Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Tilton R. "Slim" Jorgensen
Prisoner of War (WWII); Founder, J&J Tire Service; Owner, Newhall Ambulance Service

Tilton R. "Slim" Jorgensen, a former Santa Clarita Valley businessman and WWII veteran and POW, peacefully passed away, surrounded by his family, on February 2, 2006, following a brave, two-year fight against emphysema. He was 81.

Slim was born March 7, 1924, in New England, North Dakota, and was one of eight children raised by Pearl and Charlie Jorgensen. His father emigrated from Denmark at the age of 27, and his mother was an English descendant. However, Slim never knew the Danish language. His father, Charlie, insisted that only English be spoken at home because they were Americans.

At age 16, Slim joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in North Dakota, and two years later enlisted in the United States Army. After completing basic training in Boise, Idaho, he was assigned to a military police contingent in Turlock, California, where he met his future wife, Dona Harmon.

Slim and Dona were married April 23, 1944. Shortly thereafter, he was transferred to Indiana where he joined the 106th "Golden Lions" Infantry Division which was bound for the European Theater. He was assigned to a mortar team in the 422nd Regiment, 3rd Battalion, M Company, 3rd Platoon.

In July 1944, the 106th Division left Boston on the British liner Aquitania. In December 1944, Slim, along with thousands of other United States soldiers, was captured by the Germans in the Battle of the Bulge, an historic confrontation in which 60 percent of his division were casualties. As a prisoner of war, he spent most of his time at Stalag IX-A in Ziegenhain and Stalag IX-B in Bad Orb, the latter often cited as one of the worst German POW camps. He lost over 60 pounds while in captivity.

On April 2, 1945, the day before Easter, Allied forces liberated the camp at Bad Orb; however, it would be another 45 years before Slim would talk about his POW experiences. After being freed, Slim was moved to Camp Lucky Strike, a massive United States military tent city spread over 15,000 acres of farmland near St. Valery-en-Caux, France. Camp Lucky Strike was the principal camp used for repatriating liberated POWs back to the United States.

After his discharge from the Army in late 1945, Slim worked for several years in heavy construction. He maintained that some of the happiest days of his life were spent operating a D2 Caterpillar bulldozer. In 1949, Slim and his family moved to Saugus where he made his home for the next 45 years. All four of his children attended Saugus Elementary School and graduated from William S. Hart High School.

Slim was a past president of the Newhall-Saugus Lions Club. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, he owned the Douglas Service Station in downtown Newhall and founded the J&J Tire Service, both of which he later sold. In 1961, he purchased Newhall Ambulance Service, which he successfully operated for 33 years. In the early 1970s, the company was instrumental in establishing the first emergency medical technician (EMT) training program at College of the Canyons. In 1994, Slim sold the ambulance business to a national ambulance firm and retired to his ranch in Molalla, Ore. After his retirement, he continued to raise a variety of crops on his Molalla ranch and enjoyed his No. 1 passion: tilling the earth.

Slim is survived by a brother, Robert Jorgensen of Molalla, Oregon; a sister, Elizabeth Olsgard of Binford, N.D.; son and daughter-in-law Dennis and Kathie Jorgensen of Santa Ynez, California; son and daughter-in-law Terry and Phyllis Jorgensen of Lodi, California; son Tim Jorgensen of Acton, California; daughter and son-in-law Sheree and Ron Stephens of Molalla; his former spouse, Dona Jorgensen of Valencia, California; grandchildren Erik, Michaelee, Rachel, Kraig, Kyle, Seth, Ron Jr., and Joey; and great grandson Tyler.

A viewing will be held February 10, 2006, from 5 to 8 p.m., at the Molalla Funeral Chapel, 220 E. Main St., Molalla, Oregon. Memorial services will be held on February 11, 2006, 2 p.m., at the Seventh Day Adventist Church, 835 N. Molalla Ave., Molalla. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the American Lung Association of Oregon, 7420 SW Bridgeport Rd., Suite 200, Tigard, OR 97224-7790.

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