John E. Churchwell 1941 - 2014 
NEWPORT - John Edward Churchwell of Newport, Rhode Island lost his battle with Amyloidosis and went to be with the Lord at 9:05 p.m. on Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014.
John was a wonderful man, a loving companion, caring father, devoted grandfather, dear friend and a USAF Veteran senior fighter pilot.
John was born on September 16, 1941 in Nashville, TN to Ralph Nero, Jr. and Helen Teresa Churchwell.
John graduated from De La Salle Academy in 1959 where he was the first African American to win a Rhode Island State tennis championship. John was awarded a tennis scholarship to attend Tennessee State University.
While at TSU, he joined the Air Force ROTC program and pledged Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Rho Psi Chapter. Upon graduation he was commissioned as an officer in the USAF, was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and also married his college sweetheart Bonnie Jean Bates Churchwell (now deceased) of Memphis, TN.
John had a decorated military career as a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot:
After 25 years of dedicated service, John retired from the Air Force but continued working with NASA to implement a scheduling system, and as an adjunct professor for Hampton University.
John continued to wear many professional hats. He earned his MBA from Central Michigan's Executive Masters of Business Program, was a corporate pilot, an ROTC instructor at Raleigh Egypt High School in Memphis, TN, an aeronauts engineering professor at Tennessee State University in Nashville, TN, and a business consultant.
John's roots were always with family and friends in Rhode Island. While visiting his father in Newport, John reconnected with his dear early childhood friend, Mrs. Victoria Johnson. Sharing an affinity to golfing, traveling and enjoying life to the fullest, Mrs. J (Vickie) and John hit the golf courses and airline runways (literally) all around the world. International destinations included Greece, Japan, China, Egypt, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Croatia among others. Domestically they walked heritage and buffalo soldier trails, and visited countless museums and Great Wonders of the World together. The most precious times were spent at their home on Union Street in the company of family, friends and each other.
In 2006, John was diagnosed with Cardio Myopathy. His health continued to decline and further tests at Boston Medical Center identified that John had a rare blood disorder, Amyloidosis. Unfortunately, there is no known cure and the disease continued to progress.
On Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014 at 9:05 pm, John went to be with the Lord.
John is survived by his children, Valerie Denise Churchwell of Phoenix, AZ, Kimberly Diane Churchwell Pleasant (Herb) of Solon, OH, John Christopher Churchwell of Nashville, TN; two grandsons James Edward Pleasant and Johnathan James Pleasant, life companion Ms. Victoria Johnson, father Ralph Nero Churchwell, Jr. of Portsmouth, RI, sister Flora Churchwell Prestipino of Tiverton, RI, sister-in-laws Barbara Bates Payne and Jeanette Bates Reynolds (Frank) and brother-in-law Willie Earl Bates (Jo Ellen) all of Memphis, TN, and a host of nieces and nephews. John is proceeded in death by his mother Helen Teresa Collins Churchwell and older brother Ralph Nero Churchwell III.
Memorial service will be held on Friday, May 9, 2014, at 3 p.m. at St. Joseph's Catholic Church (5 Mann Avenue, Newport, RI 02840). John will be laid to rest with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Victoria Johnson Scholarship Fund of Rhode Island Foundation, One Union Station, Providence, RI 02903 or Visiting Nurse Services of Newport and Bristol Counties 1184 East Main Road, Portsmouth, RI 02871.