American Veteran 01

Robert Thrift Kendall Jr.

May 17, 1924 ~ February 3, 2020 (age 95)


Kendall, Jr., Robert Thrift 5/17/1924 - 2/3/2020 Jackson Robert Thrift Kendall, Jr. died February 3, 2020 in Jackson, Michigan. He was 95 years old. He was born May 17, 1924 in Jackson, Michigan to Lula Wolcott Mann Kendall and Robert T. Kendall, Sr. He is survived by his wife of 74 years, Sallie Sparks Kendall, and three children: Elizabeth Kendall Reeve (Edward), Robert T. Kendall, III (LeeAnn), and Diane Kendall Berkshire (Daniel). He is also survived by seven grandchildren: E. Jonathan Reeve (Erin), Anna Reeve Gillette (Robert), Timothy K. Reeve; Robert T. Kendall, IV (Brandi), Adam W. Kendall (Kate Leese), Emily Berkshire Tappan (Brian), Rachel Berkshire Kibbee (Andrew), and eight great-grandsons, Carter and Charles Gillette, Sawyer, Bridger and Finnley Tappan, Jack and Finn Reeve, and Guy Kibbee.

Mr. Kendall attended Jackson Schools where he met his wife Sallie in grade school. He graduated from Jackson High School in January 1942. Subsequent to service in the United States Army Air Corps, he returned to the University of Michigan, receiving the A.B. degree in 1948, his Juris Doctor from the Law School in 1951 and his LLM from the Law School in 1955. Mr. Kendall enlisted in the Army Air Corps in December 1942, serving as a Lead Bombardier in England with the 92nd Bomb Group, 325th Squadron based at Podington, England. He flew 27 missions over France and Germany in 1944 and 1945 and received Air Medals and the Purple Heart. Mr. Kendall celebrated VE Day in London on May 8, 1945. He sailed home on the Queen Mary and was reunited with his fiancee Sallie Sparks. They were married in the First United Methodist Church on October 6, 1945. He rarely spoke about World War II until later in life, when he began to share accounts of his harrowing experiences as a B-17 bombardier. Early, on his 4th mission, his plane caught fire after the gas lines were penetrated by gunfire from a German fighter. Most of the crew bailed out of the burning plane over England, but he and the pilot stayed with the plane to land it at the airbase and avoid civilian casualties. The plane was completely consumed by fire upon landing. Even more harrowing, on his second to last mission, an armed 500 pound bomb did not release, threatening the plane and crew. He straddled the bomb bay, a foot on each side of the open door, and went to work with the only tool at hand - his standard issue screwdriver. Flying 10,000 feet over the Bay of Biscay, he pried loose the bomb. He returned from the war with his favorite screwdriver.

After graduating from law school, Mr. Kendall taught at Oregon State University School of Business and Michigan State University School of Business. In 1956, the family moved back to Jackson where he joined The National Bank of Jackson as a Trust Officer. He remained with The National Bank, assuming various responsibilities and rising to Senior Vice President and Cashier until the Bank was acquired by Comerica, Inc. in 1982. At that time, Comerica asked him to establish the bank's first corporate legal department as general counsel to the bank. In addition, he held the offices of First Vice President and Cashier of Comerica Bank, Detroit, and First Vice President and Secretary of Comerica, Inc., the bank holding company. Mr. Kendall was a member of the First United Methodist Church of Jackson since his youth. He served the Church as a Lay Leader and as a Chairman of the Board of Trustees. In addition, he served on the Board of Directors of the Jackson Unit of the American Red Cross and on the Board for the Methodist Children's Home. He was a member of the Kiwanis Club of Jackson for over 60 years. At the University of Michigan, he was a member of Delta Upsilon fraternity and the Phi Delta Phi, legal fraternity. He also was a member of the American Bar Association, State Bar of Michigan, and the Jackson County Bar Association.

After his retirement, the couple returned to Jackson from Birmingham, Michigan. They enjoyed annual family gatherings up North and their winters in Venice, Florida. His children want to add that their dad was a voracious reader and lifelong learner. He could not pass by an interesting bookstore, a historical marker, or a college campus. Family always came first. We will love him forever and always. The family wishes to thank the many nurses and staff at Jacqueline House, Henry Ford Allegiance Hospital and Hospice House for their compassionate care during this trying time. The family also thanks the staff of Allegiance Home Care and Home Instead for making it possible for their father to stay at home as long as possible. A memorial service will be held at First United Methodist Church on Saturday February 15, 2020. Visitation will commence at 11:00 A.M. and the service will be held at 12:30 P.M. with Rev. Edward Ross officiating. A private burial service will be held at the family plot in Woodland Cemetery, Jackson, Michigan, with Watson Funeral Chapel serving the family. There will also be a family memorial service this summer at the 37th annual family camp, "Camp Kenlands" on Skegemog Point. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Ella Sharp Museum, Salvation Army or the Allegiance Hospice House. Watson Funeral Chapel

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February 15, 2020

11:00 AM to 12:30 PM
First United Methodist Church
275 W. Michigan Avenue
Jackson, Mi 49201

Celebration of Life
February 15, 2020

12:30 PM
First United Methodist Church
275 W. Michigan Avenue
Jackson, Mi 49201


Ella Sharp Museum
3225 4th Street, Jackson MI 49203
Tel: 1-517-787-2320

Henry Ford Allegiance Hospice Home
2150 Kingsbrooke Drive, Jackson MI 49202
Tel: 1-517-205-7600

Salvation Army
806 E. Pearl Street, Jackson MI 49201

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