James “Neil” Godwin of Stratford, formerly of Kincardine, Goderich and Guelph, died peacefully, with his beloved wife, Marie, by his side, Sept. 18, 2023, at the Stratford General Hospital. He was 88. The eldest of three boys, Neil was born Nov. 7, 1934, son of the late Joseph and Elizabeth (Ramsay) Godwin in Galt, Ontario. He attended elementary and high school just down the street from the long-time family home in Preston. Throughout high school, he worked part-time at the Savage Shoe Factory, a job that eventually allowed him to explore his passion for flight as he worked toward earning his flying licence at the Breslau Airport. After graduating from high school, Neil first enlisted for a short time in the Canadian Forces and trained as a pilot, always proud of his time flying the Harvard. Eventually, he enlisted with the United States Air Force and enjoyed a decorated career, travelling the world as a radar technician. He enjoyed his extensive travels throughout Europe, Saudi Arabia, India and Alaska, to name a few. He found it quite amusing that he had been vetted by every major security agency around the world, a fact that only came to light when, to the dismay of friends, he breezed through security checks in a mere fraction of the usual time when completing volunteer applications. His hard work, dedication and eye for detail cultivated a depth of knowledge that advanced him to specialist in radar instruction, whereby, he trained military personnel from all over the world. Always a life-long learner, he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Radar from the University of Mississippi and finished in the top 10 in his instructor training class in Texas. In his 20th year of service, despite being twice offered his next promotion, Neil chose to put family first, retire, and return to Canada. Neil and Marie were married April 7, 1967, in his home town of Preston, having met at Camp Hermosa many years prior. They resided in Westover, Massachusetts, where he was stationed until his deployment to Vietnam. While on leave, they each flew half-way around the world to enjoy a short belated honeymoon together in Hawaii. After Neil returned from Vietnam, he and Marie were stationed in England and welcomed their daughter, Linda. A few years later, he received transfer orders to Biloxi, Mississippi, where he and Marie welcomed their son, Jason, and lived until returning to Canada in 1979. Neil had a passion for aviation. He would also say that he had a passion for woodworking, or sawdust, as the case may be! Throughout his life, he owned his own plane, flew the Harvard, worked on airfields, attended many air shows with family, volunteered at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, with the Tiger Boys in Guelph. He relaxed on long drives on back roads listening to, and whistling along with, old school country. He certainly loved ‘Dad jokes’, puns, plaid shirts, Levi’s jeans and travelling to a favourite diner for all-day breakfast with plenty of crispy bacon! Many an hour could be spent at local airports watching the air traffic, by the lake munching on dry roast peanuts, browsing Lee Valley, reading a good book in his favourite chair and enjoying the view from his window. To those who knew him best, he was a strong, quiet man of routine, a military man on the exterior but a complete softy on the inside. Most of all, Neil was a family man and was proud of the life built with Marie, Jason and Linda. Neil was predeceased by his parents, and his younger brothers, Ken Godwin and Keith Godwin. He is survived by his wife, Marie (Patullo) Godwin; daughter, Linda (Godwin) DePass; and son, Jason Godwin. A Celebration of Life will be held at the Guelph Airport, Saturday, July 6, 2024 (rain date, Sunday, July 7, 2024). In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Stratford Hospital, the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, or a charity of your choice; arrangements entrusted to the W.G. Young Funeral Home, 430 Huron Street, Stratford; www.wgyoungfuneralhome.com.