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Arlyn F. Toppert

PROPHETSTOWN – Arlyn Floyd Toppert, 82, of Prophetstown, died Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, at his home.

Arlyn was born March 1, 1931, at Jane Lamb Hospital in Clinton, Iowa, the son of Floyd Toppert and Edna A. (Meier) Toppert Weber, and stepfather, Warren Weber. Arlyn grew up on various farms around the Prophetstown area, including the Woodworth Bluff area and the Leon community. After the death of his father in 1932, Arlyn and his mother moved to a 40-acre farm south of Prophetstown, located on Highway 78, that belonged to his grandparents, Frank and Maretta (Wildman) Meier.

After his mother remarried Warren Weber, Arlyn and his family lived on a farm located on the Prophetstown-Rock Falls blacktop. A few years later, they moved to a farm in Sandy Town. In 1944, his family moved to the farm that his stepfather’s parents, Samuel and Alix (Williamson) Weber, farmed. The Weber-Toppert farm was located on the Henry County-Whiteside County border, 7 miles south of Prophets-town off Highway 78. This is the same farm that Arlyn, after retiring from the Air Force in 1975, farmed until 2012.

Arlyn attended various schools in the Prophets-town area. He attended first and second grades at a school on Jackson Street, east of Prophetstown, and attended third through eighth grades at Pleasant View Grade School, in the Sandy Town and Portland area. He attended Prophetstown High School and graduated in 1948. He later went on to college at Bradley University in Peoria, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration in 1954. He spent 4 years in the Reserve Officers Training Corps at Bradley University, and was commissioned as an officer in June 1954. Arlyn began active duty in the Air Force as a second lieutenant in August 1954. Arlyn married Betty J. Immel on Oct. 23, 1955, in Prophetstown. She preceded him in death on Oct. 26, 2010.

Arlyn served 21 years as a pilot in the Air Force. He joined the Air Force and attended pilot training at Spence Air Force Base in Moultrie, Ga., from September 1954 to May 1955, followed by jet pilot training at Webb Air Force Base in Big Spring, Texas, from May to September 1955. He graduated first in his class. After pilot training, Arlyn moved to Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Wash., in October 1955. He and his family were stationed at numerous Air Force bases, including Hunter AFB in Savannah, Ga., which included 90 days in Morocco, Africa; Ellsworth AFB in Rapid City, S.D; Sheppard AFB in Wichita Falls, Texas; Pease AFB in Portsmouth, N.H.; Castle AFB in Merced, Calif.; and Dyess AFB in Abilene, Texas. Arlyn flew B-36s, B-47s, and B-52 bombers. He served in the Vietnam War flying hundreds of missions over Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. He and his crew were recognized by the Air Force for flying the historic 1,000th B-52 combat sortie of the Vietnam War. Throughout much of his career, Arlyn spent 1 week per month on nuclear ground alert, requiring he and his crew to be ready to launch a nuclear-weapon-loaded B-52 on a Cold War mission within minutes of notification.

He later served as the 337th Bombardment Squadron Commander at Dyess AFB, where he retired at the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1975, after 21 years in the USAF. In 1975, Arlyn, along with his wife, Betty, and his children, moved back home to Prophets-town and began his second career farming the “Weber-Toppert” farm until 2012.

He was a member of American Legion Post 1191 in Hooppole. Arlyn enjoyed softball, bowling, golfing, fishing, and hunting. In his later years, he was an avid reader, frequenting the Henry C. Adams Memorial Library weekly.

Survivors include one daughter, Bethany (John Butemeyer, Ph.D.) Toppert, Ph.D., of Grapevine, Texas; three sons, Mark (Jane) Toppert of Mullin, Texas, Col. Kent (Gaye) Toppert of New Braunfels, Texas, and Lt. Col. Gary (Marcy) Toppert of Abilene; 11 grandchildren, Allie and Andrew Butemeyer, Rachel (Clint) Bentley, Jessica and Paige Toppert, Lindsay (Kevin) Lammers and Travis Toppert, and Sarah, Austin, Grace, and Rebecca Toppert; and one sister, Charlene Weber Hanson of Prophetstown.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Betty; his parents, Floyd and Edna; and his stepfather, Warren Weber.

A gathering of friends and family will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at Bosma-Gibson Funeral Home in Prophetstown. Visitation will be from 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday and the funeral at 11 a.m. Saturday at Leon United Methodist Church in Prophetstown, with the Rev. Mark Curtis, pastor, officiating. Interment will be at Leon Cemetery in Prophetstown.

Memorials have been established to Henry C. Adams Memorial in Prophetstown and Hooppole American Legion Post 1191.

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