Karl Willard Monson, 99, of Cazenovia, was reunited with his heavenly family on May 8, 2017. He was born on April 24, 1918, in Velva, ND, the son of the late Andrew and Ida Monson. He was raised in Grand Rapids, MI, and studied at Wheaton College, earning his Bachelor of Science degree in 1941.
He enlisted in the Army as a private and, six months later, Pearl Harbor was attacked. As a result of the United States entering World War II, he was recruited to be a “90-day wonder” and then promoted quickly to the rank of major. Karl served most of the war commanding the 602nd Anti-Aircraft Artillery battalion. His first assignment was in England and then continued fighting across France after landing on Easy Red of Omaha Beach. His 602nd took heavy losses in the Battle of the Bulge. Near the end of the war, at the age of 26, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and he ran a center for Recovering Allied Military Personnel, after which Karl returned home in 1946.
Following the war, he embarked upon a long and storied career in the textile industry, first at Glendale Knitting Company in Perry, NY, where Nitey- Night children’s pajamas were made. Karl developed several innovative printing processes for knit fabric and pioneered plastic feet on kids pjs. He then became president of the Atlas Underwear Company in Piqua, OH, which made men’s underwear for Montgomery Ward, J.C. Penney and Sears. They made ski-wear under the name Allen-A and manufactured the Nomex “fire-proof” underwear for race car drivers and firefighters. Atlas custom made the underwear for NASA that Neil Armstrong wore when he walked on the moon. That pair is now on display at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.
Karl married his high school sweetheart, Janna Loeks, in 1943. After the war they started their family, had four children and made wonderful memories. Family vacations often entailed traveling in their own retrofitted Greyhound bus. The couple was together for 39 years until her early death in 1982.
Karl was a life-long learner, avid reader and profound writer. He wrote “Letters to my Children” which delighted family and friends alike. The stories he wrote around the first week of April were well crafted April Fools stunts that always surprised his readers.
He faithfully served Jesus Christ and was active in his church. His strong baritone voice was an anchor for the choir. His family thrills to remembering him sing “How Great Thou Art.”
In 2014 he returned to Normandy to observe the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings. In recognition of Karl’s leadership in the liberation of France, the French Consulate awarded Karl the Medal of Honor and he became a Chevalier in the French Legion of Honor.
Besides his parents and wife he was predeceased by his sisters, Margaret Payne and Marianne McConnell. Karl is survived by his children, Janna (Ian Macrae) Treisman of Fall City, WA, Sharye (Dick Tuttle) Skinner of Cazenovia, David (Carol) Monson of Columbus, OH and Betsy (Jim) Gray of Piqua, OH; his sister, Pat (Paul) Barnard of Bushnell, FL; grandchildren, Zack Treisman, Mike (Rhi) Macrae, Sean Macrae, Duncan Macrae, Jordan (Joanna) Monson, Kenley (Dennis) Holm, Matt (fiancé Stephanie Brooks) Gray, and Jon Gray; great grandchildren, Weston Monson, Avery Monson, Quinn Monson, Thorin Macrae and Juniper Macrae; cousin, Erik (Cajsa) Nyberg of Arvika, Sweden and numerous nephews and nieces.
Memorial services will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, June 10, in the First Presbyterian Church of Cazenovia. In lieu of flowers, donations may go to the “Handicap Pass-Through Fund” at the First Presbyterian Church of Cazenovia, 27 Albany St. Cazenovia, NY 13035. To leave a message of sympathy for Karl’s family, please visit michaelebrownfuneralservices.com.