Col. Stephen J. DeWerff, 63, of Newnan, GA, formerly of Nokomis, died on Monday, June 15, 2020, in Newnan Piedmont Hospital in Newnan, GA.
Visitation will be held Friday, June 19, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Stiehl-Dawson Funeral Home in Nokomis. Mass of Christian Burial will be held Saturday, June 20, beginning at 10 a.m. at St. Louis Catholic Church in Nokomis. Interment will follow in Calvary Cemetery in Nokomis with full military rites conducted by Waples-Bauer Post 94, Nokomis American Legion and the Air Force.
Col. DeWerff was born Sept. 11, 1956, in Hillsboro, to James L. and Betty (Durbin) DeWerff.
He was raised on a dairy farm in Nokomis with six younger brothers and sisters. From the time he was eight years old, he aspired to fly jets. He graduated from Nokomis High School in 1974 and attended the University of Illinois on a four-year Air Force ROTC scholarship. While at U of I, he pledged Sigma Pi, was a member of Air Force ROTC and obtained a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science.
After graduation in 1978, Col. DeWerff was commissioned a second lieutenant in the US Air Force. During a nine-month delay until reporting to Reese Air Force Base in Lubbock, TX, he taught agriculture and the FFA program at Pana High School and was the sophomore boys’ basketball coach.
He served as a pilot in the United States Air Force for 30 years on active and active reserve duty achieving the rank of Colonel. For most of his military career, Col. DeWerff flew KC-10 aerial refueling planes. He served in Operation Urgent Fury, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2008, Col. DeWerff finished his career as the vice commander of 934th Airlift Wing in Minneapolis, Minnesota flying C-130 Hercules aircraft.
Among Col. DeWerff’s numerous awards and decorations throughout his Air Force career are the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Aerial Achievement Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Air Force Organizational Excellence Award, Combat Readiness Medal, National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Service Star, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, Global War On Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War On Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal and many more.
In 1988, he began a 32-year career with Delta Air Lines. During his time with the company, he flew Boeing 727, MD-88, L-1011, Boeing 757, Boeing 767 and Boeing 777. He spent the last 14 years with Delta as a captain on the 767-ER, flying to South American, Central America, Europe, Africa and Asia.
In his 42 years of flying, Col. DeWerff clocked more than 25,000 hours of flying to more than one hundred countries and six continents. Flying was more than a career, it was his passion, but nothing was more important to him than his family and friends. He made friends wherever he went and always made them feel they had been friends for decades.
He was a loving son, brother, father and grandfather. The eldest grandchild on both sides of his family, a job he took very seriously, he was the rock that everyone leaned on. He was a family man, incredibly proud of each of his offspring, and did not hesitate to tell everyone how great they were. He was one-of-a-kind and will be dearly missed by all.
Col. DeWerff is survived by his loving partner, Romie Black of Newnan, GA; his parents of Nokomis; sons, William Anthony (husband Edward Norris) Dewerff of Atlanta, GA, and Robert James DeWerff of Los Angeles, CA; daughter, Elizabeth (husband Benjamin) DeWerff Fahnders of Houston, TX; grandson, James Paul Fahnders of Houston, TX; and his siblings, Kevin (Kathy) DeWerff and Nancy (Rick) Roberts, both of Bloomington, Dennis (Vickie) DeWerff of Normal, Tim (Shell) DeWerff and Kathryn Finley, both of Nokomis, and Christina (husband Brad Whalen) DeWerff of Farmersville.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Glioblastoma Foundation at www.glioblastomafoundation.org.
Online condolences to the family may be left at www.stiehldawsonfh.com.