Dedicated to country and family
By Lynn Zahorik; photos courtesy of the Castleberry family
With nine decades of life to his credit, Solomon Castleberry has led a storied life driven by his dedication to his country and his family. As we pause to recognize fathers of all ages this Father’s Day, we are especially proud to celebrate 94-year-old Solomon Castleberry who has been a dad for 71 years.
Coming from humble beginnings, Solomon Castleberry Jr. was born in rural Mississippi on September 6, 1925. At the age of 4 and following the death of his father, Solomon and his mother and four siblings relocated to rural Oklahoma, outside the small town of Tryon. In the midst of the Depression, they eked out a meager living share-cropping. During this time Solomon met his future wife and lifelong companion, Twilla, who lived in a neighboring town.
Solomon, who most often goes by “Sol” or “Jr.”, enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1943 and was trained on the B-29 bomber. He got his first glimpse of Colorado when he did some training at Lowry Field in Denver. He deployed to Okinawa toward the end of World War II and was a tail gunner on numerous “cleanup” missions at the end of the war. Solomon recalls being lucky to be alive today. Due to a severe case of mumps, he was scratched from a flight which ended up crashing and killing many of his fellow crew members.
In 1945, Solomon left the U.S. Army and started a new life with his bride, Twilla. They were blessed with two sons, Myron and Mel, who illuminated their lives. They settled in Midwest City, Oklahoma, just a few miles outside of Tinker Air Force Base, where Solomon spent his entire career in missile technology and computer systems as a civilian with the U.S. Air Force. His work was demanding and involved much travel, but once arriving home, he immersed himself in the joys of parenthood.
Upon retirement in 1973, the Castleberrys moved back to the peace and quiet of the farming communities where they had begun their lives. Sol cultivated his green thumb with his vegetable and flower gardens, and his yard was the envy of the neighborhood. He enjoyed playing golf, fishing and watching NASCAR. Solomon and Twilla have treasured their time with their family, which has blossomed from two children into five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. “I love knowing that I have been a good example to my children and that has been passed down to the next generations,” remarked Castleberry.
“Seeing everyone grow up and experience their own lives and successes and start their own families makes me proud. I am blessed to have had so many years to spend with my wife and family.” Sadly, the Castleberrys did mourn the loss of their oldest son Myron last year, but remain in touch with all of his extended offspring as often as possible.
Longing to be surrounded and supported by family and drawn to the Colorado landscape which they love, Solomon and Twilla moved to Legacy Village of Castle Pines in November 2019. They had been impressed by the area each time they visited Mel and his family who were residents of the Hidden Pointe neighborhood. They have found an immediate community of friends at Legacy Village of Castle Pines, and Sol especially enjoys meeting and sharing stories with other veterans. The Castleberrys are looking forward to celebrating their 75th wedding anniversary later this year.