Thurman Pirtle

January 30, 1926 ~ December 8, 2018 (age 92)

THURMAN PIRTLE was born in Ardmore, Oklahoma in 1926, one of ten children of John and Courtney Pirtle. He attended Douglass High School where his keen interest in music became a priority. He served as a vocalist with the band, as a trumpet soloist and choral member in the orchestra. His participation continued in the Jazz Orchestra. Thurman was elected President of the student body and was a member of the Honor Society.

Thurman graduated from Ardmore Douglass High School and joined the U.S. Army to serve his country during World War II. Subsequently, he served as trainer in the field artillery Training Unit and finally as Assistant to the Professor of Military Science and Tactics at West Virginia State College.

In 1946, after his military service, Thurman moved to California and enrolled at UCLA where he majored in Music and minored in Biology. He moved to San Diego in 1948. He was a member of St. Paul Methodist Church and directed the Church choir for 15 years. Thurman joined the San Diego Civic Chorus and was active with that group for two years. He was a vocal soloist for numerous church and civic events. He was a member of several jazz groups in Los Angeles and San Diego and continued to love music throughout his entire life.

Thurman joined the U.S. Postal Service and moved up through the ranks from clerk to Acting Superintendent during his 25-year career. He retired from the Postal Service in 1972. The same year, he joined the San Diego Unified School District as an Administrative Assistant. He served as President of the Carver Elementary School PTA. He became Assistant to the Principal at Longfellow Elementary School. After spending 17 years with the Unified School District, Thurman retired for the second time. He received multiple commendations for his good work in the promotion of education and police/community relations.

In 1989, Thurman joined the Los Angeles Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. One of the major activities of the Tuskegee Airmen is to visit churches, schools, military, and community organizations to inform the general public about the achievements of the Black Pilots who distinguished themselves in the Army Air Corp during World War II. The objective is to inspire and motivate young people of the community toward careers in Aviation Aerospace, and related fields.

Thurman was instrumental in the formation of the San Diego Chapter in 1994 and served continuously on the Board of Directors as Chairman of the Ways and Means and Scholarship Committees. He was one of the most active members of the Chapter in carrying out the educational program. In 1998, Thurman participated in over 20 community events reaching out in communities in Chula Vista, from the 32nd Street Naval Station to March Air Force Base. Thurman gave his time unselfishly in making San Diego a better informed and more understanding community.

Though himself a role model for many individuals, Thurman listed as his role models to include his father, John Pirtle, Duke Ellington, Lou Gehrig, Paul Robeson and Lt. Gen. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.

Thurman Pirtle is survived by his daughter, Tycene Yvonne Pirtle Edd and son-in- law; Dr. Leon Edd, Jr. residents of New Jersey. He is also survived by, three step daughters and one step son, all adult children from his late wife, Ivy Pirtle. Additionally, he is survived by nephew, James Rhodes of San Diego, first cousin, Mae Frances Davis of Oklahoma City, OK and a host of nieces, nephews and many “Amazing Friends”.

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