Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation
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Johnnie “Gene” Nale

Born: 2/28/1925

Died: 7/8/2005

Maiden Name: n/a

Honorific: n/a

Johnnie “Gene” Nale, 80, of McAlester, Oklahoma, passed away July 8, 2005, at his residence. He was born on February 28, 1925, in Indianola, Oklahoma, to Daniel Jackson and Pearl Alice Pitts Nale. He grew up and attended schools in the Crowder area.

Gene entered the U.S. Navy at the age of 16, on November 27, 1942, and served with the Seabees in the Pacific during World War II and was attached with the U.S. Marines. During his Navy service he received the Asiatic Pacific Medal with four battle stars, Victory Ribbons, and was given the Good Conduct Medal on two separate occasions. He was discharged in January 1946.

He married Betty Crabtree on May 17, 1947, in Van Buren, Arkansas. In 1947, he joined the U.S. Army and was trained at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina. He was then stationed at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri, Salzburg, Austria, Red Cannon Range in Carrizozo, New Mexico, China, and Ft. Bliss in El Paso, Texas. While in the Army he received the Good Conduct Medal three times, the Asiatic Pacific Medal and an honor medal with two stars and the Army Expeditional Medal. In January of 1964, he retired from the Army as a First Sergeant E8 after serving 21 years.

After returning to McAlester in 1964, Gene worked for the City of McAlester for a short time and then worked as a deputy sheriff of Pittsburg County under Sheriff Jim Kindred. After this term was over, Gene went to work at the Navy Ammunitions Depot and retired in 1989. During interim times when he was laid off from the base, he worked for the National Park Service in Sulphur, Oklahoma.

Gene was a deacon and member of the Frink Baptist Church. He played softball for many years as a pitcher and coached many teams including the U.S. Marine softball team and many teams his daughter played on. While in the Navy, Gene boxed and was a Golden Glove Champion. He was very active in the Choctaw community and was the cook for the senior citizens at the Choctaw Community Center for about two years. He was also active in the archeology club in McAlester and was an avid collector of arrowheads and Indian artifacts. In 2002, after being unable to graduate from high school with his class because of joining the service during World War II, he finally received his high school diploma of which he was very proud.

He was preceded in death by his parents; three brothers, Harold Nale, Frank Nale and Ben Nale; and a sister, Helen Haynes.

Survivors include his wife, Betty Nale of the home; two daughters and sons-in-law, Michelle and Wayland Westbrook and Kimberly and Audi Shields, all of McAlester; seven grandsons, Dirk Lee of Longview, Texas, Lon Lee and wife, Tru, of St. Paul, Minnesota, Chan Lee and wife, Trina, of Krebs, Oklahoma, Toby Westbrook, Justin Wimsett and wife, Sheila, and John Wimsett, all of McAlester, and Kevin Pierce of Longview, Texas; two granddaughters, Amber Shields and Ande Shields, both of McAlester; three great-grandchildren, Ayden Edwards, China Lee and Lillian Lee; and two sisters, Joyce Wilcox of Crowder, Oklahoma, and Catherine Kypher of Smithville, Texas.