Louis Joseph Stoffer, age 97, passed away peacefully on March 16, 2022. He was born in Tacoma on December 21, 1924, to Louis and Anna (Exner) Stoffer.
Louis moved with his family to Centralia in 1926 where he lived on ford’s Prairie ever since. He attended 8 grades at Ford’s Prairie School and later graduated from Centralia High School in 1942.
He was drafted into the US Army Air Force in 1943 where he became a flight engineer on a B-17 Flying Fortress. He was assigned to the 8th Air Force, 398th Bomb Group, 600th Squadron based in Nuthampstead, England. He successfully flew 35 combat missions over Europe. During this time, he survived a plane crash that killed two of his flight crew. On another mission, he was injured by flak that was embedded into the bridge of his nose and has never been removed.
Following the end of the war, Louis returned home to Centralia planning to attend college at the University of Washington. Instead, he met his future wife, Betty Grimes, at a dance that weekend. They were happily married for over 68 years. Betty and Louis had two children, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Louis joined his father’s business, Stoffer and Son Sheet Metal, where he had previously helped before the war in his childhood. Following his father’s death in 1956, Louis took over the business for himself and later built a new shop building to expand the business with his son, Gary. Louis continued to work at the shop full time until 2021.
Louis was active in the 8th Air Force Historical Society and the 398th Bomb Group Association, serving for several years as a board member of the later. He helped fundraise and build several memorials at the 8th Air Force Museum in Savannah, Georgia and in England. He remained lifelong friends with his flight crew and attended annual crew reunions all over the country.
Louis was involved in planning reunions for the Centralia High School Class of 1942 and served as chairman of a project to install the sandstone columns in front of the high school. Additionally, he enjoyed traveling and visited Europe extensively as well as China, Japan, and Mexico, and 39 US states.
Louis was preceded in death by his wife, Betty (Grimes) Stoffer in 2014 and sister Helen Bell (Stoffer) in 2013. He is survived by his daughter Patricia (Steve) Pennak; son Gary (Mary Anne) Stoffer; grandchildren Alexa (Ben) Betz, Jonathan (Mary) Stoffer, Joseph Stoffer and Julie (Ronald) Welty; and five great-grandchildren.
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