John C. Commander

February 18th, 1924February 14th, 2019

John Curtis Commander, a longtime resident of Idaho Falls, passed away February 14th, 2019 at the Balfour Wellshire Nursing Care Unit in Louisville, Colorado. John came to Idaho Falls in 1969 to work at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory (INEL), raised his family with his wife Glory, and was an active community member until he left due to health reasons in 2009.

John was born February 18, 1924 in South Gate, California to Thomas Bernard Commander and Mary Elizabeth Commander. He remained in southern California throughout his childhood and early adult life. He graduated from South Gate High School in 1942 and attended several colleges via the GI Bill including the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), University of Southern California (USC), and Brigham Young University (BYU). In 1949 he obtained his Bachelor of Science from USC in Civil Engineering.

John enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 after graduating high school and served in the Pacific Theater of World War II. He reported to duty with the 40th Infantry Division and was assigned to the 625 Field Artillery Battalion. Upon the close of WWII, he remained with the National Guard and was again called to duty in 1951 to serve in the Korean War as 1st Lieutenant Survey Officer. During his active duty he received the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart medals. Upon returning from WWII he met Glory Sims and they were married in 1949. Family life began after the Korean war and they had three sons; Mark, Bob, and Brett. Their first family home was in Monterey Park, CA.

John was a civil engineer and had an illustrious career starting with Aerojet Corporation’s Rocket Facility in Los Angeles. While still with Aerojet, he transferred to INEL in 1969, which began his life in Idaho Falls. He held Professional Engineering Licenses in California and Idaho. He remained with the INEL throughout several contracts including Aerojet, EG&G, and Bechtel. Upon retirement in 1985, he was a consultant to Princeton University Physics Department to help build the first Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor.

John was the consummate volunteer and led by example. He was always active with his family and with the community. He served on numerous community boards including the YMCA, Boy Scouts of America, Toast Masters, Elks Club, Rotary Club, Idaho Falls Ski Team and Idaho Falls Ski Club. He was himself an Eagle Scout and while in Idaho Falls was the Scout Master of Troop 387 for 12 years. His three sons followed suit and also earned the rank of Eagle Scout.

John had many hobbies and he loved the outdoors, which tied in well with his volunteer addiction. He guided the Boy Scouts on numerous 50-mile backpack trips in the wilderness and John and Glory could also be found frozen to the side of a mountain while volunteering at ski races or ski patrolling at Kelly Canyon. He was so happy when he turned 70 because he could ski for free at most mountains. His greatest outdoor passion at home was his garden which covered much of his yard with flowers and vegetables. He also had an alternate identity as the “Wild Asparagus Hunter” who covered thousands of miles on his bicycle harvesting numerous stashes along the county road ditches.

John is survived by his three sons and their wives; Mark and Mary Commander of Superior, CO, Bob and Kathy Commander of Holladay, UT, and Brett and Lori Commander of Louisville, CO; his sister Barbara Spengler in Sacramento, CA; and his seven grandchildren (Brooke, Andrew, Morgan, Jamie, Samantha, Gabrielle, and Jachelle), as well as several nieces, nephews and their families.

He was preceded in death by his parents Tom and Elizabeth Commander; his wife Glory Commander; and his brother Robert Commander - another longtime icon of Idaho Falls. John’s legacy was that he always made things better than he found them. For that reason and many others, he is greatly missed in this world. The next world has been blessed by his arrival.

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Condolences

Mark, Mary and the Commander family: I am sorry to hear of John's passing. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you at this difficult time. Beth Riley
Mary, Mark and family. Sending love to you during this difficult time.
Mary, Mark and family. Sending love to you during this difficult time.
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