NEW LONDON — A Stanly County native who saw planes fly over England on D-Day passed away this past Saturday. James “Jip” Forte, a World War II veteran and resident of New London, died at his home at the age of 98.
A funeral service for Forte will be held at 1 p.m. today at the Stanly Funeral and Cremation Care Chapel and will be followed by a burial at the Prospect Baptist Church cemetery.
Born in 1922 to the late William Franklin Forte and Pearl Selena Griffin, Forte left his home of Stanly County to serve as a member of the United States Army in 1942.
Forte started his basic training for World War II in Aberdeen, MD, before being stationed in England for two years. As a worker for the 435th Ordinance Motor Vehicle Distribution Company, Forte specialized in servicing weapon carriers, jeeps and trucks.
After returning to North Carolina, Forte worked at Albemarle’s Wiscassett Mills, where yarns for machine gun belts and parachute harnesses were produced for the military. He finished his career as a maintenance worker at Stanly Community College.
Back in June, as Forte celebrated his 98th birthday, friends, family, and civic leaders from the community held a celebration parade in honor of Forte.
Trucks from local fire departments, members of the Stanly County Sheriff’s Office, Stanly County Marine Corps League Detachment No. 1021 Commandant Paul Hummel, and retired Air Force Major Kay Snuggs were among the many who attended the parade, which was organized by Kim Forte Russell, one of Forte’s four daughters.
“I wondered all my life why I came along ten years after my three older sisters,” Russell, who serves as VFW Post 2908’s canteen manager, posted on her social media page Monday. “God had a plan and that was for me to take care of my dad until He was ready to take him through the pearly gates in Heaven.”
Forte was an Order of the Long Leaf Pine honoree, the highest civilian honor in the state.
According to the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Society, the award is given “to persons for exemplary service to the State of North Carolina and their communities that is above and beyond the call of duty and which has made a significant impact and strengthened North Carolina.”
Memorial contributions going towards Forte’s family can be made to Hospice of Stanly & The Uwharrie or to Prospect Baptist Church. Forte is survived by his daughters, seven grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.