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John Thornton Landis

PFC in 603rd Engineer Camouflage Bn : HQ & Service Co

Military occupational specialty: 144 (painter, general)


Born 1924 in OH, Died 2007


County of enlistment: Harrisburg, PA
Other residence(s): Marion, OH; New Castle, PA; Greene Township, PA; Philadelphia, PA; Drexel Hill, PA; Media, PA
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: student
College education before the war: Philadelphia Museum and School of Industrial Art 1 year
College education after the war: Philadelphia Museum and School of Industrial Art
Source: 603rd roster from Seymour Nussenbaum's scrapbook, June 1943; Photo Caption Seymour Nussenbaum Scrapbook; Unit Shipment 10143-B, 23d HQ, from le Havre 23 June 1945;; photo courtesy Chambersburg High School and Ancestry®

John Landis was born on January 25, 1924 in Marion, OH, the second of four children. His father was a minister. By 1930 the family had relocated to New Castle, PA, and then, by 1940, to Greene Township, PA, not far from Fayetteville.

John graduated in 1941 from Chambersburg High School in Chambersburg, PA, which served a number of local communities including Greene Township. There he was active in the Hi-Y Club and the Drama Club, and served on the yearbook staff. The yearbook says that he was "the tall, silent type . . . artistic . . . talented . . . sometimes argumentative."

John went on to study at the Philadelphia Museum and School of Industrial Art (now The University of the Arts), winning a scholarship for his second year based on his high scholastic standing as a freshman. He spent the summers before and after his freshman year as a camp counselor and crafts teacher at Deerfoot Lodge, a Christian camp in upstate New York, where he had also been a camper in prior summers.

He registered for the draft on June 24, 1942, and enlisted on April 12, 1943, unable to complete his second year of college. Like many art students from the Northeast, he was assigned to the 603rd Engineer Camouflage Battalion and was sent to Fort Meade. He served in Europe with the unit and was discharged on November 2, 1945 with the rank of PFC.

After returning home, he used his GI Bill benefits to go back to school. While still enrolled, he married Jean Acken in Rahway, NJ on June 5, 1948. (Jean had served as a cadet nurse during the war.) He graduated from the Philadelphia Museum and School of Industrial Art the following year.

After graduation the couple settled in Philadelphia where John got a job as a commercial artist in an ad agency. John and Jean's first child, a son, John David, was born in 1949, the same year as John's graduation. They would go on to have four more children: Beth, Rebecca, Phyllis, and Peter.

John worked for 40 years in the Philadelphia area, retiring in 1990 as VP and creative director with Thomas J. Paul, Inc., an advertising and marketing agency.

During the early part of his career, he worked often with his minister father to deliver "chalk talks" to Bible groups, with John providing the live illustrations and often slides as well. His obituary states that he was "devoted to his faith," and served as an elder at Lansdowne Bible Chapel. He also remained associated with Deerfield Lodge for most of his life, serving as a member of the board of directors.

John continued to paint in his spare time, producing oils, watercolors, lithographs, and wood engraving prints. He showed his work locally, and won several awards. But with a busy job and a growing family he had less and less time. So, when he retired, he was able to return to painting in oils and watercolors. His subjects were usually outdoors, focusing on flowers, fruit, and favorite fishing holes.

John died on March 15, 2007 in Media, PA, and is buried at Valley Forge Memorial Gardens in King of Prussia, PA.


1930 census

1940 census

1941 high school yearbook

1941 article in the Public Opinion (Chambersburg PA) about his high school and college

1942 article in the Public Opinion (Chambersburg PA) about his winning a scholarship

1942 draft card

1943 enlistment record

1943 article in the Public Opinion (Chambersburg PA)  about his military career

1943 article the Public Opinion (Chambersburg PA)  about his military career

1945 article the Public Opinion (Chambersburg PA)  about his military career

1948 wedding announcement in the Public Opinion (Chambersburg PA)

1949 article in the News-Chronicle (Shippensburg PA) about his education and art

1950 article in the News-Chronicle (Shippensburg PA) about an art prize

1950 US Veteran Compensation Application File

1950 census

1954 article in the Public Opinion (Chambersburg PA) about his working with his minister father

2007 Social Security applications and claims index

2007 Find a Grave record (includes obituary)*1k49zyu*_gcl_au*OTEyMDIyOTA3LjE3MDYzMjAwNzY.*_ga*NTQ1MzUyODE5LjE3MDYzMjAwNzY.*_ga_4QT8FMEX30*ZDUyNzllNGQtZWExNi00MzljLWFjZjctNTQyN2VkOWViMDAxLjcuMS4xNzA2NDkyMTUwLjMxLjAuMA..*_ga_LMK6K2LSJH*ZDUyNzllNGQtZWExNi00MzljLWFjZjctNTQyN2VkOWViMDAxLjcuMS4xNzA2NDkyMTUwLjAuMC4w

2007 obituary in the Public Opinion (Chambersburg PA)

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