Mr. Alvin "Al" F. Pannell, 74

Alvin (Al) F. Pannell, age 74 of Gainesville, Georgia.

Born February 16, 1943 – Passed January 29, 2018.

Al passed peacefully in his sleep on Monday morning. He was preceded in death by his parents, Daisy and Reuben Pannell, and brother, Felton Pannell, all of Marietta, Georgia.

Al is survived by his wife of 38 years, Judy Pannell of Gainesville; daughter Liesl Pannell New, son-in-law Kevin New of Canton, Georgia; daughter Lauren Pannell McBride of Marietta, Georgia; stepson Christopher Soto and daughter-in-law Gina Arnone of Hillsborough, North Carolina; grandchildren Austin and Jordan New, Brianna and Alyssa McBride, and Sebastian and Emanuel Soto; sister Gladys Pannell Wyant and brother-in-law Joe Wyant of Gainesville, Georgia; sister Kathryn Pannell Wooten and brother-in-law William Wooten of Cartersville, Georgia; and three nieces and three nephews.

Al graduated from Marietta High School and attended Emory University. He left his pre-med studies at Emory to pursue his unbridled passion for flying. As a pilot and Major in the United States Marine Corp., Al’s small enemy reconnaissance aircraft was downed by enemy small arms fire on one of the initial takeoffs from an improvised air strip in Khe Sanh, Vietnam. Barely surviving this crash, he and his copilot were photographed by a battlefield correspondent and one of the more dramatic photos of this incident quickly appeared as the “Cover Shot” of Life Magazine. For his gallant efforts, Al received the Purple Heart, Air Medal, National Defense Medal, and many other accolades and medals of valor recognizing his courage and distinguished service while on active duty, as well as his continuing service to his country as an active flier for the Marine Corp Reserves. He joined on August 4, 1964 and retired from the air reserves in 1981. Al’s flying skills earned him a rewarding career flying for Delta Airlines, where he flew both domestically and internationally, retiring after 32 years as a valued and acclaimed Delta Captain.

Befittingly known to his family and friends as “Big Al”, he is known for his huge heart, his sizable sense of humor and extensive lust for life. To his adored grandchildren, he is known as simply “Uumpa.”

Al sought the exhilaration and reward presented by a good challenge. He never ceased moving forward in learning and mastering new passions, hobbies or interests. Following his retirement from Delta and raising Chianina cattle, he researched, studied and mastered the art of Bonsai gardening. In the same vein, he became a Master Gardener with the Hall County Master Gardeners Association. Pursing other creative endeavors, he became a true artist and accomplished wood turner. As an avid golfer, he developed “game” and enjoyed playing in several groups associated with the Chattahoochee Country Club. On a spiritual side, both he and wife Judy loved their Aldersgate Sunday School Class at First United Methodist Church. To round out his already exceptional set of “people skills,” Al was a beloved member of his weekly coffee clubs including fellow Marines, Delta pilots, and Sunday School friends.

Along with Al’s wife and his family, Memorial Park North Riverside Chapel has scheduled a celebratory service of Al’s life beginning at 11:00am on Saturday, February 3, 2018 at the First United Methodist Church, 2780 Thompson Bridge Road, Gainesville, Georgia 30501. A reception will follow in the Gathering Room.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Eagle Ranch ( 5500 Union Church Road, Flowery Branch, Georgia 30542), CASA  (603 Washington St. SW, Gainesville, Georgia 30501), or Family Promise (1001 Riverside Drive Suite B, Gainesville, Georgia 30501).


Online condolences may be made at Memorial Park North Riverside Chapel, 989 Riverside Drive, Gainesville, Georgia 30501. 770-297-6200.



Condolences 25
Bobbett Holloway 2018-01-30 20:02:30
Dearest Judy, My heart is so sad today, but nothing like yours I am sure. We have lost an amazing dear man. Thank you for sharing him with me and all the Master Gardners, as I know he spent many hours away from you and with with us. He was a fabulous help to me as I prepared for the Garden Walk this year. You are and will be in my heart and prayers...Bobbett Holloway
Judy Tolbert 2018-01-30 20:41:46
Judy and Family, words cannot express how very sorry I was to hear about our dear friend, Al’s passing. As I have talked to our friends from Marietta High School, they all said what a friendly and nice person Al was. Those of us who were blessed enough to have known Al surely will miss him. Prayers for you and your family, Judy. Will see you Saturday.
david and patsy mercer 2018-01-31 09:38:17
Judy, we loved him too, and affectionately dubbed him "Mr. Mayor", of High Pointe.
Douglas Kirkland 2018-01-31 13:30:35
It was my pleasure to fly with Al regularly in Delta's domestic operations. He was a thorough professional, and yet made a trip fun, both during the flights and on the layovers. Al's name on my rotation sheet always brought a smile of pleasure to my face, and the world is somehow a little less glorious without him. However, Heaven will benefit greatly! Semper FI, Doug
Jim Reavis 2018-01-31 13:40:15
Al, a big guy who within a moment of knowing could and would touch your heart with his listening smile and his love of life. Prayers for Judy and family and friends.
Charles Finch 2018-01-31 15:22:16
Big Al was a treasure to fly with at Delta. Respected by all. Brightened cockpits. We both served in Northern I Corps in Viet Nam flying Bird Dogs. His war stories were entertaining to everyone. There were never boring layovers when Al was on your crew. He was a favorite of so many of us.
Major General Larry Taylor USMCR(ret) 2018-01-31 15:23:29
"Dear the land that gave you birth, and dearer yet the brotherhood, that binds the brave of all the Earth" Farewell and Semper Fidelis to a great Marine.
Michele Terray 2018-01-31 16:21:41
Al was always kind to his crew and kind to me as former neighbor and Delta Air Lines flight attendant. I am deeply saddened by the news of his passing. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family, Judy.
Vince Schmidt 2018-01-31 16:32:14
Judy and Family: My condolences for your loss. Thoreau stated: "I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life ..." (Walden). Al lived large, with an inspiring presence, and the world will miss him. My love to you all.
Jane Green Truelove 2018-01-31 17:01:09
Dearest Judy, I was so very saddened to hear of the passing of your precious Al. There are simply no words when you lose the love of your life. My prayer will be for God to lift you up and hold you close in the days and months to come.
Dave Lorenzo 2018-01-31 19:50:32
Had a chance to fly F-8 Crusaders with Al before he was assigned to fly the "Birddog ". Started with Delta one month before he did. Will always remember that Life magazine picture. Al was a great stick and a pleasure to be around. Semper Fi old friend.
Lee and Kathy Lovett 2018-01-31 23:52:21
We are so sorry for your very unexpected loss. A true gentleman, Al was an asset to Hall County Master Gardeners. May each of you know God's peace and joy in your good memories.
donald richard wells 2018-02-01 08:25:41
A good friend and wonderful human being. Judy, I am so sorry.
Randy Caudle 2018-02-01 11:53:24
On behalf of the Northeast Georgia Writers Group, I extend our greatest sympathy and condolences. Judy, please know you are in our thoughts and prayers regarding Al's passing.
Martha (Marti) Wilson 2018-02-01 19:01:19
I can't believe Big Al is gone. There were four of us who flew with him a lot on International. Myself, Wanda Mc Coy, Frankie Benner and June Huermann. We nick-named him our "TOY BOY". Unfortunately. I am the only one left alive of the 4. I remember attending a 4th of July party at his house, along with my friend Johhna Tucker who was the piano player at the Munich Hilton. If Al was around everyone was happy. Judy, my heart goes out to you and your family. Love you. Marti
Mal Harper 2018-02-02 10:55:50
Hi Judy sorry to hear of Al’s passing. He was a joy to be around. Al and I had several rotations together, always lots of laughs and enjoyable flights. One story that sticks out in my mind was the one he told me about running over your foot twice with the trailer. He made it sound really funny. But I guess you didn’t find the humor in that. Sorry Al had to leave so soon.
Tom and Thelma Lewis 2018-02-02 11:08:02
Dear Judy, our hearts ache for you and family following the unexpected loss of Al. He was so full of life ... a good man, fun to be around, interesting and smart. His love of you, his children and grandchildren were evidence of his goodness. We are profoundly sorry. Prayers.
Matthew Rimmer 2018-02-02 13:09:10
I had the pleasure to meet Big through his son Chris. A very friendly, interesting guy that was easy to associate with. Rest In Peace, Big Al! You will be missed! Matthew
Denny Walsh 2018-02-02 16:57:42
Dear Judy, I had the pleasure of working with Al on the 767ER. He was a superb pilot, a great line check airman, a true gentleman and just a great guy. My life is better of from knowing. My sincere condolences.
Rachel Schneider 2018-02-02 16:57:58
I am so sorry for your loss--for our loss. Al was a very special man and a blessing to Master Gardeners. We will miss him so much.
Jim Lawrence 2018-02-02 21:58:19
I was deeply saddened when I just now learned of Al's passing. One of my hands down alltime favorite guys. I always looked forward to crossing paths with Al at Delta and our days in the Marine Corps. I am so sorry to loose such a great friend, aviator and fellow Marine. Semper Fi Big Al.
Annette and Guy Hinton 2018-02-02 22:24:39
Judy: We cannot imagine your feelings of loss for this truly special man. Al took Guy under his wing at Master Gardeners and helped him as he did so many others in his inspiring life. We know that he is God's wing man and will continue to look after all he loved. We are so very sorry for your loss.
WALLY(GW) PETERSEN 2018-02-06 10:05:10
R.M. 'Zeb' Zobenica, Capt. USMC (Ret) 2018-02-12 10:58:27
Dear Judy and family, I am saddened to learn of 'Big Al's' passing. Memory eternal. 'Zeb'
Jack and Anita McEncroe 2018-03-07 17:24:54
Al was a good friend, a great Marine, and a fearless Warrior. He controlled us many times in Vietnam and was as good as it gets. He joined Delta one class behind us and he was always a welcome sight wherever we crossed paths. Well done, Marine!! Godspeed, Crow and Anita
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