Gary Ray Hutterball
1944 ~ 2018
Captain Gary Hutterball, age 74, a beloved son, brother, husband, father, grandfather and friend, passed away on Thursday June 21st due to health complications. How do you write an obituary about someone who was such an original? There was no one like Gary and to try to honor his life through words can be overwhelming, but we will try. Gary Ray Hutteball was born on July 3, 1944 in Pasco, WA to loving parents Yvonne Hutteball (Davis) and Douglas Hutteball. His earliest years were in Pasco, but the family later moved to Kennewick just across the Columbia River.
Gary quickly learned the value of hard work from his father. When only 10 he was put in charge of digging out a basement for their home, by hand. His father would mark off a section of ground and Gary was to dig it out by the time his dad got home from work. Day after day he worked on that basement until it was done. As Gary grew up he was protective of his younger sister. Sports always played a big role in his life; he loved baseball and football. At 13 he was the bat boy for the Tri-City Brave’s. His mother kept the books for the team as their manager, which allowed Gary to spend countless hours playing baseball with the big guys. He loved pitching as a south paw for Kennewick High School. Despite his affection for baseball, football was his number one sport.
While in high school at Kennewick High, he and his best friend San (San) Francisco knew great things lay ahead for them with football. Gary and San challenged each other on the field, but in addition in the classroom seeking to top the other in grade point average. Gary played quarterback, San was a linebacker, kicker, and tailback. Doors opened for them as together they headed off to Central Washington University (CWU) .
Gary attended and played football for a year at CWU before transferring to Columbia Basin College in Pasco. There he played football for two more years. At college Gary learned about flight training with the Marines and the dream of flying began. Gary enlisted in the USMC in 1965 and was off to the Marine Aviation Cadet (MARCAD) program at Pensacola, FL. In 1966 he returned to Kennewick to marry his high school sweet heart Rebecca Jacka. His flight training included the customary assignments to NAS Meridian, MS and NAS Kingville, TX where he received his wings and 2st Lieutenant commission. His first duty station was to VMF 334, MCAS El Toro flying the F-8 Crusader. In 1967 VMF 334 was deployed to Vietnam. Gary served an 18 month tour in country and offshore. After several months stationed aboard the USS Coral Sea, Gary was assigned to Marble Mountain Marine Base as a FAC (Forward Air Controller) flying 0-1 Birddogs. Gary was witness to some of the bloodiest battles during the war, including the Tet offensive, Con Thien (hell in a very small place) and Khe Sahn. While in Vietnam, Gary lost his best friend San Francisco who had been serving in the Air Force. San’s plane was shot down over North Vietnam and is still MIA. Gary spoke fondly of San and the family loved hearing stories of the two close friends, it was evident Gary missed Sab greatly.
Gary returned from Vietnam in 1969 and began his pilot career with Northwest Airlines. His date of hire was March 03, 1969. During his early NWA years Gary’s son Curt was born, followed a few years later (1972) by his daughter Emily. He loved being a father and tried hard to spend quality time with his kids while at home between trips.
During his first few years at Northwest there were a couple of extended furloughs requiring alternative employment. Gary and his fellow pilot/friend Lynn Hoyem worked as gandy dancers on the railroads. Gary always found work to help provide for his family during these hard times and even worked as an iron worker with his father. After being recalled by NWA, Gary flew second officer on the Boeing 707 series, all three positions on the 727 (his favorite). He finally retired as Captain on the 747 which he said was fun to fly and a very forgiving airplane.
Gary and Rebecca divorced in 1995. Gary remarried Donna Jean Johnson in 1996 and moved to Las Vegas where he finished out his career at Northwest. Gary retired from Northwest Airlines in 2001 after 32 years of flying.
This snapshot of Gary’s life and a timeline of events doesn’t adequately convey his personality. Gary was so many things, most days you would see him with a book in one hand and a cigarette in the other. He was an avid reader, mostly to pass the time in airports while waiting for trips, sometimes to pass the time while flying over the ocean. Other days you might see him with a cup of coffee and a fried egg sandwich, one of his favorites. Early mornings were spent going pheasant hunting with snow on the ground, or on the golf course, trying to improve his game. Gary and his father shared a love for playing poker. He was so proud of his dad and looked up to him in many ways; spending time with him around a poker table, or out on the golf course, was precious time well spent. When you first met him Gary seemed intimidating to some, but once you got to know him you quickly came to respect his great sense of humor. He loved to tease and we quickly learned how to laugh at ourselves. He was the greatest story teller who made you feel like you were there as he told us of flying all around the world, It was humbling to listen to him talk about the moments he was on the ground in Vietnam and the experiences he had there. Gary taught us to be grateful for those who have served our country and to be grateful for the freedom we enjoy. Gary was who he was - with or without any apologies.
Gary loved to drive his 1972 Chevy pick-up truck that had previously belonged to his father. He would roll the windows down, turn up the country music, sing along as he point out how cooler the air was when we drove by the orchards. Gary was not one to talk much about his feelings, not many Marines do, but he made sure his family and others knew how much he loved them. We sure loved you Gary. You will be greatly missed, but never forgotten. Your legacy will live on in each of us, we know we will see you again one day, until then, “Watch your six.”
Gary is preceded in death by his mother, Yvonne Hutteball (Davis), and father, Douglas Hutteball. He is survived by his wife, Donna Hutteball (Johnson); son Curt Hutteball and daughter Emily Allen (Hutteball) and their mother, Rebecca Burgess (Jacka); eight grandchildren along with numerous cousins and extended family.