Major General Arthur Jacques “Jake” Poillon (USMC Ret.)
Major General Arthur Jacques “Jake” Poillon (USMC Ret.), 86, of Fairhope, Ala., died Friday, Dec. 2, 2011, after a life well-lived. General Poillon died in St. Vincent’s Hospital, Birmingham, Ala., after a brief illness.
General Poillon was born Aug. 27, 1925, in Boston, Mass., to Colonel Arthur Poillon and Lena Riley (Curtis) Poillon. Along with his older brother Curtis, General Poillon graduated from Groton School, Mass. Although his father and brother both served in the United States Army, Jake enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserves in 1943. When asked why he did not follow his family into the Army, he quipped, “I didn’t think I was tough enough for the Army.” He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps in August 1945, just four months after his brother’s death serving in the Pacific Theatre in World War II. General Poillon received his bachelor of arts from Princeton University. He later attended and was an instructor at both the Amphibious Warfare School in Quantico, Va., and the General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kan., as well as attending the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa.
During his career General Poillon was awarded the Army Commendation Medal; Combat Action Ribbon; Presidential Unit Citation with 1 Bronze Star; Navy Unit Commendation; China Service Medal; American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; National Defense Service Medal with 1 Bronze Star; Korean Service Medal with 3 Bronze Stars; Vietnam Service Medal with 3 Bronze Stars; Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm; Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star; Korean Presidential Unit Citation; Republic of Vietnam Meritorious unit Citation (Gallantry Cross Color); United Nations Service Medal; Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device; Good Conduct Medal; and the Legion of Merit with Combat “V” Gold Star in lieu of 2d Legion of Merit for his service in Vietnam.
General Poillon lived in more than 20 of the United States and served in China and Korea as well as Vietnam. Throughout his life, Jake returned to the seat of his maternal family’s summer home in Camden, where he met his first wife, Natalie Jean Tisdale, at the marriage of her brother to a close Poillon family friend. The couple wed in August 1954 and shared their commitment of service to the United States until her death in 1981.
General Poillon later married Virginia Mouchett, an advocate for those who served their country in the armed services and an active member of the Alabama Republican Party. The couple celebrated their 30th anniversary last September.
General Poillon’s passion for living and working on the water continued after his retirement from the Marine Corps. Poillon was assistant director for the Alabama State Docks in Mobile, Ala., and served as chief of staff for Alabama Gov. Guy Hunt. Poillon returned to Camden, where he was the director of operations at Wayfarer Marine. Poillon was an accomplished sailor and often served as a crew member on excursions from Camden Harbor to Antigua and other points south.
General Poillon was a member of the Brotherhood of St. Andrews, the Huguenot Society, and the Society of Colonial Wars. He was a 32nd degree Freemason.
General Poillon is survived by his wife, Virginia (Mouchett) Poillon of Fairhope, Ala.; daughter, Jeanette Evans Poillon and daughter-in-law Bonnie Brescia of Sherborn, Mass.; stepchildren, Kyle Garrett of Atlanta, Ga., Rush Garrett and daughter-in-law Evelyn Garrett of Fairhope, Ala., and Hollie Lacanski and son-in-law Nick Lacanski of Birmingham, Ala.; his grandchildren, Rushton Garrett, Will Bos and his wife, Hope, Caroline Garrett, Nickolas Lacanski, Taylor Bos, Grace Poillon Brescia, and Sophia Poillon Brescia; his many nieces and nephews; and friends who shared his life in the Marine Corps, Maine, Florida and Alabama.
He was predeceased by his brother Curtis Poillon (1945); son John Williams Poillon (1965); and first wife Natalie Tisdale (1981).
Services in memory of General Poillon will be held at St. James Episcopal Church in Fairhope on Friday, Dec. 9 at 2 p.m. Visitors reception from 1 to 1:45 p.m. Interment will be at a later date at Arlington National Cemetery, Va. Funeral arrangements are being coordinated by Wolfe-Bayview Funeral Home. Donations in memory of Jake Poillon can be made to St. James Church in Fairhope or the Wounded Warriors Project at www.woundedwarriorproject.org.
Condolences and memories may be shared with the Poillon family by visiting their book of memories at www.wolfefuneralhome.net.