Lawrence Gerard Wigbels, retired Colonel of the United States Air Force, and retired President and Chief Executive Officer of the United Telephone System – Eastern Group, passed away in Camp Hill, PA on September 1, 2013 after a long illness at the age of 92.
Wigbels served as the Air Force deputy director of command control and communications in Washington, D.C. for a year prior to retirement. In this post he directed a large staff of key military and civilian government specialists, and shared with the director the supervision of all planning and direction of communications activities throughout the Air Force.
Before his enlistment in the Army in 1941, he attended North Texas Agricultural College in Arlington, Texas. During WWII, Wigbels rose from the rank of corporal to major. He served in Europe first as Commander of the 902nd Engineer Headquarters Company in Normandy. He served with both the 101st and the 82nd Airborne Divisions of the First Allied Airborne Army throughout the European campaigns. He received service awards for the Normandy, Northern France, Holland, Central Europe and Germany campaigns.
In 1947, then Major Wigbels was awarded a regular commission in the USAF and his first assignment was at Olmstead Field (now Harrisburg International Airport).
He was then selected to attend Cornell University at Ithaca, New York where he received a bachelor's degree in the fields of physics and mathematics. He also earned his master's degree in business administration from The George Washington University. Wigbels was also a graduate of the highest national military and civilian institution, The Industrial College of the Armed Forces.
Following his retirement in 1986, Wigbels joined the United Telephone System – Eastern Group as executive vice president. As president and chief executive officer (August 1972 – January 1986), the company realized a 50 percent gain in access lines. Wigbels was active in the Telephone Pioneers, twice served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Independent Telephone Association, and was a member of the board of directors for JLG Industries, Inc., and a past board member of the Carlisle Chamber of Commerce and the Cumberland Country chapter of the American Red Cross.
Colonel Wigbels is survived by daughter Andrea Wigbels Stewart (Michael); son Jeffrey Wigbels (Tiffany); daughter Lynette Wigbels (Eugene Rice); son Lawrence G. Wigbels III (Kathy Myles); and eight grandchildren, Andrew and Michelle (Stewart); Heather, Sarah and Guy (Wigbels); Ava and Jack (Wigbels); and Haley (Myles); and four great grandchildren, Devin, Cali, Audri and Ethan. His wife, Carol Marie Smith, predeceased him in 2001. His love for country and family was evident throughout his lifetime. Colonel Wigbels will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery with his beloved wife, Carol. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Wounded Warrior Project www. Woundedwarriorproject.org.