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Obituaries

COLONEL EDWARD IRWIN WEXLER, UNITED STATES AIR FORCE (Ret.)

Colonel Edward I. Wexler, USAF Retired passed away on June 30, 2021, after a courageous 3-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 75 years old. He was a Savannah native who lived a truly global life. He traveled the world with the United States Air Force serving in many different countries, while always staying committed to being a public servant to his hometown. Col Wexler was a proud graduate of the 1964 class of Savannah High School. He went on to attend The Citadel (“Go Dogs”) where he graduated in 1968. After graduation, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the US Air Force. That same year he married his high school sweetheart, Mary Witt Wexler. Col Wexler served on active duty as a Munitions Maintenance Officer with assignments in Colorado and a three-year tour in Taiwan, Republic of China. While stationed at Tainan Air Base in Taiwan in the early 1970’s, they were blessed with the birth of their first child, Susan Dorothy.

Col Wexler finished out his tour and returned to Savannah in 1972. He joined the Georgia Air National Guard, 165th Airlift Wing as the first full-time Air Intelligence Officer in 1974. In 1978, he was promoted and reassigned as Commander of the 165th Mission Support Squadron. In the same year, they welcomed their second daughter, Sara Claire and in 1979 Sharon Ashley arrived. He received his Master’s degree in Business Management from Central Michigan University in 1981, and was a graduate of the USAF Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Staff College, and the Air War College.

Col Wexler was deployed around the world in support of Air Force Missions including, Korea, Egypt, Rwanda, Panama, Curacao, Italy, England, and Germany. In 1992, he was deployed to Saudi Arabia supporting Operation Desert Storm. He served as Commander of the 165th Maintenance Group, leading personnel deployed to Southwest Georgia during the devastating floods of Tropical Storm Alberto in 1994. He served two years as chair of the ANG C-130 Logistics Council, representing over twenty-two C-130 wings on the national level. In 1996 he served as venue officer for the sailing event during the Centennial Olympic Games in Savannah. He was promoted to the rank of Colonel in June 1997 and his team received the Air National Guard Team Excellence Award from the Chief of Staff of the Air Force. He became the Wing Vice Commander in 2000. In 2003, he was assigned to Headquarters Georgia Air National Guard in Atlanta.

He was a life member of the Air Force Association, serving as past-president of the Savannah Chapter AFA and as Georgia State past-president for three years. He also served three years as a National Director of the Air Force Association. He completed the two-year Leadership Savannah Program sponsored by the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce. He was a Trustee Emeritus of the National Museum of the Mighty 8th Air Force. He served as president of the Georgia National Guard Family Support Foundation and vice president of the National Guard Association of Georgia. He was a trustee of the Georgia National Guard Insurance Trust, a life member of the Jewish War Veterans of the United States, and a perpetual member of the Military Order of World Wars.

His military decorations include: the Legion of Merit (oak leaf cluster), Meritorious Service Medal (two oak leaf clusters,) Air Force Commendation Medal (oak leaf cluster,) the Army Commendation Medal, the General Oglethorpe Distinctive Service Medal, and numerous other federal and state decorations. Col Wexler was selected as the 2017-2018 Veteran of the Year by the Chatham County Veterans Council. In 2018 he also received the Senior Citizens Inc. Life Well Lived Award.

He retired from the Air National Guard in 2006, having over 35 years of service. Following retirement, he fully immersed himself in service to his community, becoming the Director of the Combined Federal Campaign affiliated with the United Way of the Coastal Empire. He gave of his time to the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve; Rotary Club of Savannah West, secretary and 5-time Paul Harris Fellow; Star Base Savannah treasurer; and Center Court. He held positions at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 660; American Legion Post 135 (chaplain); Commander of Jewish War Veterans Post 320; president of the Savannah Military Officers Association; Life member of the Citadel Alumni Association; Savannah Area Citadel Club; Citadel Band of Gold participant; member of the Navy League; president of the Savannah Association of Flying Air National Guardsmen; 165th Airlift Wing Gray Eagles Society; past-president Honor Flight Savannah; and Jr. vice commander of the Veterans Council of Chatham County.

He was preceded in death by his loving wife of forty-two years Lt Col Mary Witt Wexler, USAF Nurse Corps (Ret.); his parents, Dr. William A. Wexler and Dorothy Levy Wexler, local civil rights activists and international advocates for Israel; and his brother, Savannah optometrist, Dr. Allan V. Wexler. With the passing of his wife Mary in 2009, he established a Memorial Scholarship awarded annually to exemplary nursing students at Georgia Southern. Colonel Wexler was a long-time member of Congregation Agudath Achim and Congregation Mickve Israel.

His legacy continues with his three daughters and their families: Susan and Eric Darling (Savannah) and their children Evelyn, and Elijah; Sara and Chaplain (Lt Col) Michael Bram (Los Angeles), and their children, Devorah, Chaya, Elisheva, Avigayil, and Moshe; and Sharon Ashley and Michael Walter (Denver) and their children, Simone and Corinna.

He is survived by his devoted wife of five years, Catherine Hopkins Wexler and her family. His brothers: Dr. Raymond H. (Debra) Wexler of Atlanta and niece, Dory (Ian) Palmer; Tamir (Roni) Wexler and family of Israel; his sister, Keren Lengy Wexler and family of Israel; Sisters-in-law: Gail Wexler of Savannah and nieces, Lyn (Tom) Alexander and Jan Wexler; and Barbara (Dr. William) Gustin of Savannah and nephews, Dr. James Wylie Gustin and Richard Donald Gustin.

Following his retirement, Col Wexler became an avid collector of scale model trains and was a board member of the Coastal Rail Buffs. He enjoyed showing off his train collection to his children and grandchildren. He enjoyed driving his 1987 Air Force Blue Corvette. Throughout his life, Col Wexler remained a loving patriarch to his family and a servant leader to his community.

Colonel Wexler and his family would like to thank the dedicated medical team that helped him through his cancer battle, of note, Dr. Paul Bradley; Dr. Mark Taylor; Victoria Finland, PA; Dr. Mark Murphy, Emory University Hospital and Hospice Savannah.

“To all my model train enthusiasts High Green and to all others Let’s have a beer!”

A graveside service will be held at Bonaventure Cemetery at 3:00pm on Friday July 2, 2021.

The family will be sitting shiva at 11 Lakewood Drive, Isle of Armstrong, on Sunday July 4, 2021 from 1-4pm.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to The Lt Col Mary Witt Wexler, USAF Ret. Memorial Nursing School Scholarship, Georgia Southern University Armstrong Campus, C/O Julie Gerbsch, Asst. VP for Development, 11935 Abercorn St., Savannah, GA 31419 or The National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, P.O. Box 1992, Savannah, GA 31402.

You are invited to view the funeral service of Colonel Wexler by clicking here. 

Online Condolences

  1. Jackie & Thom McKennie says:

    Our deepest sympathy and condolences to the family. Our prayers are with you. Praying that God gives you all strength, peace, and comfort. Ed will truly be missed. May my condolences bring you comEd is forever carried in your memory. Words cannot express how saddened we are to hear of your loss. May the memory of Ed bring you comfort and peace.

  2. Jim Leith says:

    I’m so saddened to hear of Ed’s passing. He was truly a man of the Georgia Air Guard and friend of the State. Godspeed to his family during this difficult time. May you now rest in peace with God my friend.

  3. Chris Hoffman says:

    Ed was a great Citadel classmate that will be missed by his Citadel classmates. Our condolences to his family and friends.
    Chris Hoffman
    1968 Citadel Class Chairmen

  4. Joe Nemeth says:

    Our condolences to Catherine and all his family. Ed was a Citadel Romeo Company classmate whom we will miss greatly. He loved The Citadel, his classmates, attended class reunions and our annual1968 Romeo Company homecoming reunions. It won’t be the same without him.

  5. Karla Badie says:

    Sir you were the best Commander ever. I loved working with you and for you. I’m truly going to miss you.

  6. BrigGen Manny Haldopoulos says:

    So many will grieve with a heavy heart the passing of this incredibly special man. He was respected and loved by many in all different walks of life. May the Angels bring him into eternal peace and happiness.

  7. National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force says:

    On behalf of the Board of Trustees, the staff and volunteers of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, we would like to extend our deepest condolences for your loss. Ed was a great friend to the Museum and his loss will be felt by all.

  8. Brent Bracewell says:

    Had the privilege of working for Colonel Wexler and quickly realized he was one of the most honorable Officers I ever served with. A true “Officer and Gentleman”. Became his friend and realized that his since of honor and love for others touched all aspects of his life. He was a mentor to me and friend. I will miss him and my heart goes out to Catherine and all his family.

  9. American Legion Post 135 says:

    The members of American Legion Post 135 would like to give our deepest condolences to the family and friends of COL (Ret)Ed Wexler. He was a very active member of our post and for the past few years we have all been touched and inspired by his strength and outstanding attitude despite this incredibly tough battle that he was fighting. His presence at our meetings and our events has been missed by all of us. We continued to pray for him at every meeting. Ed, thank you for your service to our country and thank you for all that you continued to do for our Veteran community.

  10. Pam Wozniak says:

    My deepest condolences to the family. I was very proud to serve with Col Wexler and greatly admired him for his sincere and grand leadership he showed by example. May angel wings surround you and may God watch over you at this time and always.

  11. Susan Elkins says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with Col. Wexler’s family during this sad time. Col Wexler was a fine man and very easy to work with during my time at the 165th AW. He will be missed.

  12. Mr&Mrs Robert Dixon says:

    Rest in peace brother. Thoughts and prayers are with your family. Bob Dixon Citadel 1968 R Company.

  13. Larry Levi says:

    Our deepest sympathy to all of Ed’s family. A true gentleman who will be greatly missed. May his memory be a blessing . Carol, Mark and Larry Levi

  14. john and carolyn thompson says:

    Our condolences go out to the family along with our prayers. He was a member of NARFE Chapter 249. His presence at our meetings have been missed due to his fight against his illnesses. Ed will be long remembered for his service.

  15. Jerry Kidd says:

    Col Wexler was an Honorable man. Integrity, compassion and caring were involved in his decisions as a leader and commander. I was Blessed to have him as a friend for many years. May God’s Blessings and comfort be with Catherine and his family.

  16. Wallace Middleton says:

    Ed a faithful man. In sympathy to family and friends

  17. Stanley Rosenberg says:

    My deepest condolences to the entire family. May he rest in peace.

  18. David Lotz says:

    My deepest sympathy go out to Catherine and the rest of Ed’s family along with my prayers. Ed was a good friend and fellow Director at our local Coastal Rail Buffs club and will truly be missed! We were hopeful he would be successful in his battle and are saddened by his death.

  19. Randy & Peggy Witt says:

    Catherine, Our sincere condolences to you and to Ed’s children. Ed was my room mate at The Citadel and a friend since then. We wish you the best of life and future with your family.

  20. Don and Elaine Nau says:

    Colonel Ed Wexler was the type of Officer the United States Military needed and needs. It is with great sadness to learn of his passing. It was an honor and a privilege to have known him in the Military Officers Association of America. Our sincere condolences to Catherine and all in family. He will be missed.
    Salute, good friend and Rest in Peace.

  21. Daniel Holtz says:

    Linda and I send our thoughts and prayers to all the Wexler family, especially to Catherine who loved him dearly. Ed was a stalwart member and supporter of the Georgia Military Officers Association of America (GMOAA) serving as a board member and Historian. As a past president of the GMOAA, I found his counsel helpful on many issues. As one AF Colonel to another, I can say with utmost confidence, Ed always “aimed high.” He fought the good fight with one of the most positive attitudes I have seen. May God bless him and continue to bless Catherine and the family.

  22. Jean Hughey (and Henry Hughey, deceased) says:

    Love and sympathy to the family of Colonel Ed Wexler, one of our dearest friends, whose wisdom, kindness, and help meant so much to us through the years.

  23. Baron Windham says:

    My deepest sympathy to his family! A great man and wonderful friend!

  24. CCMSgt (Ret) Steve Thornton says:

    Officer, Gentlemen, Commander, Patriot, and most of all Mentor and Friend. Many Guard members and other acquaintances were touched by his special brand of leadership and guidance, my personal success was a direct result of his ability to encourage professional development and continued education Our condolences to the family, and God Bless you during this sad time,he was a fine man.

    Steve and Delores

  25. Joel sSeymour says:

    Great military member always served to the best of
    All assignments. Will be missed by all.

  26. Chaplain Steven Thornton says:

    It was a great honor to serve with Colonel Ed Wexler in several capacities in the Georgia National Guard. He was a loving leader, a marvelous mentor and a gentle giant among men. God’s blessings upon his family and his unit, the 165th, in this time of loss.

  27. Wes Witt says:

    To the Wexler family, We are very sorry for the loss of Ed he has always been nice to us. God Bless
    The Witt family

  28. Jani McGee says:

    My deepest condolences to his family. He was always there when needed and a great friend through the years. He will be greatly missed. God bless.

  29. Dawn & Jack Lewis says:

    Catherine, our deepest sympathies. Regretfully you and Ed didn’t have enough time together…… May God Bless you and your families at this time of loss.

  30. Stacey Jackson and Timothy Gaines says:

    Our deepest condolences to the family. The Ice Man was hard but always fair. He will be truly missed.

  31. SMSgt-ret Barbara Smith says:

    It was a pleasure to have had the opportunity to work with Col Wexler at the Georgia Air National Guard Headquarters. I send condolences and prayers for peace to his family. May God comfort you among the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

    SMSgt-ret Barbara W Smith (HQ GAANG)

  32. Jeff Felser says:

    So sorry for the family’s loss and our country’s loss. May his memory be a Blessing for All.

  33. Jackie Deemer says:

    My husband served with Ed Wexler at the 165th National Guard. Tom Deemer was proud to have served with Ed and always spoke highly of him. My sympathies to the family.

  34. Steve Charnovitz says:

    This excellent and enlightening obituary revives memories of Edward as I visited his residence on 49th Street in the early 1960s. I remember him lofty, erect, confident, and in training for a future of leadership and service. My thoughts are with his family.

  35. Ronald Nichols says:

    I served with Col, Wexler while with the 165th APS. I worked with him and Mary many times and I know that This Man will be missed by all that worked with him at Travis Field. To the family may Gods hand always be with all of you. TSG (ret) Ron Nichols.

  36. LTC Charles "Buck" Bennett, Sr. USA Retied says:

    Hand Salute Sir! You were a fine gentleman and Officer. I enjoyed serving with you in the National Guard Association of Georgia. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. Rest in peace.

  37. Robert E. Lynch says:

    Rest In Peace classmate. Wonderful life of service, reunite with your loved spouse.

  38. Joe Witt says:

    We are very sorry for your loss. God Bless,the Witt Family.

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