The evening of Saturday, August 28th, 2021 Donald E. Cerka, Major/USAF Retired), joined his family in heaven. He was 86 years old, born in Marshalltown, Iowa on November 12, 1934 to the late Orville Andrew and Sadie Pearl Bailey Cerka.
Sometimes in life we meet extraordinary people who have a positive and lasting impact on everyone they meet by doing nothing more than being themselves. Don was just that kind of person.
As a young boy he delivered newspapers and did such a good job, he was given a Schwinn bicycle as a reward. He grew up in Waterloo, Iowa and enlisted in the Air Force after high school graduation at age seventeen. From seventeen to nineteen and a half years, he was enlisted. At the age of 19 ½ he applied and was accepted to enter Primary Flight Training on Spence Air Base in Moultrie, GA. This Aviation Cadet Program taught him to fly and become an officer. While in Moultrie, he met the love of his life, Carolyn Ryker and they dated five weekends in a row.
Upon completion of Cadet Program, he became a second lieutenant and was flying F84’s. A year later he had graduated from the Cadet Program and was stationed to Bergstrom Air Force Base in Austin, Texas. Before leaving for Texas in March 1955, he went to see Carolyn for four days. On the second day, he proposed, and they married four months later, on July 14, 1956. He served twenty years in the Air Force which included a tour in Bermuda! In 1968 he flew A1E Skyraiders in Nakhon Phanom. After several months they requested him to go to Pleiku, Viet Nam. Don was awarded the The Bronze Star Medal which is the fourth-highest ranking award a service member can receive for a heroic and meritorious deed performed in an armed conflict. He also received The Air Medal and numerous awards and citations. He was also chosen to present flowers to Mamie Eisenhower when she and President Eisenhower arrived at Spence Air Base in Moultrie, GA. He retired from the Air Force August 31st of 1972.
He began looking for a new career and he started with cars. In the end, he successfully found that career with Allstate. He was an automobile adjuster to start and ended another 20-year career as an adjuster of major fires and floods. After retiring from Allstate, he and his friends would solve the world’s problems over breakfast every morning and coffee in the afternoons. He’d never turn down a Pepsi, (later Diet Pepsi), a homemade chocolate chip cookie or chocolate pie.
He had a number of hobbies, including building and flying airplanes, from old fashioned lined airplanes
to remote controlled. He loved racing slot cars and “hot” card games with family and friends!! He also loved motorcycles. At first it was Dirt bikes and riding in the woods and kaolin mines. It was a family affair. He also loved his Harley Davidson Sportsters and bike week in Daytona. Don and Carolyn eventually joined the Weekend Ramblers motorcycle club, made wonderful friends, and enjoyed many great times riding together. They vacationed on motorcycles in the mountains, always taking the back roads (as long as they could) to enjoy the beauty of the ride. Eventually, Don purchased the elegant and comfy Yamaha Venture Royale, their tour bike. A soft and smooth ride, just the way they liked it!
He was very funny and always willing to help anyone who needed a hand. He had a ready smile and a mischievous twinkle in his eye. He played softball in his Air Force Days and always liked watching football, sometimes three games at a time. He never complained about anything. He had many friends and was respected and admired. He was worthy of that respect and admiration as it never wavered. He was the same man at home, a wonderful loving and supportive husband. He was an outstanding father and became a close friend to his children. He loved his family with all his heart, and they loved him just as much. His grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces, and nephews all had a special place in his heart. He loved his country and was a very proud American.
He is preceded in death by his son Mark Alan Cerka. He is survived by his adoring wife of 65 years, Carolyn Ryker Cerka of Warner Robins; children, Cynthia “Cindy” Cerka of Warner Robins and Tim Cerka (Susie) of Byron. Nephew; Britt Morgensen of Savannah. Grandchildren; Christine Cerka, Jessica Cerka (Alex), Misty Cerka, and Justin Martin, all of Warner Robins. Kalen Cerka (Taylor) of Fort Valley. Great grandchildren; Riley, Shylah, Bentley, Vanessa, Damien, Maeve, Christopher, Destiny and Malaya. Sister: Margaret A. Neveril of Oak Brook Terrace, Illinois, and brother Richard R. Cerka (Lynelle) of Itasca, Texas.
Visitation will be Tuesday, September 7th from 6p-8pm at McCullough Funeral Home. Funeral services will take place at 3pm on Wednesday, September 8, 2021 in the chapel of McCullough Funeral Home. Don will be laid to rest in Magnolia Park Cemetery following the service.
Per the family’s requests masks will be required at his services.
For friends and family unable to attend at this time, the service will be streamed live via the McCullough Funeral Home Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mcculloughfuneralhome/live/.
Learn about the measures McCullough Funeral Home is taking to ensure the health and safety of our guests at mcculloughfh.com. There you can also sign an online registry for the family. McCullough Funeral Home and Crematory has the privilege of being entrusted with these arrangements.
Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Starts at 3:00 pm (Eastern time)
McCullough Funeral Home
Magnolia Park Cemetery