~ IN MEMORY ~
Navy veteran, NWA Capt. Paul Rigo Reyes
January 15, 1938 ~ March 27, 2019
Word has reached our group with the passing of RNPA member retired Northwest pilot Captain Paul Rigo Reyes, age 81. Captain Reyes joined Northwest Airlines 03-11-1968. He is survived by his wife Pat along with his children and grandchildren, plus many other family members, friends and colleagues. .
To view Captain Reyes’ obituary online please visit
A celebration of life event is being planned for later in July at the Reyes family home in Eagan, Minnesota.
~ Carol for the PCN
A Navy pilot who went on to become a DC-10 captain for Northwest Airlines, Paul died in Jacksonville, Fla., on March 27th. He was 81 years old.
Paul grew up in the Philippines and in Nantucket, Mass. He graduated from the Mount Hermon School in Gill, Mass., in 1957, and graduated from Williams College in 1962. That same year, he married Bonnie Bulger, on Nantucket, and also joined the Navy.
He’d developed an awe for flying as a boy in the Philippines during WWII, when Japanese aircraft swooped in low to strafe him while he was fetching water from the local well with his sister.
While in the service, though he recognized the potentially lethal solemnity of military orders, he also didn’t fail to revel in the exhilaration of being a pilot. He mortified his parents by taking a detour from a training exercise to do a series of touch-and-gos in his Navy jet at the tiny little Nantucket airport, and one of the framed pictures from his time at sea was of himself in a flight suit, taking a large fingerful of frosting off a cake baked to celebrate the 10,000th carrier landing—which he’d made—of his squadron, the Blue Tail Flies (VA-153). When he was older, he installed a surround-sound system in his house largely so that he could crank up the sound of jets maneuvering in “Top Gun” and other military films.
After completing two tours in Vietnam, Paul moved his family to Eagan, Minn., in 1968. The family continued to spend summers in Nantucket, and when there were strikes at Northwest—and there were many in the 1970s—he joined his father, the artisan basektmaker Jose Formoso Reyes, in his shop there. His mother was Mary Elizabeth Ham (known as Betty), whose family had a long connection to the island.
In 1995, after he and Bonnie had divorced, he married Darlene (nee Davidson, known to all as Pat). He left Northwest in 1998, when he’d reached the mandatory retirement age. He spent years afterward working on his golf game, fishing in Canada with his friend and neighbor Douglas Wills and hosting social gatherings with Pat, with whom he shared a passion for excellent food and wine.
Paul kept a special place in his heart for Mount Hermon, and supported the scholarship programs there that had so benefited him and his brother Robin. While there, he learned to appreciate classical music, to wear a coat and tie with ease and the superb social skills that served him throughout his life.
A celebration of his life will be held in July at the Reyes family home in Eagan. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to the Class of 1957 scholarship at Northfield Mount Hermon, or to a charity he also supported, Outreach Asia of Edina, Minn. His remains will be interred at Prospect Hill Cemetery on Nantucket.
Paul is survived by his wife Pat, by his daughters Koren of Westerly, R.I., Nina of Red Wing, Minn., and Paige of Roseville, Minn., and grandchildren Sydney and Avery Reyes Beattie. He also leaves a sister, Francina of Virginia, and was predeceased by his younger brother, Robin, and both parents. His stepchildren are Heidi (Frederick) Beacham of Santa Clara, Calif., her husband Miles, and their children, Masen and Taylor, and Brent Frederick of Edina, Minn., his wife Kirsten, and their children Evelyn, Brookston and Harrison.
From: William Day Sent: Thursday, March 28, 2019
Subject: NWA Pilot Paul Reyes has passed away.
Friends and Colleagues,
Pat Reyes, the wife of Paul Reyes, notified Gar Bensen that Paul passed away Wednesday evening. Pat shared that Paul’s health has been going downhill recently. About a week ago he took a fall and was hospitalized at the time of death. His was a peaceful passing.
Paul Reyes was 81 years old and his NWA date of hire was March 11, 1968.
More information will be shared by the RNPA Forum when it becomes available. Please share the news of Paul’s passing with your NWA pilot friends who may not be on the RNPA Forum distribution.