, John Hileman, Brian Townsend, Derrick Townsend, Howard Townsend, Jesse Zundel and Zane Zundel.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made in Gary’s name to the American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 22478, Oklahoma City, OK 73123.

Condolences and memories may be shared with the family and viewed at or on their Facebook page at

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