Lt. Colonel Jacob L. Van Pelt (USAF retired) age 89, passed peacefully from this earth on Friday, November 17th, 2023. Jake was born on October 31st, 1934 in Staten Island, New York to Lester and Margaret Van Pelt. Jake’s list of educational accomplishments throughout his life included graduating from Ellenville High School in Ellenville, NY, Indiana Technical College (electrical engineering), Syracuse University (economics), USAF Command Staff College, along with degrees/certificates from Furman University in South Carolina, and Memphis State University where he also served as an adjunct professor in commodities trading and future.
Jake had a long and distinguished military career where he served for 32 years. He graduated from basic training in 1953 and was part of the Aviation Cadet Class of 1955 where he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. Jake was a skilled navigator in the USAF and flew multiple special missions for the United Nations and other government agencies. He was part of the Combat Crew from 1966-1968. He was the commander of the Titan II Missile at LRAFB, and took part in the launching of the Titan II Missile “Glamour Girl '' at Vandenburg AFB in April of 1967. Jake retired as the Director of Operations at LRAFB in 1986.
After retiring from the military, Jake opened Crown Jewelers in Sherwood, AR. He was a master opal cutter and lapidary with a profound knowledge and love of colored stones. Crown Jewelers remained open for 27 years before Jake finally retired to enjoy more time with his family. Jake met his true love later in life. Jake and Evelyn married in August of 2008 and enjoyed 15 years together. From running a business to traveling all over the country, Jake found his partner in life. They did everything together. In marrying Evelyn, Jake gained a bonus family who loved him fiercely and who he loved above all things in return.
Jake is survived by his beloved wife Evelyn; stepchildren Jason (Stacy) Cates of Cabot, AR, and Tina (Lance) Kordsmeier of Maumelle, AR; and brother John (Gladys) Vidor of Summerville, SC. Jake had five grandchildren whom he loved, adored, and spoiled. Georgia, Genna, Quinn, Andrew, and Hayden were his pride and joy. They could do no wrong.
The family would like to thank a few people who took care of Jake during his final days. Thank you to the CCU staff at Baptist Springhill. The care that Jake received during his hospital stay was beyond amazing. You will forever hold a special place in our hearts. Thank you to all the doctors, especially Dr. Will Keller and Dr. Zafirah Salman.
Mass of Christian burial will take place at St. Anne’s Catholic Church on Remount Road in N. Little Rock on November 27th at 10 a.m. with the rosary starting at 9:30.
Interment will take place at the Veterans Cemetery in N. Little Rock on November 28th at 10 a.m. with full military honors.
Pallbearers are Jason and Quinn Cates, Lance Kordsmeier, Randy Hansen, John Phillips, and Bill Ortner.
Memorials or donations can be made to the Arkansas Sheriffs Youth Ranch or North Pulaski Republican Women’s Scholarship Funds.