Ewell Brown Pinkston, 91, a decorated Korean War pilot and former leading executive in the corporate jet industry, died Sunday in Lawrenceville, Ga. Mr. Pinkston earned the Distinguished Flying Cross as a young Marine and later achieved the rank of colonel in the Marine Reserve. He retired from business in 1988 as the Executive Vice President for Government Sales in the Washington office of Savannah-based Gulfstream Aerospace. His wife of 67 years, Selina, died in 2011. They are survived by their five children. Born April 12, 1923, in the small South Georgia town of Parrott, Mr. Pinkston lived a life filled with great adventure, courage, spirituality, achievement, generosity and an unending love of family, faith and country. He graduated from Parrott High School, where he won four state tennis titles; Norman Junior College in Norman Park, Ga.; and Piedmont College in Demorest, Ga., where he played tennis, baseball and basketball and won the heart of his future wife, Selina Patterson from Toccoa, Ga. Brown arranged for his first meeting with Selina by seeing to it that there was only a single seat left open on the bus carrying both the men's and women's basketball teams on a road trip. In 1943, Brown and Selina were wed in a ceremony conducted by Selina's father, Methodist minister D.S. Patterson. A year later Brown enlisted in the Marine Corps and began a lifelong association with aviation, finishing No. 1 in his class of 354 at preflight training in Athens, Ga. In the Korean War, he flew Corsair fighter planes from the decks of small-scale carriers. He later distinguished himself as a senior officer, training pilots and flying everything from fighter jets to the Marine One helicopter, shuttling dignitaries to the White House lawn. In 1959 he left active military service and began his aviation industry career at Lockheed, in Marietta, Ga. While at Lockheed he attended night school and obtained a degree from Woodrow Wilson Law School in Atlanta. During his time at Lockheed, Mr. Pinkston accepted a year-long assignment to Christchurch, New Zealand, during which he made several trips to the South Pole on a project related to the company's C-130 cargo plane. During most of the 1960s, he was a sales manager for the new Lockheed Jetstar. In 1970, Mr. Pinkston took a similar marketing position with the Cessna Citation in Wichita, Kan., rolling out the company's first corporate jet. This brought him and his family from Sandy Springs, Ga., to Derby, Kan., where he lived from 1970 to 1976. In 1977 he moved to Savannah to join the company that would become Gulfstream Aeropspace. There he rose to become the firm's top Washington lobbyist and played a key role in obtaining Gulfstream's first government contracts. He had built relationships with Pentagon leaders and many members of Congress and the Senate, working particularly close with Georgia's U.S. Senators, Sam Nunn and Mack Mattingly. Following his retirement from Gulfstream in 1988, Brown and Selina retired first to Peachtree City, Ga., and then to Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., where Brown was a Board Member of the Santa Rosa Golf and Beach Golf. He resided since 2011 at the Bridge at Garden Plaza, an assistant living facility in Lawrenceville, Ga. A talented athlete throughout his life, Brown won state high school singles and doubles tennis championships two years in a row and played semi-professional baseball in the Georgia Florida League in the late 1940s. Tennis and golf remained lifelong passions, and he remained active well into his later years. A devout and spiritual man, Mr. Pinkston was a disciplined member and deacon of Baptist churches in every community where he lived. Brown was beloved by many for his devotion to family, both immediate and extended. Often was told the story of how Brown would take the family on a 50-mile detour to share a quick visit with a second cousin who might be in need, or an old acquaintance, just because it was "on the way." Brown generously welcomed relatives to live in his home for extended periods over the years, everyone from his mother-in-law to uncles, cousins, nephews and any other relations that might need a roof and a warm meal. Numerous were the friends and relatives who could count on Brown for help whenever it was needed and in whatever form it was required. Private about his charities, but generous, Mr. Pinkston tithed to his churches and established a trust fund that provided for the college educations of all his grandchildren. Brown cherished Graytona Lodge, the family vacation home that he, his parents and siblings built in 1956, in Grayton Beach, Fla. Throughout his life he continued to set an example of hard work and discipline. At age 74, while leading a family repair project, he fell off the roof of a dock, but emerged from the lake unscathed, only to smile for a picture, covered head to toe in spilled paint. He is survived by five children, Gail Brannin and her husband, Ralph; E.B. "Buddy" Pinkston Jr. and his wife, Gail; Pat Wiley and her husband, Don; Becky Pinkston Steele; Doug Pinkston and his wife, Laura Brown; sisters Ann Phillips and Dorothy Pinkston; 12 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. The family will receive friends at Wages and Sons Funeral Service in Lawrenceville 6-8 p.m. Thursday. The funeral will be 1 p.m. Saturday at McLane Lakewood Funeral Home in Lake Park, Ga., followed by a graveside service at Lake Park Memorial Cemetery. The family will receive friends from noon to 1 p.m. at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be made to Habitat for Humanity.

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  1. I am so sorry for your loss. Grief can be so hard, but our special memories help us cope during this most difficult time. May Jehovah, the God of all comfort, the love of your family and friends give you the strength you need to endure. ( 2 Corinth.1:3,4)

  2. I am so sorry for your great loss. I was blessed to make his acquaintance and spend some time with him. I appreciate his service to our country and to us.
    Donice (Dixie) Smith

  3. Gail , Ralph and family,
    We Are so sorry for your loss! What a beautiful eulogy to an amazing business and family man. Thank you Pinkston family for sharing Grayton Lodge w/extended family. We’ve always enjoyed our vacations there and enjoyed reading about and looking at Grayton lodge history along w/your family photos. Mr Pinkston has obviously left a legacy for his family and for serving his country. May god embrace your family and give you strength during this difficult time. Thinking of you, with deepest sympathy!
    Rick and Pam

  4. Beautiful and very impressive life of a one-of-a-kind great man! Prayers being said for all of you.

  5. Too Wendy. …My Deepest Condolences and Love too You and your Family!…May God bless you All!…..Ted

  6. Colonel Pinkston was a great man that I had the incredible privilege of getting to know at The Bridge. I am so sorry for your loss. I will keep your family in my thoughts & prayers.

  7. Dear Pinkston Family:
    I would like to express my deepest sympathy for your loss. May you be comforted in the knowledge he is rejoicing in the presence of his Savior. Please know that you are in my prayers.

  8. My parents so enjoyed their time with Brown and Selina. They were able to visit a few times after you guys left Derby. I’ll be remembering your family in prayer as you gather for the services this week.
    With love from Derby,
    Carol

  9. Brown was family to Marilynn (nee Tanner) and a friend, tennis partner and adversary to Bill. We will always hold him in high regard in our memories and in our hearts.

  10. Fascinating life wonderfully lived. Always was a bit intimidated when I would go to visit Doug in Derby during High School. Knocking on the front door I’d ask “is Doug here?”, his dad would look at me and say ” He’s in the subterranean chamber.” Yikes! But still cracks me up. Similarly I was always fascinated by a book in the basement on arial combat. There was obviously more to this man than met the eye of a slack jawed high school student.

  11. What a captivating tribute to a man with a big and generous heart and adventurous spirit. He chose to fill his life with love for his family and friends which was evident when you were around him. I feel blessed to have known him and his wife even if only in a small way. I can only imagine how he will be missed by so many.

  12. Dearest Family, My heart is so sad today as I remember such a Great Man. Not only a Great Father to all of you, but also such a Good Friend to my Mom and Dad. They loved your Mom and Dad so much and now they can be together forever in Paradise! I miss all the times we all had together, and he will be greatly missed by all. Praying for all of you at this sad, but also HAPPY time of celebration of Brown’s life.

  13. Gail,
    What a wonderful man he must have been. I am sure he is smiling down on you and your siblings.
    I pray you will find comfort in knowing he is at home with Jesus.
    Love you.

  14. Thank you all very much for the opportunity to work/hang out with Colonel Pinkston! He blessed us more than we could ever have blessed him. I know he is walking those streets of gold with his beautiful wife and looking forward to seeing you all when you get there too. Your in my thoughts and prayers.

  15. Gail,Ralph &family
    A great eulogy to the Colonel.
    I only met the Colonel Pinkston and his wife once, but the few days I was around them was great.

  16. This is a beautiful tribute to Mr. Pinkston. He sounds like a very special man. I’m sure you will all miss him very much. Praying for your family as you celebrate his life.

  17. Dear Pinkston Family
    I want to express my sincere condolences for the loss of your mother and father.
    My father was in the Marine Reserves at Naval Air Station Atlanta (Dobbins ) with your father. He held him in high esteem as a Marine, a flyer and as an officer. I remember the excellent example they both set as parents. Involved, caring, concerned and loving. Your family was one that everyone looked up to. What a wonderful legacy they left. I am sure they are proud of all of you. I will be thinking of you.

  18. Dear Doug, Becky and Pinkston family,
    May you be comforted by time together, warm memories and peace in your hearts. What an affirmation of living life to the fullest! Celebrate his life, be thankful and feel blessed… lucky you… what a gene pool. With sorrow and respect, Indi.

  19. Please accept my condolences in this time of grief. May the God of all comfort bring you the peace you need to endure this trialsome time. He gives us a hope for the future, promising that all those in the memorial tombs will rise again when he calls for them. John 5:28.

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