~ IN MEMORY ~
Military veteran, NWA Capt. Captain John C. Carlson
July 28, 1934 – December 22, 2018
Belated news....as reported recently in the March issue of ALPA Air Line Pilot magazine’s In Memoriam column, the passing of RNPA member retired Northwest Airlines pilot Captain John Clarence Carlson, age 84. Captain Carlson first joined Northwest Airlines 09-01-1959. You can read more of Captain Carlson’s military service at https://memory.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/bib/loc.natlib.afc2001001.80645
Please see available obituary and death notice information with links below.
~ Carol for the PCN
Captain John Carlson, age 84, passed away on Dec. 22, 1018 following a fall at home. He was born in Litchfield, MN to Clarence and Mary Donnelly, their only child. John’s father was in the tire business, which included aircraft tires. This led to John taking his first airplane ride at age four in an early all metal cabin aircraft at the St. Cloud (MN) Municipal Airport. The family has a wonderful photo of him, clad in a short pants suit complete with matching cap, leaning on the steps as if he owned the aircraft! John knew then that he would fly someday.
John's father volunteered for US Army service in 1941 and given his past logistical experience was assigned to a huge military depot in New Orleans. For two years he directed the shipment of war materials to Europe before being transferred there himself. John attended grade school in New Orleans until his father shipped out for Europe, then mother and son moved to St. Paul, MN.
Scholastically, John was gifted at all things mathematical. He tutored high school math students while attending Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis. John went out for football, although he himself admitted he was "too light to be important and not fast enough to be exciting.” Obit Photo John Carlson 2 As a teenager John enjoyed playing tennis and had a mean serve until injuring his shoulder playing football. While still a high school student, John began small boat sailing on the Minneapolis city lakes in a 17' sloop. In summers he enjoyed fishing with his family at their cabin on the beautifully wild St. Croix River in Wisconsin. Socially he had a tight group of friends with whom he remained close all his life.
Minnehaha Academy was followed by two years of studies at the University of Minnesota. Like a lot of future NWA aviators, John enlisted in the Navy as a Naval Aviation Cadet. After completing flight training at NAS Pensacola, John was awarded his gold wings and a commission in the USMC. His first operational unit was VMA-324 at Opa-Locka Air Station, Miami, FL. VMA-324 was an attack squadron flying the AD-4B – the Douglas Skyraider. That explains John’s oversized right leg.
A Marine aviator’s life is not solely stick, rudder, and spit shine. It was at Miami Springs, FL that John met Louise Neville who hailed from Tyler, Texas. John and Louise were married on August 28, 1957. This union of 61 years produced a daughter, Sharon (McDonald) and a granddaughter Emma Giusto.
John also served at MCAS Cherry Point, El Toro, CA and Iwakuni, Japan before separating from the active force and transferring to the Marine Reserves at NAS Twin Cities, MN. On September, 01, 1959 John was hired by Northwest Airlines. Can you imagine starting work on Labor Day? Only at NWA.
When he started in 1959 furloughs and layoffs were common. It took John so long to get through his first probationary year that returning to active USMC service was looking attractive. In 1961 John was one of several furloughed NWA pilots who were ‘loaned’ to Western Airlines and based in Salt Lake City. During his time with Western he flew the Boeing 720B. In 1965 John returned to NWA and after considerable difficulty managed to retain his original hiring date and seniority.
During his almost 35 year career, John flew the DC-4, DC-6, Boeing 707 series, the Boeing 727, the DC-10, and the classic Boeing 747. Rarely done today, John spent his entire NWA career based in MSP. Minnesota life agreed with John and Louise, he held onto his youthful passion for sailing and gradually added footage, larger lakes, and racing experience
John continued serving with the Marine Corps Reserve until retiring with twenty-two years of service. In addition to his reserve duty, he doggedly pursued an education at the University of Minnesota completing a B.S. in Business Administration.
Being of good Minnesota stock John also pursued winter sports. He downhill skied until breaking his leg while on a ski trip with his daughter. Not oblivious to warmer climates, he had his eye on the west coast of Florida which held possibilities for almost unlimited sailing. It was a record breaking blizzard in 1989 that inspired John and Louise to sell the Minnesota home and move south to the Fort Meyers, Florida. He commuted to MSP until 1994.
Arriving at age sixty, John closed out his log book and retired from NWA on July 28, 1994. At the time he was flying the classic 747.
After retirement John decided to take up golf, which tested his patience as nothing else ever had done. For about ten years he played for "companionship and lunch" until advancing health issues dictated otherwise. Louise learned to sail and the couple always cruised and crewed together. Port Charlotte Harbor is about midway between Sarasota and Ft. Meyers, there they moored their 34' cruising sloop. Taking turns at the wheel, the couple explored the Gulf of Mexico, the Keys, the Atlantic Coast and crewed in the Abacos, the Caribbean and the Pacific Coast. In 2012 John took up astronomy, taking classes and hauling his telescope to places not light polluted, visually traveling the sky in which he no longer flew.
Even in retirement John’s life was not all play. He committed himself to joining Louise in seeking and assisting young people achieve their educational goals. John fell into a supportive role for Louise who was a scholarship chairperson seeking high achiever high school girls. As a classic Dad and Grandpa of girls, he had a special place in his heart for any girls, especially the deserving needy.
Our colleague John Carlson was also a dedicated care giver, seeing to it that both his and Louise’s mothers (both widows) were not merely comfortable, but also enjoying the special things of life. He even cared for a childless widowed neighbor during the last three years of her life by managing her funds, overseeing her medical needs and demonstrating a patience beyond belief as her mental abilities deteriorated. His post death memorials cite John as a kind, patience, funny, responsible, and good-hearted being. No one could ask for more.
In Memory of JOHN C. CARLSON
JULY 28, 1934 - DECEMBER 22, 2018
John Carlson passed away on December 22, 2018. Funeral Home Services for John are being provided by Neptune Society - Fort Myers of Ft. Myers, FL.