Steen Funeral Home-Central Avenue Chapel
Vinson Layman Sr., 87, passed away peacefully on Thursday, June 20, 2013, following an extended illness at his residence with his family.
Vinson was born Oct. 2, 1925, in Ashland, to the late Cora Twinam and Phillip Layman.
In 1941, he attended the Ashland Vocational School as a welding student, where he earned his welding certification. At the age of 17 he began working at Ashland Culvert Works, where he assisted in building amphibious landing craft for the war effort, and was the only Naval certified welder employed. During time spent with ACW, he began to gain the knowledge that would shape the rest of his life and the life of his family.
He joined the U.S. Army at the age of 18 and served in Patton’s 3rd Army, 3482 Ordnance MAM Company. He was deployed to France, Belgium and Germany. During his deployment he was instrumental in keeping the infantry mobile. One of his main duties was to keep the tanks running in the snow during the Battle of the Bulge. His ingenuity came in handy during a particularly heavy snowstorm. The tanks were in a valley and were having difficulty maneuvering. It was his idea to weld cleats on the tracks, a design that is very similar to what is in use today. This was hard work and it suited him. He spoke fondly of his time in the military and kept track of his time served in World War II on a dollar bill. As he would exit a city he would add it to his list. Later in life, he took many trips to visit his military buddies; he loved visiting with them and their families.
Upon returning from the war, he met his bride of 67 years, Mary Jo Brown Layman. He showed his family what it meant to truly love and care for someone. Vinson and Mary Jo were blessed with a large family and many years of joy. When they finished raising their family, their love for travel blossomed. They spent many years traveling with Bill Mordica and all of their friends in the Road Runners travel group. Their adventures took them from Majorca, Spain, to Hawaii and many stops in between.
When he left Ashland Culvert Works in 1948, he worked construction as a pipe fitter and welder. He started Ashland Fabricating and Welding in 1953. He built his shop behind his house on Carroll Street in Ashland. Initially he continued his construction career and used his free time to build things for his new customers. He focused on fabricating ornamental iron railings, fire escapes and equipment repairs. Some of that original ironwork can still be seen in homes and buildings in Ashland. When business began to pick up enough for him to sustain his wife and five children, he moved his business to a rental unit at 35th Street and Winchester Avenue in Ashland.
In 1958, Vinson took the job of constructing the structural part of the new Dairy Cheer on 13th Street for Bill Culbertson. He had hired his first construction foreman, Marion Cooper, to erect the building. The building was the first of its kind suspended by prestress cables; no columns or support walls were needed. This was also the first year he was able to take his family on a vacation.
In 1961, he had increased his clientele to the point he was able to purchase two lots where Ashland Fabricating and Welding is today. He constructed this new shop at 3321 Greenup Ave. and continued his ornamental ironwork, but with the added space he was able to take on larger jobs such as skids for fuel tanks, sign poles for service stations and corrugated pipefittings for Armco metal products.
That same year he opened and operated an airport on the river at 34th Street in Ashland. He flew a Piper Cub and then a Gullwing Stinson and a Ryan PT-22 open cockpit primary trainer for World War II fighter pilots. He used to tease Mary Jo, flying over their home and waving while she was on the lawn. This led to frequent ribbings about flying and having five children.
The 1960s also brought him some additional hands. His sons began working in their free time and when school was out. He showed them the value of hard work and doing things yourself. He also instilled in them the importance of quality and customer service. Upon completion of their schooling in the 1970s, three of his sons joined Ashland Fabricating, and 60 years later, Gary, Richard, Steve and two of his grandchildren are carrying on his legacy.
Not all of Vinson’s children had the calling to work with metal.
His eldest son, Vinson Layman Jr., opened Layman’s Meats with the assistance and blessing from his father. He was so proud of the work and quality products Vinson Jr. offered.
When he wasn’t working he spent time with his other favorite gal, his daughter Martha. Their special bond was evident. He loved to tell her stories, share adventures with her and most of all, he loved to make her laugh. He was very proud of her accomplishments in the field of education. She was definitely the apple of his eye.
Vinson soaked up every drop of life he could. He was a 46-year member of Ashland Elks BPOE 350 and Ashland American Legion Post 96. He loved Frank Sinatra, swing and big band music. He loved to dance. He’d spend hours laughing and tearing up the dance floor with his lovely wife or a dear friend. He took the time to visit his grandchildren and would spend hours playing with them. He also kept the gravesites of his family immaculate and beautifully adorned with fresh flowers. He diligently planted, weeded and watered them every summer. He formed great friendships at area businesses. He loved visiting his ladies at the bank and was always quick with a one-liner. “Have you heard the latest? It’s not out yet.” That was his signature phrase. He will be missed by many of his special friends and community acquaintances.
His life was measured in hard work and joy; very few people loved life as much as he did. He owes much of his success to never meeting a stranger, exuding kindness in even the most difficult of situations and his willingness to always lend a hand.
Vinson recommitted his life to Christ in his later years and was an active member of Wildwood Baptist Church where he served as trustee. He was much loved by his Christian family and he and his wonderful smile will be missed greatly by the church.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his son, Vinson Layman Jr.; and siblings Phillip, James, Gilbert, Bertha and Evelyn.
He is survived by a large family, which holds him in the highest regard: his children, Richard (Jane) Layman, Gary (Kathy) Layman, Martha Layman and Steve (Melissa) Layman; his grandchildren, Kim Layman, Becky (Steve) Pack, Robin Osbourne, Erica (Frank) Amato, Brandon Layman, Ashley (Richard) Layman-Bohanon, Alicia Layman, Haley K. Layman, Ali Layman, Sara Layman and Gage Layman; and his great-grandchildren, Colton, Avery, Jack, Gracen, Greer, Rilee, Carlie and Marlowe. He is also survived by many special in-laws, cousins, nieces and nephews.
Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 23, 2013, at Steen Funeral Home-Central Avenue Chapel in Ashland by Pastor Tom Leach and Pastor Jim Nichols. Burial will be in Ashland Cemetery. Military honors will be provided by American Legion Post 93 of Kenova.
Friends may call from 6 to 9 p.m. today, June 22, 2013, at the funeral home.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Wildwood Baptist Church, 3414 Charles St., Ashland, KY 41102.
Condolences may be sent to steenfuneralhome.com.