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This page is produced by the PCN and is designed to be respectful and an honor to those from among us whom have made their final Flight West. When the PCN receives notices, all families agree that address info will be included (unless requested otherwise) on this semi-private web page. Contributor contact info is removed before posting (unless requested otherwise).

HOME PAGE SHOWs THE 5 MOST RECENT POSTS.

Friday, December 27, 2019

WA/DL Capt. Harlen Jim Helker


~ IN MEMORY ~
WA/DL Capt. Harlen Jim Helker
January 2, 1931 ~ December 18, 2019


Notification with the passing of Western/Delta pilot Captain H. Jim Helker, age 88.  Captain Helker joined Western Airlines 03-15-1962 and retired with Delta Air Lines.  Widowed in June 2015 with the passing of his wife Grace Ellen, Captain Helker is survived by his daughters and his son, plus his grand- and great grandchildren.
Obituary information is available online at
and at
To the best of my knowledge, Captain Helker had most recently resided at
12338 White Cloud, Conifer CO 80433-7138.
If more is learned we will be sure to pass along any updates.
Thank you,
~ Carol for the PCN 

Obituary…………………
Harlen J. Helker was born Jan. 2, 1931, in Poteau, Okla., and was raised in Hartford, Ark.
He married Grace Ellen Monday on Sept. 8, 1952, and they were married for 62 years until her death on June 5, 2015.
A Conifer resident since 1962, Harlen was a pilot for Western Airlines and then retired with Delta Airlines when the two airlines merged. He was an active member of Pleasant Park Grange No. 156, Conifer Historical Society, Conifer Area Chamber of Commerce, Salvation Army – Conifer Extension and The Quiet Birdmen.
He is survived by two daughters, Lois Helker and Carol Lyons; son Scott Helker; two granddaughters, Desiree Miranda and Eleanor Helker; and five great-grandchildren, D'Angelo Malcolm, Jasmine Malcolm, Melinda Driscoll, Freya Miranda and Michael Miranda.
He was preceded in death by his father, James D. Helker; mother Lois C. (Terry) Helker; brothers J.D. Helker, Charles Helker and James Helker; and sisters Betty Jo (Helker) Steele and Mary Helker.
A memorial service for Harlen is planned on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, at 11 a.m. at Conifer Commun-ity Church, 9998 Havekost Road, with a reception to follow.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations in Harlen J. Helker's name to Conifer Historical Society, Pleasant Park Grange No. 156 or The Salvation Army – Conifer Extension.
Published in Canyon Courier on Dec. 25, 2019.
…………………………………………………
Grace Ellen Helker, wife of WA/DL Capt. Harlen J. Helker
~ IN MEMORY ~
Grace Ellen Helker, wife of WAL Capt. Harlen Jim Helker
May 4, 1933 ~ June 6, 2015

Notification with the passing of Grace Ellen Helker, age 82, wife of retired WAL/DAL pilot Captain Harlen J. Helker.  Captain Helker joined Western Airlines 03-15-1962 and was based Denver for much of his career……………………..



NAL/PAA/DAL Captain Gordon Lee Miller

Update:  Celebration of Life event
Come Join Majol Miller for a Celebration of Life
in Honor of her husband Capt. Gordon L. Miller
 Saturday, February 29th at 5pm,  with food and drinks
at Y-Knot Sports Bar,  216 North Lake Drive,  Peachtree City,  GA 30269
 RSVP to Dick Hammarlund or < Hammar1@aol.com >  (678) 576-4303
News rcvd from NAL Buccaneers Club.

-IN MEMORY-
NAL/PAA/DAL Captain Gordon Lee Miller
DOB Aug 30, 1939      DOH Jan 16, 1967      DOD Dec 18, 2019
USAF Viet Nam Veteran

Our thanks to Captain Dick Hammarlund for news of Gordon's passing

https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/orlandosentinel/obituary.aspx?pid=194823737
Gordon Lee Miller Notice
Gordon Lee Miller, 80, passed on Wednesday, December 18, 2019, in Mount Dora, Florida. 

Gordon was born August 30, 1939 in Jacksonville, Florida and attended Florida State University where he majored in History. He remained an avid FSU football fan throughout his life. After college, Gordon entered the United States Air Force and obtained his pilots license in Valdosta, Georgia at Moody Air Force Base. 

Gordon met his wife, Majol, in 8th grade during Homeroom class at Kirby-Smith Junior High School in Jacksonville, Florida. After his last exam at FSU in 1961, Gordon and Majol married at a Methodist Church in Thomasville, Georgia. 

He served as a pilot during the Vietnam War and was promoted to Captain within 4 years of service. After his military service, Gordon worked as a pilot for National Airlines, later Pan Am Airlines and then with Delta Airlines for 32 years before retiring in 1999.

While with Pan Am, Gordon and Majol lived in Berlin, Germany and were living there when the Berlin Wall fell in November, 1989. Gordon was also an avid golfer and placed 2nd in the 1988 Berlin Golf Club Championship.

After 4 years in Germany, Gordon and Majol moved to Jacksonville, Florida and then to Peachtree City, Georgia. After 24 years in Peachtree City, Georgia, they moved to Mount Dora, Florida to be closer to family and friends.

Gordon was a car enthusiast and owned a 1953 Jaguar XK120M Roadster. The Jaguar was awarded "Most Desirable Jaguar", "People's Choice Award" and 5 time "Best in Show". His passion for cars stemmed from his father, John Miller. John was a pilot and avid race car driver.

Gordon was a wonderful story and joke teller and always the life of the party. He and Majol loved to travel and spend time with family and friends. He is now reunited with parents, John and Frances Miller, his brother Wayne Miller and his three children, Gordon Lee Miller, Jr., Audrey Miller and Christopher Miller. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Majol Miller, his cousins John and Pat Miller and many adoring friends. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Published in the Orlando Sentinel from Dec. 26 to Dec. 29, 2019






Sunday, December 22, 2019

DL Capt. William G. Langnau


~ IN MEMORY ~
USAF veteran, DL Capt. William G. Langnau
June 29, 1957 ~ December 11, 2019


Notification with the passing of Delta pilot Capt. William George Langnau, age 62.  Captain Langnau joined Delta Air Lines 09-06-1990.  He is survived by his wife Jeannie plus many other dear friends and family members. 
Captain Langnau’s obituary may be viewed online and share your memories at
Obituary information is also available at
For those wishing to send a personal note, whitepages lists the family residence as
13808 Rockport Landing Rd., Midlothian VA 23112-2024.
Obituary below notes that no services are planned.
Thank you,
~ Carol for the PCN

Obituary…………. LANGNAU, William George, age 62, passed away on December 11, 2019. Born as the youngest of four, Bill moved extensively with his family across the states and in the Philippines. He leaves cherished memories to his loving wife, Jeannie; many nieces and nephews and other family and friends as he battled cancer of the appendix since 2015. Graduating from the University of New Mexico in 1979 with a business degree and in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC), Bill was able to immediately begin his dream job as a fighter pilot for the U.S. Air Force. After marriage and dueling careers, he proudly joined Delta Air Lines, leaving as a captain on the 757/767 ER. One of the highlights was flying a trip literally around the world.
Bill was born a natural athlete - excelling as a youth at bowling, wrestling, basketball, baseball, scuba diving, track and football. Later he coached football for 10 to 12 year olds for several years. He learned tennis for his wife... until he could beat her! Once settled here in Virginia, his passion became golf and watching sports. He loved his home - boating, fishing or just watching birds on the lake, beautifying the gardens, playing bridge or another game or cooking a special meal with family and good friends. He never lost his sense of humor, even in his last days.
No service is planned at this time. He was honored to have so many friends and family celebrate his final days with him.

DL pilot Robert Keith Ecklund


~ IN MEMORY ~
DL pilot Robert Keith Ecklund
April 14, 1976 - December 15, 2019


Notification with the passing of Delta pilot Robert Keith Ecklund, age 43.  Mr. Ecklund joined Delta Air Lines 01-14-2008 and was based ATL73NB.  He is survived by his wife Hilary, their daughter, his parents plus many other family members.
Obituary information with a video tribute and a family photo gallery may be viewed online at
Visitation is today December 22, funeral services tomorrow December 23 at Coleman Funeral Home, 6815 Parkview Blvd., Olive Branch MS 38654…………. info@colemanfuneralhome.com
For those wishing to send a personal note, whitepages lists the family residence as
8697 Turkey Creek Dr., Olive Branch MS 38654-6709.
If more is learned we will be sure to update our sites.
Thank you,
~ Carol for the PCN 

Obituary…………Robert Keith Ecklund, 43, of Olive Branch, MS, passed away December 15, 2019. Visitation will be Sunday, December 22, 2019, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., at Coleman Funeral Home in Olive Branch. A funeral service will be held Monday, December 23, 2019, at 10:00 a.m., also at Coleman Funeral Home. We will reconvene at 1:00 p.m., for a graveside committal service at Greenwood Cemetery (158 Cromwell St., West Point, MS 39773). Rev. Stephen Sparks and Pastor Darian Duckworth will officiate. Coleman Funeral Home of Olive Branch is in charge of arrangements.

Keith Ecklund was born on April 14, 1976, in Camp Lejeune, NC. He grew up in Manhattan, KS, where he made some forever friends. Keith married his high school sweetheart, Hilary Brooke Baugh, in 2001. He worked as a pilot seeding clouds in Western Kansas after graduating from the University of North Dakota with a Bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Studies. He also was a flight instructor for a brief time at Kansas State University, in Salina, KS, before accepting a piloting position in the state of Washington. Keith loved flying and was working for Delta Airlines at the time of his death.

Keith had a very adventurous soul. He was an avid outdoorsman, and he also enjoyed different music and singing. He and his wife met while both involved in their high school choir, along with many of their friends. In college, Keith was a member of the choir and the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. He was one of Kansas State University’s biggest fans, especially when it came to football. Keith was also a member of the Airline Pilot Association.

Keith Ecklund leaves behind his wife of 18 years, Hilary Ecklund of Olive Branch; his daughter, Carly Anne Ecklund of Olive Branch; one sister, Amelia (Myron) Hannigan of Lawrence, KS; and his parents, Mary Carr Ecklund and Robert David Ecklund of West Point, MS; his mother-in-law and father-in-law, Jennifer and Bruce Baugh, of Derby, KS; two sisters-in-law, Heather Jani of Derby, and Sydney Kaus of Andover, KS; one niece, Lauren Jani of Cooperberg, PA; three nephews, Gage Kaus, Reid Kaus, and Chase Kaus, all of Andover; three aunts, Elizabeth McGlohn of West Point, Sue Mietzner of Pittsburgh, PA, and Joan Ecklund of Old Saybrook, CT, along with their families; and two uncles, Steve Ecklund of Port Orange, FL, and Robert McGlohn of Greenville, SC, and their families. He is also survived by many McGlohn, Mietzner, and Ecklund cousins whom he enjoyed visiting over the years.

Keith Ecklund was preceded in death by his paternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Olgart Ecklund; and his maternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles McGlohn.

In lieu of traditional gifts, memorials can be made in honor of Robert Keith Ecklund the donor's choice of his daughter's college education fund, (c/o Hilary Ecklund; 8697 Turkey Creek Dr., Olive Branch, MS 38654) or the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (www.nfwf.org). The NFWF works to protect and restore our nation’s fish, wildlife, plants, and habitats; the very places Keith loved to be along with his family and friends.

Online condolences may be left on the Tribute Wall at www.colemanfuneralhome.com

Friday, December 20, 2019

NC/RC/NWA Capt. Dean L. Bailey


~ IN MEMORY ~
NC/RC/NWA Capt. Dean L. Bailey
October 10, 1944 ~ December 7, 2019


Notification with the passing of retired North Central/Republic/Northwest Airlines pilot Capt. Dean L. Bailey, age 75.  Captain Bailey is survived by his daughter Madonna and his grandchildren. 
To view the obituary online and share memories please visit the funeral home website at
MEMORIAL SERVICE (visitation one hour prior):  December 21, 2019 at 11:00 AM,
Rettinger Funeral Home, 425 Lake Street, Long Lake, MN 55356.
Thank you,
~ Carol for the PCN

Obituary…………..Bailey, Dean L age 75 of Cable, WI, formerly of Long Lake. Entered eternal rest Dec. 7.  Dean was born on Oct. 10, 1944 to Lynn and Edna Bailey. He was passionate about flying and was a commercial airline pilot for North Central, Republic and Northwest Airlines. He was an avid outdoorsman and his love for adventure was unmeasurable. Dean was passionate about life, enthusiastically encouraging and inspiring countless people to succeed in their lives. He is survived by his daughter, Madonna Mitzel; granddaughter, Brookelle Bartsch (Jordan); great-grandson, Deacon; sister, Mary Kae Bailey; niece, Laurie Damberg, (daughters, Elizabeth and Emilee); nephew, Jeffrey Swanson and many loving relatives and friends. Memorial Service 11am Sat. Dec. 21 at Rettinger Funeral Home 425 Lake St. Long Lake with visitation 1 hour prior to service.

NWA/DL Capt. Don Allen Keener


~ IN MEMORY ~
USAF veteran, NWA/DL Capt. Don Allen Keener
September 25, 1956 - December 5, 2019


Notification with the passing of retired Northwest/Delta pilot Captain Don Allen Keener, age 63.  Captain Keener first joined Northwest Airlines 08-09-1985.  He is survived by his wife Nancy, also by their children and grandchildren.
A video tribute and family photo gallery along with Captain Keener’s obituary may be viewed online at
Thank you,
~ Carol for the PCN

Obituary……….Don Allen Keener, 63, of Destin, FL formerly of Highlands, N.C. went to be with the Lord on Thursday, December 5, 2019. He was born September 25, 1956 in Sylva, N.C., to the late John H. and Hester Hedden Keener.

He is survived by his wife, Nancy Keener, his three daughters, Brandy Highsmith and husband, Omar Highsmith, Kalee Renee Keener, Paige Marion Keener and two grandsons, Knight and Simeon Highsmith all of Destin, FL. Don was preceded in death by his father, John H. Keener and his mother Hester Hedden Keener; a brother Terry Dean Keener; and a sister Renee Gwen Treyvig.

Don’s passion for life was contagious and he enjoyed spending his time with family and friends. He loved dancing with Nancy, and watching his daughters compete in Equestrian competition, he enjoyed riding motorcycles with his friends, and loved collecting classic Ford cars.

Don was an accomplished man and received many awards for outstanding achievements during his life. He graduated high school as valedictorian. Following his graduation in 1974, Don had the prestigious accomplishment of being accepted into the Air Force Academy. Don graduated with honors from the Air Force Academy and flew as a fighter/tank pilot from 1978 to 1982. During Don’s service in the Air Force he achieved the rank of Captain and received the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Air Force Training Ribbon, Air Force Training Longevity Service Ribbon, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and National Defense Service Medal. Following Don’s military service, he moved to Destin, FL and started his career flying for the commercial airlines. He flew for Northwest and Delta Airlines from August 1985 to December 2019, where he was flying international routes as a Captain. In addition to his flying career, Don was an accomplished custom builder in Destin.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, December 14, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. at Yellow Mountain Baptist Church with Carl Stepp officiating. Burial will be in Stewart Cemetery.

The family will receive friends from 10:00 to 11:00 Saturday, one hour prior to the service at the Church. Flowers may be sent to Macon Funeral Home, Franklin, N.C.

Pallbearers will be Paul Schmitt, Taylor Schmitt, Bruce Belser, Toby Theodore, Ted Love and Jon Shelton. Honorary Pallbearers will be Greg Floyd and Jim Moody.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Stewart Cemetery Fund, C/O Carl Stewart, 3295 Yellow Mountain Road, Cullowhee, NC 28723.

Macon Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.

Condolences can be made to the family at www.maconfuneralhome.com

NWA Capt. John Edward McAlpin


~ IN MEMORY ~
NWA Capt. John Edward McAlpin
SEPTEMBER 16, 1934 – DECEMBER 14, 2019


RNPA friends have notified us with the passing of retired Northwest pilot Captain John E. McAlpin, age 85: “Captain John McAlpin, age 85, passed away this past Saturday December 14, 2019 after a long illness. John grew up in Saint Cloud, Minnesota, attended Saint John's University before joining the USMC as a MARCAD (Aviation Cadet). After his USMC service John signed on at NWA and flew for 35 years, retiring on the Boeing 747-400.”  Captain McAlpin joined Northwest Airlines 3-13-1959.  He is survived by his wife Marianne, his children and grandchildren.
Obituary may be viewed and share memories online at
Please see obituary below for services and additional information.
Thank you,
~ Carol for the PCN 

Obituary……………John Edward McAlpin, age 85, of Castle Rock, Colorado passed away on Saturday December 14, 2019. John was born September 16, 1934 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
John grew up in Saint Cloud, Minnesota where he attended Saint John's University before joining The United States Marine Corps. He received his Pilot Wings at the Pensacola Naval Air Station before being stationed at various bases around the world. After his service, John continued his passion for flying by joining Northwest Airlines as a Commercial Pilot. He retired after 35 years as a Captain on the Boeing 747-400.

John met the love of his life, Marianne Louise Kvam, in the Fall of 1973 and the couple married on May 5, 1974 before welcoming two daughters into the union.

John loved hunting and fishing with his fellow RAMS, attending sporting events, golfing with friends, and was an avid reader. He enjoyed traveling the world with his family and spent many summers in Norway. After retirement, John and Marianne frequently traveled to Sydney, Australia where they met many lifelong friends. In later years, the pull of family and new grandchildren brought John and Marianne to Colorado.

John is preceded in death by his parents, Thomas James McAlpin and Mary Agnes Connolly; his infant brother, Robert McAlpin; and his brother, Thomas McAlpin. He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Marianne; his daughters, Erin (Greg) Eiselein and Kara (Matt) Burnham; his grandchildren, Christopher, Kari, Jack, and Marin; his sisters, Sheila Anne (John) Lohmann and Mary Margaret (Dennis) Brennan; and numerous nieces and nephews.

A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, December 21, 2019 at 10:00 am at Olinger Chapel Hill Mortuary, 6601 S Colorado Blvd, Centennial, CO 80121. A reception will follow.

A Memorial Service will be held in Edina, Minnesota in May 2020; more information will follow. John will be laid to rest at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Memorial contributions may be made in John's memory to the Alzheimer's Association.
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.olingerchapelhill.com  for the McAlpin family.

NWA Capt. Gene Glen Winn


(please forgive belated notice….thank you, ~ Carol for the PCN)

~ IN MEMORY ~
NWA Capt. Gene Glen Winn
1931 ~ 2019


 
Gene Glen Winn
1931 ~ 2019 
 Gene Winn, age 87, passed away on August 26, 2019 in Estero, Florida. His cause of death was lung cancer.
   Gene was born November 10, 1931 in Birmingham, AL the fourth son with a younger sister. He grew up in Pleasant Grove, AL. His father was a steelworker. All of Gene’s siblings, three brothers and sister, graduated from Auburn University, but Gene chose to earn his degree at Oklahoma State University. Family lore has it that Gene was an advanced student who skipped two grades. He began his university studies at Auburn University but dropped out to enlist in the USAF Aviation Cadet pilot training program.
   Keeping in mind that Gene had already proven himself a bright lad, he had no problems earning his pilot wings at Greenville AFB, MS. Glen spent the next 13 years on active duty with the Air Force serving as an Air Training Command pilot instructor and Tactical Air command C-130 pilot. During his Air Force service Gene was stationed in Mississippi, Oklahoma, Okinawa, and Florida (Patrick AFB serving Cape Canaveral). While stationed in Oklahoma Gene completed a BS degree in Industrial Engineering at Oklahoma State University.
   Gene was hired by NWA on January 9, 1967. He was pushing the age limit at that time for NWA pilot hiring, making him the oldest in his class. During his NWA tenure he was based in Minneapolis (MSP) and Seattle (SEA). He began his NWA career flying Second Officer on the Boeing 727 in MSP and when seniority permitted, he transferred to SEA to flying Second Officer on the Boeing 707 series. Gene homesteaded at SEA, in time upgrading to copilot on the Boeing 707 series and eventually the Boeing 747 ‘Classic.’ In November 1991 Gene put away his flight bag having reached the mandatory retirement age - 60 years. Gene was well liked by his airline peers. His upbeat personality and general congeniality earned him high marks from his cockpit colleagues.
   In retirement Gene enjoyed family get togethers, golfing, crossword puzzles, and birdwatching. Airline friends report that Gene was also skilled at steelhead fishing. He is survived by wife Beth Bland Winn; children Hester Winn, Susan Winn Kelly (Peter), Christopher Winn (Ellen); stepchildren Todd Bland (Meg), Jamie Bland (Tiffany), and Salli Bland Blackford (Nick).

NWA Capt. Joseph 'Ned' Best

 Joseph ‘Ned’ Best

1940 ~ 2019

  
Obit Photo Ned and Northwest Cargo high res
 Captain Ned Best, age 78, passed away the morning of July 24, 2019 surrounded by his loving wife of 39 years and their three grown children. Ned was born an identical twin to Samuel and Helen Best on October 28, 1940 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Ned earned both a Bachelor or Arts and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Tulsa in 1962. Between the academic school years he found summer work fighting wildfires in Idaho, where he fell in love with the Pacific Northwest, vowing to someday make it his home. In addition to his academic studies at the University of Tulsa, Ned completed four years of Air Force ROTC and upon completing his degree was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force Resesrve.
    Three months later, on August 24, 1962 Ned entered USAF Pilot Training at Laredo AFB, Texas. While undergoing Undergraduate Pilot Training at Laredo AFB he flew the T-37 and T-33 jet trainers. After earning his silver wings Ned was sent to Castle AFB, at Merced, CA for SAC crew training in the KC-135. Upon completion of crew training he was assigned permanent station (PCS) to the 407th Air Refueling Squadron (SAC) at Homestead AFB, Florida.
   Ned served at Homestead AFB until released from active duty in late 1967. Never one to sit still, Ned began his long and gratifying career as an airline pilot when he was hired by NWA on December 04, 1967. To know Ned Best of NWA meant that you also knew Paul Best, his identical twin. Ned had convinced his brother Paul to abandon police work, learn to fly, and join him in applying for work as a pilot. They were hired in the same class. Paul by virtue of being born five minutes earlier received one seniority number senior to Ned.
  Obit Photo Ned Best The Best twins flew for NWA for 33 years, retiring on their 60th birthday on October 28, 2000. During their careers they flew the Boeing 727, the Boeing 707 series and all three positions on the 747/200 (‘classic’). Ned’s initial captain checkout was on the 747/200. He loved flying the ‘classic’ 747 and flew his final NWA flight on that aircraft. Ned’s passion for flying continued in his retirement years as a member of the Blackjack Squadron at Arlington Airport (Schierman Field) WA. The Blackjacks are mostly retired aviators who fly various version of the Van’s Aircraft series of kit airplanes. Many memorable moments were made possible for those adventurous enough to join Ned in his RV-6 as he performed hammer head stalls and aileron rolls.
   As the planes got bigger, and the schedules better, Nel made good on his promise to return to the Pacific Northwest, making his home in Seattle. Ned met Washington native and Alaska Airline flight attendant Sally Meranda in 1979. Undeterred by her statement, “I don’t date pilots,” he quickly proved to her he was no regular Joe, as a result they were wed on February 06, 1980 at the courthouse in downtown Seattle. Ned and Sally raised two daughters, Sara and Corie and a son, Sloane, in Redmond, WA where they resided until 2017.
   Ned was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2001. His positive and gritty character pushed the outer limits of the illness. He lived for 18 years with this insensitive disease, yet never uttered a word of self-pity. He lived every day with a smile, humor, and love. He watched all three of his children marry and have children of their own. Sally fiercely fought the struggles that came as his condition worsened. She stood by him, cared for him, and will love him until the day they are reunited to rest in peace.
   His family will remember Ned for his exuberance for life. He truly loved it. Ned was a voracious reader with an encyclopedic mind. A student of history, especially WWII, he enjoyed all subjects and could converse with anyone about anything. Teaching his kids all the things in life to enjoy and appreciate was Ned’s favorite thing about being a parent
   Ned is preceded in death by his parents Samuel and Helen Best, and survived by his wife Sally Meranda Best, daughter Sara Best Tomczak, daughter Corie Best Nichols, son Thomas Sloane Best, his twin brother G. Paul Best, sister Mary Jo Basham, brother Jackson Best, six nieces and nephews and six grandchildren.
Donations in his name can be made to Hospice Care of the Northwest in appreciation for their care and support for those in need.  https://www.hospicenw.org/how-you-can-nelp/make-a-donation/

Thursday, December 19, 2019

DL Capt. Samuel Thomas Peace III


~ IN MEMORY ~
DL Capt. Samuel Thomas Peace III
November 3, 1938 - December 9, 2019

Notification with the passing of retired Delta pilot Captain Samuel Thomas Peace III, age 81.  Captain Peace joined Delta Air Lines 09-03-1968 and retired with Delta based Atlanta.  He is survived by his wife Petra, his children and grandchildren.
To view the obituary online please visit the funeral home website at
Also available online at
A graveside memorial service will be held December 21, 2019….please see obituary below for details.
For those wishing to send condolences, the family address is listed as
802 Meadow Lane, Henderson NC 27536-3851.
Thank you,
~ Carol for the PCN 

Obituary………… Samuel Thomas Peace III
Samuel Thomas Peace, III, 81, of 802 Meadow Lane, died Monday, December 9, 2019. Born November 3, 1938 in Vance County, he was the son of the late Samuel Thomas Peace, Jr. and Ann Coleman Peace. He attended Woodberry Forest School, graduated from Henderson High School and earned a degree in business administration from UNC- Chapel Hill.

Tom had a successful career in the airline industry as both a commercial and private pilot. He was a Captain for Delta Airlines, the manager of the O’Hare Field Office for ALPA from 1973 until 1974 and President of The Falconer Group, Inc. His article, "Simulators- A New Approach" appeared in the 1973 edition of Air Line Pilot Magazine. He earned special meritorious awards from Delta.  He retired from Delta after 30 years and enjoyed working for three major TV stations as a videographer. Tom was a member of the Henderson Jaycees, was a Past President of the Henderson Kiwanis Club, a former Mason and a member of First United Methodist Church in Henderson.

A graveside memorial service will be held Saturday, December 21, 2019 at 11:00 AM at Elmwood Cemetery by Rev. Bobby Fletcher. Tom is survived by his wife, Petra Roesnick Peace; two sons, Christopher Thomas Peace and wife Karen of Alexandria, VA and Sean Coleman Peace of Raleigh; two granddaughters, Victoria Peace and Gwendolyn Peace; one grandson, Santiago Peace. The family will receive friends following the service at the home. In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 501 St Jude Place Memphis, TN 38105, www.stjude.org/donate . Arrangements are by J.M. White Funeral Home.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

DL Capt. Frank A. Morse Jr.

Please note this correction to my correction!
Initial posting was correct in that Captain Morse Jr. joined Delta Air Lines in 1962.  Captain Frank A. Morse Jr. is the father of Frank A. Morse III who is an A220 Captain for Delta Air Lines.  
Please accept my apology for the confusion.
    Thank you,

        ~ Carol for the PCN

~ IN MEMORY ~
USAF veteran, DL Capt. Frank A. Morse Jr.
September 9, 1937 ~ December 15, 2019


News has reached us with the passing of Delta Golden Wings member retired Delta pilot Captain Frank Albert Morse Jr., age 82.  Captain Morse first joined Delta Air Lines 09-04-1962 and retired with Delta in 1997, based Atlanta.  He is survived by his wife Frances ‘Fran’ , also their children and grandchildren.
To view/sign the online guestbook please visit
Obituary may also be viewed online at
Visitation and services will be held December 19 at Goundrey & Dewhirst Funeral Home, 42 Main St., Salem, NH. 
For those wishing to send a personal note to the family, that address is
PO Box 1018,  Windham  NH  03087-1018.
Thank you,
~ Carol for the PCN

Obituary………..Frank A. Morse, Jr., of Windham, New Hampshire and of New Castle, Kentucky passed away on December 15, 2019 at the age of 82 after a long illness.  Frances “Fran” Morse, his wife of 52 years, and family members remained at his bedside for the last several days. Despite a variety of medical issues over the past several years, Frank maintained his trademark optimism and sense of humor until the end.

Frank first came to Windham with his parents, Frank and Peggy Morse, and sister, Jane, in 1944. He was an all-state athlete (football and baseball) at Woodbury High School. His family lived on Cobbett’s Pond throughout the 1950s where proudly he helmed one of the fastest boats on the pond. After a stint at the University of New Hampshire, he found his true calling as an airplane pilot. First, he flew F-86 fighter jets for the US Air Force, and later, he was a captain and senior pilot for Delta Air Lines. He loved everything about flying and often remarked that he never worked a day in his life because flying was too much fun to be called work.

Frank and Fran, along with their children, returned to Windham on Cobbett’s Pond in the 1980’s. An avid boater, he was frequently seen piloting several craft at somewhat slower speeds than in the 1950’s.

After retirement from Delta Air Lines in 1997, Frank split his time between Windham and his farm in New Castle, KY.  Frank and Fran purchased the farm in 1974 knowing virtually nothing about farming.  With his typical enthusiasm and great assistance from his in-laws, he developed into a knowledgeable and successful farmer.  Frank had enormous curiosity and was never afraid to try new things.  A self-taught and highly accomplished cook, he was particularly fond of baking bread. During his trips to France, he learned secrets of baking bread from French bakers. Armed with rudimentary French, he would show up at the back door of local bakeries at 4 AM while on layovers in Paris.

In addition to his wife, Frank leaves behind three children, Allison (Doug) Stead, Jennifer Morse and Frank A “Franco” (Shannon) Morse III. His beloved four grandchildren,  Kaylyn Appleyard, Lauren Schultz, Daniel Morse, and Ava Morse.

Calling hours will be held on Thursday, December 19, from 10 AM - 11 AM at the Goundrey & Dewhirst Funeral Home at 42 Main St., Salem, NH, followed by a service in the funeral home chapel at 11 AM. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Wounded Warrior Project.

------------------------
From: Larry Whitesell <oxpilot@gmail.com>
Sent: Wednesday, March 25, 2020  

..... Frank Morse was never with NE he was my Delta classmate Sep 4 1962 He came straight from the USAF


Sunday, December 15, 2019

NC/RC/NWA Capt. Thomas Lloyd Docken


~ IN MEMORY ~
USAF veteran, NC/RC/NWA Capt. Thomas Lloyd Docken
May 26, 1946 ~ December 9, 2019

Notification with the passing of retired North Central/Republic/ Northwest Airlines pilot Captain Thomas Lloyd Docken, age 73.  Widowed in January 2017 with the passing of his wife Nancy Jane, Captain Docken is survived by his children and grandchildren.
To view the obituary and family photos online, and to share memories, please visit
Obituary is also available at
MEMORIAL SERVICE:  January 11, 2020 at 11:00 AM (visitation one hour prior) at
Our Saviour's Lutheran Church, 19001 Jackson St. NE, East Bethel, MN.
Thank you,
~ Carol for the PCN 

Obituary…………. Thomas Lloyd Docken was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 26, 1946; he graduated from Roosevelt High School and Augsburg College before joining the United States Air Force. He passed away at his longtime home in Linwood Township on Monday, December 9, 2019. He was preceded in death by his loving wife of 39 years, Nancy Jane Docken (Alstrup) and is survived by his sons, Chris and Corey; daughter-in-law, Sarah; grand- daughters, Aubrey and Madison; brother, Ron (Terri); cherished English Springer Spaniels, Doc and Molly; along with other family and friends. Tom was a DC-9 Captain with North Central/Republic/ Northwest/Delta Airlines, a career that lasted 28 years. Lifelong Minnesota and University of Texas sports fan, Tom spoiled his kids, grandkids, and dogs equally. He loved cars, grilling, and spending time on the lake. A Memorial Service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 11, 2019, at Our Saviour's Lutheran Church, 19001 Jackson St. NE, East Bethel, MN. Family will be greeting friends one hour prior to the service at the church. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to Pheasants Forever or the Animal Humane Society.
………………………………………
DOCKEN (Alstrup) Nancy Jane was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on September 5, 1948 and raised in Bloomington, Minnesota. She crossed over on Saturday, August 12, 2017. She is survived by her loving husband, Tom; sons, Chris and Corey; loving daughter-in-law, Sarah; cherished granddaughter, Aubrey; brother, Dave; pets, Doc and Molly; other family and friends. Nancy graduated from St. Cloud State College in 1970. She worked as a flight attendant for 11 years with North Central/Republic Airlines. She was a proud member and volunteer at Our Saviour's Lutheran Church, East Bethel, Minnesota for 35 years. Nancy participated as a confirmation teacher, Befriender, communion coordinator/server, Prayers of the Church, Healing Prayers, Bead Ministry coordinator, and Tree of Life Library committee member. She enjoyed sports, bowling, golf, cards, and especially beading………………………..

NEA/DL Capt. Frank Harvey Peterson


~ IN MEMORY ~
WWII veteran, NEA/DL Capt. Frank Harvey Peterson
August 15, 1920 ~ December 13, 2019


Word has reached our group with the passing of retired Northeast/Delta pilot Captain Frank Harvey ‘Pete’ Peterson, age 99.  Captain Peterson joined Northeast Airlines 11-04-1942 and retired with Delta Air Lines in 1980, based Atlanta at time of retirement.  Widowed in January 2010 with the passing of his wife Mary, Captain Peterson is survived by their children plus their grand- and great grandchildren.
Obituary information and an online guestbook is available at the funeral home website
 http://foxandweeks.com/    or go directly to
Obituary may also be viewed online at
Services have been entrusted to Fox & Weeks Funeral Directors, Hodgson Chapel  (912) 352-7200.
Obituary notes that there will be services at St. James Catholic Church in Savannah at a later date, interment on Vinalhaven Island, Maine.  Mary’s obituary may be viewed below as well.
Thank you,
~ Carol for the PCN 

Obituary……………. Frank Harvey ‘Pete’ Peterson was born 15 August 1920 on Vinalhaven Island, Maine, to Ambrose Ames and Cora Frances Abbott Peterson.  He lived for 99 years and died on 13 December 2019 in Savannah, Georgia.

He was married for 67 happy years to Mary Dorothea Riley Peterson (deceased in 2010).

Upon graduation from Vinalhaven High School in 1938 he attended the University of Maine with a mind to be a mechanical engineer.  However, Uncle Sam was looking for pilots, as WWII was ramping up.  After taking flying lessons in college he realized how much he loved flying and changed his career path.   During the War, Pete flew many missions in the C47 shuttling cargo and passengers to Iceland, Greenland, and across Africa.  Upon completion of the War, he flew for Northeast Airlines flying throughout New England and then initiating the new 727 “Yellowbirds” from Boston to Miami.  Later Northeast merged with Delta and opened routes across the U.S. and Europe.  The Peterson family moved to Lighthouse Point, FL from Beverly, MA and later to Hilton Head, SC, as Pete’s career progressed.

In 1980 he took mandatory retirement after completing and loving his 39 years of flying.  In his retirement, he returned every summer to his beloved Vinalhaven Island with Mary and his trusty Shopsmith, with which he built his island home. Pete served on the board of the Medical Center there as well as other community activities.

Pete’s faith was an integral part of who he was. He was very involved with his Catholic Church community on Hilton Head and in Savannah where he and Mary spent their later years.

Mary and Pete loved both of their island homes where you could find them entertaining family and friends, boating in one of the many crafts they had over the years, or taking advantage of free flying and trotting around the globe!  They shared many an adventure together.

Despite his travels, Pete remained the classic New Englander, “use it up, measure twice, cut once, a penny saved is a penny earned.”  An accomplished carpenter, plumber and electrician, he was self-reliant and generous with his time, skills and his love of community and family.  Often surrounded by competitive talkers, we have all learned from Pete’s quiet example.

He leaves four children:  Jeffrey James Peterson (Teen), Susan Peterson King, David Riley Peterson (Cynthia), and Ann Peterson Ramee (Tom); nine grandchildren, Cora Peterson, Mary Peterson Screws, Anna Peterson, Bryan King, Stephen King, Amy King Fontaine, Faran Peterson, Shane Ramee, Ali Ramee: and eleven great grandchildren.

There will be a Memorial Mass at St. James Catholic Church in Savannah at a later date and an interment on Vinalhaven Island, ME.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to: St. James Catholic Church, 8412 Whitefield Ave., Savannah, GA 31406 or Vinalhaven Medical Center, 15 Medical Center Loop, Vinalhaven Island, ME 04863.
……………………………………………

Mary Dorothea Riley Peterson  1921-2010
Mary Dorothea Riley Peterson died peacefully in her sleep at home with her loving husband by her side on January 17, 2010. She was 8 days shy of her 89th Birthday.

Mary was born in Portland, ME on January 25, 1921, the only child of James Augustine Riley. She never knew her mother, Dorothea Perrin Riley, who died during childbirth in 1923.

After attending Westbrook College, Mary worked for a short while for Ma Bell (i.e. the phone company), before becoming a flight attendant for Northeast Airlines. It wasn't long before she met the love of her life, and husband of 66 years, Frank (Pete) Peterson.

Mary would be the first one to tell you that being a flight attendant was not for her, and after marrying Pete (her pilot) in 1943 her "real" life began. They settled in MA; after four homes and four children there, they moved with the airlines to south Florida in 1960. The sunny south brought out new life styles, hobbies and sporting activities including tennis, boating, fishing and not to mention being involved in all the kid's activities from middle school, high school and college.

In 1973, when Delta merged with Northeast, Mary & Pete established a home on Hilton Head Island where they lived for 34 years. In 2005, Mary and Pete moved to The Marshes in Savannah, GA.

Throughout married life the family spent summers on Vinalhaven, a small island fishing village off the coast of Maine where Pete was born and raised. The love she received from her husband's parents, as well as her husband and children, was very important.

Vinalhaven became the gathering-place for the entire family-children, their spouses, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Mary enjoyed her family first and foremost. She had a rich life full of travel, a wide circle of friends, a fanatic love of bridge, crossword puzzles, reading and anything that involved family, friends, food and laughter.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

WA/DL Capt. Anthony ‘Tony’ J. Cavalier


~ IN MEMORY ~
Navy veteran, WA/DL Capt. Anthony ‘Tony’ J. Cavalier
October 24, 1935 -  December 9, 2019


Notification with the passing of retired Western/Delta pilot Captain Anthony ‘Tony’ Joseph ‘AJ’ Cavalier, age 84.  Captain Cavalier joined Western Airlines 07-15-1968 and retired with Delta Air Lines in 1995, based 030/SLC.  Widowed in 1990 with the passing of his wife Doris, Captain Cavalier is survived by his children and grandchildren, his longtime friend Nancy plus many other dear friends and aviation colleagues. 
To share memories and express condolences, please visit the funeral home website at
Rosary and prayer service will be December 16th at Ahlberg Funeral Chapel. Funeral Mass will be held December 17th at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church located at 323 Collyer St. in LONGMONT CO 80501.
Thank you,
~ Carol for the PCN 

Obituary…………… Anthony Joseph "AJ" Cavalier
Anthony Joseph Cavalier, 84, passed away December 9, 2019.

AJ (Tony) was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1935. He was raised by his mother Julia and grandmother Sadie in the Italian neighborhood of South Philly. He delivered papers as a child and worked in a small market during his years at Southeast Catholic High School. After high school, he attended St. Joseph's University and received a B.S. in Political Science in 1957.

He was accepted into the United States Navy's Officer Candidate School. After graduating from OCS, he became a pilot and flew numerous aircraft throughout his career in the Navy, mainly the R6D and the C-47. He flew around the world transporting troops and dignitaries. He flew NATO troops in and out of the Belgian Congo in Africa during their civil war and transported troops to Europe, North America, Central America, South America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

He met the love of his life, Doris Hartnagle on a blind date in 1962 while working as a flight instructor at the Pensacola Naval Air Station. They were later married on June 1, 1963. While in Pensacola, they welcomed their first two children - Theresa and Stephen. In 1966 he accepted new orders to be stationed in Caracas, Venezuela as the Embassy's pilot. Two more children were welcomed while in Caracas - Frank and Anthony. The family lived there until the end of 1967.

In 1968, after being honorably discharged from the Navy as a Lieutenant, AJ accepted a job with Western Airlines. The family moved to his wife's hometown of Longmont, Colorado. They raised their children in the stone house on Third Avenue and he lived there until his death.

He and Doris were heavily involved in their children's lives, whether that be attending sporting events, horse shows or working on the family farm. AJ took on his wife's and daughter’s love of horses and became heavily involved in Appaloosas. The family would go on numerous vacations to Hawaii, the Caribbean, and road trips around the US.

AJ's work with Western Airlines, which he said was the greatest airline in the country, was the highlight of his career. He always said, Western was truly, "The Only Way to Fly." He spent the remainder of his career with Delta Airlines after they acquired Western. He flew for Delta until his retirement as a Captain in 1995 after 38 years as a pilot. Over the years, he flew many commercial airplanes - 737, 727, 757 767 and DC-10.

He lost the love of his life, Doris, in 1990 as a result of a car accident. AJ would continue to travel with friends on European and Mediterranean cruises, as well as continuing to travel with his family on countless vacations. He was a true global traveler, seeing the world over many decades. AJ loved the beach and spending time with his grandchildren. He was an avid reader and there was no crossword puzzle that he couldn't handle. He was known for telling jokes and having opinions about everything. He volunteered for many years at Longmont United Hospital. He especially loved the conversations over coffee and donuts with his hospital buddies. He faced many health challenges over the last 7 years and always remained the fighter. He was truly remarkable and lived life on his terms.

He was preceded in death by his mother (Julia), his grandmother (Sadie) and his wife (Doris). He is survived by his sister Louise Banbury; four children: Theresa (Robert Schmidt), Stephen (Caroline), Frank (Christine), and Anthony (Erin Claussen); four grandchildren: Suzie, Mimi, Carlo, and Marco; and longtime friend Nancy.

Rosary prayers will be at 6:00 PM Monday, December 16, 2019 at Ahlberg Funeral Chapel. A Funeral Mass will be held at 1:00 PM Tuesday, December 17, 2019 at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. Interment at Longmont Mountain View Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. John the Baptist Catholic School. Share condolences at www.ahlbergfuneralchapel.com
………………………………………………..
Birth   :  2 Oct 1932
Death :  18 Sep 1990
Doris Aileen Cavalier, 57, of Longmont died September 18, 1990 in an automobile accident. Mass of Christian Burial was Sept. 24 at Spirit of Peace Catholic Church. Burial was in Mountain View Cemetery in Longmont. Mrs. Cavalier, a native of Longmont, was a stockbroker until 1988. She also raised Appaloosa horses. Survivors include her husband, Anthony Cavalier of Longmont; three sons, Stephen Cavalier and Frank Cavalier, both of San Francisco, and Anthony Cavalier of Longmont; a daughter, Theresa Cavalier of Longmont; and her mother, Virginia Dixon Hartnagle of Longmont……………….

Sunday, December 8, 2019

NWA Capt. Richard ‘Dick’ C. Bradford


~ IN MEMORY ~
USAF veteran, NWA Capt. Richard ‘Dick’ C. Bradford
August 13, 1936 - November 08, 2019


Belated notification with the passing of RNPA member retired Northwest pilot Captain Richard Capener Bradford, age 83. Captain Bradford joined Northwest Airlines  10-30-1958.  Friends write:  He was highly respected as an instructor pilot, ending his career as the training manager on the DC-10. The fellow had marvelous ways of motivating and encouraging
others.” Captain Bradford
is survived by his wife Barbara Jean, their children and grandchildren, plus many extended family members as well as many friends and aviation colleagues.
Obituary information is still available online at

For those wishing to contact the family, whitepages notes a residence address as
7486 157th St W Apt 111 , Saint Paul, MN 55124. 
Thank you,
~ Carol for the PCN

Obituary……………….
Richard C. Bradford, age 83 of Apple Valley, passed away peacefully on November 8, 2019. Richard served his country as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force. He then flew for Northwest/Delta Airlines for 30+ years before his retirement. He is preceded in death by his parents, Ethel and Harold Bradford. He is survived by his loving wife of 61 years, Barbara Jean Bradford; children, Lynnette Howze, Susan (Chuck Larson) Bradford, Christine Leiker, Stephanie (Deb) Bradford-Schumaker, and Seth (Kayte) Bradford; grandchildren 18; great grandchildren 9 and brother, Brent (Jann) Bradford, also by other relatives and friends. Funeral service will be held 11 AM Monday, November 18, 2019 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 651 Southcross Dr., Burnsville, MN with a visitation 1 hr prior to service at church. Richard served as the first Bishop of the Burnsville Ward Building, and also served many other callings in the church.
Interment will take place at the Fort Snelling National Cemetery.
White Funeral Home 952-432-2001

NWA Captain James Allen Bestul


~ IN MEMORY ~
Military veteran, NWA Capt. Jim Bestul
July 28, 1933 - November 7, 2019




Belated notification with the passing of RNPA member retired Northwest pilot Captain James Allen Bestul, age 86.  Captain Bestul joined Northwest Airlines 03-13-1959.  He is survived by his wife Nancy, their children and grandchildren, plus many other dear friends and family members.
Obituary information is still available online at
For those wishing to send a personal note, whitepages lists the family residence as
 4964 Devonshire Circle, Excelsior MN 55331-9329.
Thank you,
~ Carol for the PCN

Obituary……… for James Allen Bestul
Bestul, James Allen of Excelsior age 86 (Jim) Beloved husband of 60 years of Nancy (Chapman) Bestul flew west for the last time on Nov 7, 2019. Son of Sylvan and Rebecca (Ensberg) Bestul. Born in Washington DC. Grew up in Arlington VA and Bremerton WA. Graduated from Capital U in 1955. Served proudly as a Naval Aviator and was a pilot for Northwest Airlines for 34 years. He loved flying, airplanes and sailing but loved all the special family times even more. Summers sailing on Lake Superior was a family highlight for many summers. Once computers became available in the '80's he embraced the technology with enthusiasm. A pencil and paper project categorizing all American airplanes became a huge computer program of over 8000 airplanes. This program, which was still growing at the time of his death, is at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. He is survived by brother, Bruce (Geraldine); sons, Greg (Terri) and Doug (Rhonda); a proud Papa/Grandpa of Kimberly, Erica, Laura, Matthew and Alex. Services on Monday Nov. 18 at 10 A.M. at Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church, 301 County Rd. 19, Excelsior. Visitation one hour prior to service. Interment at Ft. Snelling. In lieu of flowers donations please to American Lung Association, 55 Wacker Dr., Suite 1150, Chicago, IL 60601 Lung.org. Washburn-McReavy.com Strobeck Johnson 952-938-9020
‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘
Jim Bestul, Pilot Love of flying led to immense aircraft cataloging project
Star Tribune: Newspaper of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis, MN) - Sunday, November 24, 2019

James "Jim" Bestul lived and breathed airplanes. He flew Navy seaplanes, commercial planes for Northwest Airlines and his own private aircraft in his spare time.

Still, there were thousands of other planes out there. He started cataloging all U.S. planes, meticulously recording details like engine type, tail configuration and how many of each was built. The database, which encompassed more than 15,000 planes, caught the attention of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, where some of the records are kept today.

"He just loved airplanes," said son Doug, an Apple Valley pilot. "That whole dimension of being able to fly gets in your blood."

Bestul, 86, of Excelsior, died Nov. 7 of pulmonary fibrosis at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis.

The oldest of two boys, Bestul was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Virginia and Washington state. After graduating from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, he joined the Navy in 1955 and began flying seaplanes, a path that took him to Bermuda.

There he met Nancy Chapman, who was teaching sixth grade at a school for military dependents. She had mutual friends with Bestul, who bore a resemblance to Johnny Carson, she recalled. The couple hit it off at a squadron party.

"I was absolutely blown away," she said. "I knew right then and there."

They married in 1959 and moved to Bloomington, where Bestul flew for Northwest Airlines. After being laid off, he re-entered the Navy and eventually flew support transport planes for the Blue Angels, the flight demonstration squadron known for its aerobatics. By the time the family returned to Minnesota in 1964, the couple had two sons, Doug and Greg.

He was "a very hands-on dad," Nancy Bestul said, leading his sons' Boys Scout troops, teaching them woodworking and taking the family on sailboat excursions that began on Lake Minnetonka and later moved to Lake Superior. She remembered her husband tying balloons to the sailboat's shrouds and letting the children shoot them down.

Quiet, calm and confident, he was suited to sailing and flying, Nancy Bestul said, since "nothing seemed to ruffle his feathers."

Jim Bestul began his plane cataloging project in the 1970s and learned computer languages so he could transfer the paper-and-pencil records to a database in 1982. "He became a very early adopter of computers and technology," Doug Bestul said. "He was a gadget guy."

His collection, which included registration numbers for 855,000 individual planes, landed at the Smithsonian after staffers from an airplane magazine told the museum director about the project. In exchange, the museum sent Bestul laserdiscs featuring photos of 200,000 planes to add to his database.

"He was like a kid in a candy store," Doug Bestul said.

His childlike side also came out with his grandchildren, who relished playing dolls with him, said his granddaughter Erica, of Minocqua, Wis. She remembers that when she and her sister, Laura, were afraid of venturing downstairs at their grandparents' house, their "Papa" invented a "Ghostbusters" game and played it for years, calling in pretend ghost sightings while wearing special shirts, writing on custom stationery and talking over a real intercom. They used a garden hose to fight off spirits, Erica Bestul said.

"He was so good with us, so patient," she said. "He was definitely the glue that held our family together."

Besides his wife, son Doug and granddaughter Erica, Bestul is survived by son Greg of Lester Prairie, Minn.; brother Bruce of Apple Valley, Calif.; and four other grandchildren. Services have been held.