Milburn J. ‘Mel’ Holmes
1939 ~ 2021
Captain Mel Holmes, age 81, passed away peacefully at home in Escondido, California on February 9th, 2021. He succumbed to cancer.
Mel was born October 12, 1939 in La Grande, Oregon to Milburn Jay and Betty Mae Holmes, Mel was the older of two sons. His father served in the Navy as a sniper during WWII, thereafter a career employee with Union Pacific Railroad.
As a student at La Grande High School, Mel lettered in basketball and baseball. His athletic talents earned him an athletic scholarship to Eastern Oregon University (EOU). His college studies concentrated in the sciences culminating in a Bachelor of Science degree, Spring, 1961. It is noteworthy that in 2006 Mel became the first recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from Eastern Oregon University.
Mel genuinely loved baseball. The Pittsburg Pirates recruited him for their minor league team, but his desire to become a Naval aviator preempted baseball. Having given up on playing major league baseball, Mel began the long cross-country trip from Oregon to Florida. The events to follow would radically change his life.
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Otto Everett ‘Ev’ Tessmer
1932 ~ 2020
Captain Otto Everett Tessmer, age 88, passed away peacefully in Alexandria, MN on Friday, November 27, 2020. “Sweet Loveable Evy” (as he liked to be called) was born on April 27, 1932, in Alexandria Minnesota to Otto and Sofy (Haugdahl) Tessmer. On April 18, 1959, he married Mary Jill Fordham. They raised a son, John, and two daughters, Paula and Karla.
Everett’s extensive flying career began with the Navy in 1954. He spent most of his Naval career instructing in Pensacola Florida. Everett claimed that his navy career saved him after two attempts at obtaining a college degree, one at the University of Minnesota and another at St. Olaf in Northfield, MN. When asked why he left these institutions, he would reply, “I was not kicked out. Rather, I was asked to never return.”
After leaving the Navy in late 1957, Everett was hired by Northwest Airlines on February 12, 1958. He flew as Captain on the 727, 707 & DC-10. During his thirty-five year airline career, Everett served as a respected Instructor and the FAA-designated Check Airman for orals and type ratings on the DC10. In 1970, he was elected by ALPA (Airline Pilots Association) to serve on the Master Executive Council at Northwest Airlines. Everett retired from NWA in April 1992, at that time he was the senior pilot on the DC-10.
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David Bruce Kollitz
1937 ~ 2020
Captain David Bruce Kollitz, age 83, of Hudson, Wisconsin, died on December 31, 2020 of complications from diabetes and lymphoma. The eldest child of Karl Wilhelm Kollitz and Clarisse Jeanette (Travillion) Kollitz, David was proud to have grown up in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, where he ran track and played hockey and the trumpet (among other activities), graduating from high school in 1955.
From Thief River Fall David moved to Minneapolis to attend the University of Minnesota. As a U. of M. college student David was a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity. It is ironic that future NWA pilot Richard Duxbury was a Delta Tau Delta fraternity brother. David also held a part time job delivering prescriptions for a local pharmacy. About this time in his busy life, the future wife and lifetime partner Rozanne (Peterson) entered David’s life.
In 1958 David Kollitz enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a Naval Aviation Cadet (NAVCAD). His fraternity pal Dick Duxbury received his USN commission and entered pilot training at NAS Pensacola, FL close to the same time as David. While at Pensacola, David and Dick Duxbury would spend weekends talking and debriefing about flying the T-28 in formation, gunnery, and carrier qualifications. After Pensacola both David and Dick were sent to NAS Corpus Christi for multiengine aircraft training and to enter the Navy pipleline for flying large patrol aircraft. It was at NAS Corpus Christi that David learned to the fly the Martin P5M twin piston engine seaplane. His first operational squadron was to be at NAS North Island at Coronado, CA. At this point David and Dick split career paths, David going to the west coast and Dick to the east, both were destined to meet again in the future at Northwest Airlines.
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Gabriel James Fernandez
1942 ~ 2020
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Gabriel James Fernandez, the first-born-son to Gabriel Jesus Fernandez and Polly Nunes Fernandez on December 7, 1942. This unique and loving soul was born to fly. He set his sights on the prize while working at Valley Fair Market in San Jose, CA during his young years. Every paycheck went to pay for flying lessons starting at 16 yrs old. He graduated from San Jose State, and served in the Air National Guard. His dream was fulfilled October 10, 1966 when he was accepted into the Pilot Training program with Northwest (Orient) Airlines. He loved being an Airline Pilot and was very fortunate to be with the same airline his entire career, and fly with extraordinary people, many of whom became lifelong friends. Captain Fernandez retired from NWA January 31, 2002.
His personal life was full of his larger-than-life passion of flying 6-8 airplanes of his own, even restoring from the frame up a 1928 Travel-Air Bi-Plane. Many of his planes he had for 30-40 years as well as doing his own maintenance on with the help of his friend, Merle. He was a regular fixture around Arlington then Paine Field, known not just as a retired Captain but as a trusted, tried and true Aviator, always a source of flying facts and Aviation History.
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Carl Richard Simmons, Sr.
1938 ~ 2021
Captain Carl Richard Simmons, Sr., age 82, passed away unexpectedly on January 29, 2021 in Orange Beach, Alabama. He was born 03 May, 1938 in Hannibal, Missouri and was preceded in death by his parents, Carl Burk Simmons and Mary Elizabeth Montgomery Simmons of Monroe City, MO.
Carl graduated from Holy Rosary High School in Monroe City, MO. in 1956. He was active in the local community and in the Boy Scouts of America, where he achieved the distinguished rank of Eagle Scout. Soon after finishing high school, he left for Columbia, Missouri and the University of Missouri where he received degrees in Civil Engineering, Astronomy and Mathematics. He completed 4 years of Air Force ROTC and reached the rank of Cadet Colonel. Upon graduation he was commissioned a 2nd LT. in the USAF.
After graduation, Carl worked for the Boeing Airplane Co., in Seattle, Washington until he entered active duty in June 1961 at Williams AFB, Arizona.
At Williams AFB, he began undergraduate pilot training and earned his wings in June 1962. From Arizona he went to Tinker AFB, Oklahoma to Advanced Multi-Engine Pilot Training. In December 1962 he left the States for a two year assignment to Yokota AB, Japan [flying the RB-50]. While in Japan, he flew reconnaissance aircraft within the entire Far-East Theatre, protecting the country he loved so dearly.
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Kenneth D. Linville
1938 ~ 2020
Captain Kenneth A. Linville, age 82, died November 7, 2020 from a brain bleed in Hialeah Gardens, Florida.
Ken was born on January 04, 1938 to Kenneth A and Marilyn Linville. Ken’s father was first employed by Northwest Airlines as a link trainer instructor and eventually retired as a very senior captain on the Boeing 747 Classic at Seattle. It is not surprising that Ken Sr. inspired Ken Jr. to pursue a flying career.
Ken attended Highline High School in Burien, WA, graduating with the class of 1956. With humor Ken reports easily sliding through high school with a high-grade point average. He did not recall taking a book home while in high school. Predictably, poor study habits were his nemesis the first year at the University of Washington. “I almost flunked out of school my first year, just barely getting my grades up to the minimum required ‘C’ average to be initiated into my Sigma Chi fraternity.” He was grateful to his fraternity brothers “for taking in a skinny, naïve, grease ball high school kid with an Elvis Presley haircut and a bad attitude, shaping him into some semblance of a college man.”
In 1958 Ken met a lovely student from Oregon State - Marilyn Booth. During a spring break Marilyn brought Ken home to meet her parents. “She had a wonderful family, but paid a heavy price when she lost both her parents to heart attacks by the time she was twenty.” The two quickly bonded and on August 5, 1960, Ken - age twenty-two and Marilyn - age twenty were married. For the rest of their lives, they would not know what to do without each other.
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