Cover photo for Priscilla Chase Getchell's Obituary
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1921 Priscilla 2022

Priscilla Chase Getchell

August 9, 1921 — December 19, 2022

Priscilla Chase (Morrison) Getchell of Umatilla, FL died peacefully on December 19, 2022. Priscilla was born on August 9, 1921 in Lowell, MA. She graduated from Walpole High School and then attended Boston University on scholarship. After a year at university her family relocated to Lewison, ME where she found work, and her future husband, at Sears & Roebuck. A few years later, Boston University sent her a letter asking her to consider joining the Navy. She enlisted with the Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) and was sworn in at Boston Navy Yard in December of 1942 and spent 3 years serving her country. She was a Link Trainer Operator; this is a simulator for pilots to practice instrument navigation, at Atlanta Naval Air Station where she became lead Petty Officer. In 1944, as a Specialist (T) First Class she went to Pearl Harbor where she helped run the Control Tower Operator’s School at Kaneohe Naval Air Station, then was stationed at Honolulu Naval Air Station to the Link Trainer department where she became the first WAVES Chief on that base. She returned home in February of 1946, and months later received a letter from the Navy asking her to reenlist in the Navy as a Chief and work with the Space program in Washington, DC. At this time, Priscilla had set her sights on marrying Ralph W. Getchell (Ret. Lt. US Army) and raising a family, so she recommended someone else for the position. Priscilla and Ralph married in 1948 and moved to Quincy, MA and then Braintree, MA where the first 5 of their sons were born. In 1960, the family moved to FL and settled on a ranch in Umatilla which came to be known as Trails End Ranch and Riding Stable. 4 more sons were born there, and together they ran the ranch business for 20 years. As their sons began graduating and leaving the nest, they sold the ranch and moved into town. In 1977, the same year her first 3 grandchildren were born, Priscilla graduated from Lake-Sumter Community College with her Associate in Arts degree. She worked at Umatilla High School as a bookkeeper, and while working and raising a family she went on to graduate from the University of Central Florida in 1982 with a Bachelor of Arts as an Educational Media Specialist. She returned to work at Umatilla High School, where she worked for over 20 years as a guidance counselor. After retirement she and her husband enjoyed traveling in their RV, often visiting their sons and grandchildren. After her husband’s death in 1990, Priscilla devoted the rest of her life as a volunteer to various organizations. She was a member of the Braintree, MA Women’s Club, Lake County Association of Educational Secretaries, Altoona School PTA President, Guardian Ad Litem volunteer (1990-1996), Mission Coordinator for Angel Flight (1990-2011), AGAPE House board member (1994-2000), Lake County Boys Ranch community intake volunteer (1996-1999), Friends of the Umatilla Library board member & President (1996- unknown), Umatilla Garden Club served 4 terms as President, Habitat for Humanity fundraising leader for a project in Eustis (2001-2002), Umatilla Chamber of Commerce weekly volunteer (1990s). She was also an ordained elder at Umatilla Presbyterian Church where she chaired the Member Care & Fellowship Committee, providing comfort and care to church members and community residents through home and hospital visits, meals and other gestures of love. Priscilla was named Umatilla’s Citizen of the Year in 1996. She was inducted into the Lake County Women’s Hall of Fame in 2003 and in 2014 she was inducted into the NCS (National Center for Simulation) Modeling and Simulation Hall of Fame for being a pioneer in the field of aviation flight simulation during WWII. Priscilla was preceded in death by her husband, Ralph W. Getchell, Jr, her step-son, Bruce Getchell, her son, Peter Chase Getchell and her Grandson, Luke W. Getchell. She is survived by her sons; Ret. Col. Ralph W. Getchell III (Mary), USAF, of Boise, ID, John Getchell (Chris) of Eustis, FL, David Getchell (Allison) of San Carlos, CA, Steven Getchell (Terry) of Thonotosassa FL, Tim Getchell of Umatilla, FL, Paul Getchell (Beth) of Gainesville, GA, Adam Getchell (Barbie) of Emmett, ID, and Andrew Getchell of Richmond, VA. She was the proud Nana to 18 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren and 3 great-great grandchildren. There will be a celebration of life at the Umatilla Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall, Umatilla, FL on Saturday, January 21, 2023 at 10:00 AM. Mrs. Getchell will be laid to rest at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, FL next to her beloved husband. Online Guestbook available at Arrangements by Harden/Pauli Funeral Home, Eustis.
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Celebration of Life

Friday, January 21, 2022

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