‘Herby’ Toombs Jr.

Herbert Edgar Lawrence “Herby” Toombs Jr., 90, of Uvalde died on July 4, 2014, at his residence. Graveside services will be held on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Toombs Ranch near Batesville. He was born on Dec. 1, 1923, to Ethel Lee Toombs and Herbert Edgar Lawrence Toombs, as the eldest grandchild of Texas oil tycoon, T.P. Lee. As a child, Toombs spent his free time in a little wooden skiff, fishing the Houston Ship Channel and Port Aransas and exploring the streams and mountains of Colorado Springs. He attended Shreiner Institute, then a boys’ boarding school in Kerrville, before attending Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College. The moment he was of age, he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps, training at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo. He was assigned to the 2nd Fighter Squadron, 52nd Fighter Group and was a member of the American Beagle Squadron, which took its name as a friendly jab at the renowned American Eagle Squadron of American pilots who flew Spitfires for Great Britain’s R.A.F. prior to U.S. entry into World War II. Toombs flew frequent sorties until the war ended, escorting the long range bombers into Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia, and later to Munich and Vienna. The missions included bombings of the Third Reich’s oil refineries, ammo dumps, and munitions factories, as well as strafing railroads on their returns from the bombing escorts. Toombs frequently served as flight leader in his Mustang, The Yellow Rose of Texas, under the call sign “Cactus,” and to most of his Beagle friends, this was his given name. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for bringing down a Focke-Wulf 190 in a dogfight with only one of the plane’s two machine guns functioning. At war’s end, he left the Air Force with the rank of captain, and returned to San Angelo, where he met and married Gloria Callan on Oct 6, 1947. They moved to Kansas, where he worked for a family natural gas business, then to New Mexico where their families ranched, and finally settled in Uvalde. Toombs farmed and ranched in Zavala County until his retirement. The family said Toombs was an accomplished outdoorsman, fisherman and a crack shot at hunting, pigeon shoots, skeet and trap. He loved deep sea fishing for marlin and sailfish. After his retirement, he climbed mountains in Alaska to bag Dahl sheep, mountain goats, brown sheep, caribou, and moose. In his 70s he took up fly fishing, journeying to Florida, Mexico and the rivers and oceans of Central and South America to catch bonefish, marlin and peacock bass on a fly rod. According to the family, Toombs climbed trees to watch deer and made porch pets out of generations of roadrunners and javelinas at the family ranch. He was preceded in death by his parents; wife; one sister, Margaret Farr; and one son, Lawrence Lee Toombs. He is survived by two daughters, Liza Toombs and Ann Alejandro and husband, Joe Alejandro; one sister, Alice Hicks and husband, Lamar; 11 grandchildren, Dylan and Jennifer Alejandro, Callan Lee Toombs, Camille and Joe Simon, Luke and Neva Alejandro, Max Landman, Kim Hawkes Wright, Bryan and Jeff Hawkes; seven great-grandchildren, Cargil and Lawson Wright, Harllie Hawkes, Kaitlyn and Emily Alejandro, Sophie and Eliana Alejandro; and many cousins, nieces, nephews and friends. A memorial service was held Monday at 2 p.m. at St. Phillips Episcopal Church. RUSHING-ESTES-KNOWLES MORTUARY, WWW.REKFUNERALS.COM
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