Ronald W. Murdock
1933 ~ 2021
Captain Ron Murdock, age 87, died April 27, 2021 of esophageal cancer. Born in Cleveland, Ohio to James and Hazel Murdock. Ron had three brothers. His parents struggled with layoffs and scarce employment during the Great Depression. Ron’s father ended up supporting the family as a bus driver. One can safely describe Ron as a child of the depression.
From his early youth Ron exhibited qualities of modesty, shyness, and great intellect. A top student and class officer in his high school class. Ron often described himself as an ‘early nerd.’ After high school Ron studied at the Case Institute of Technology in Cleveland, Ohio for two years prior to entering the USN Naval Aviation Cadet (NAVCAD) program. This major step was no doubt provoked in part by Ron’s older brother James, who had opted for the USAF Aviation Cadet program and thereafter served as a USAF pilot.
Assigned to NAVCAD class 1-54 at NAS Pensacola, Ron endured the military training and excelled at flying. Most of his flight training was at/near Pensacola with advanced training at Beeville, Texas. While a cadet Ron sang in the Naval Aviation Cadet Choir. He was honored to have performed with the Cadet Choir on the famed Ed Sullivan television show along with Tony Bennett. Ron acquired his wings of Gold and was commissioned into the USMC in May of 1955 and thereafter transferred to MCAS Cherry Point, NC.
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Douglas Lowell Baker
1941 ~ 2021
Captain Douglas Baker, age 79, was one of five children raised on the family farm outside of Buffalo, New York. Doug loved to share stories of life on the farm and proudly stated that at night his mother would pull out the bottom dresser drawer and that’s where Doug would sleep.
As he often said, “The farm couldn’t run without the family and the family couldn’t survive without the farm.” The farm satisfied many of the family’s needs from housing to employment to food.
During his childhood, Doug also gained a great education on the farm, learning everything from raising livestock and growing crops to driving tractors and bulldozers and building ponds. It was also where he got his first taste of flying in a small crop duster – at the age of 13 no less. Doug’s father was a designer for Curtiss-Wright Corporation, no doubt Dad’s influence aroused Doug’s interest in aircraft. Family lore recants that Doug once sold a cow to purchase his first light aircraft.
He eventually left the farm to attend Purdue University on a swimming scholarship. Doug was an Olympic caliber swimmer and was just a couple strokes short of making the US national team. Not one to skirt serious academic studies, Doug graduated from prestigious Purdue University with a degree in Industrial Engineering. After graduation Doug took his first job with Corning Glass which lasted until he was called to active duty in the US Army.
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Billy D. Brown
1934 ~ 2021
Captain Billy D. Brown, age 86, of Montgomery, Minnesota passed away on May 29, 2021. Billy was born in Newby, Oklahoma and lived there with his mother, a schoolteacher and his younger brother, Clayton until he completed the 8th grade. The family then moved to Burr Oak, Kansas where he graduat ed from High School in 1952. Following High School, Bill returned to Oklahoma where he attended Oklahoma Central University in Edmond for 2 ½ years majoring in pre-engineering.
In 1955, shortly before his draft number came up, Bill enlisted in the U.S. Naval Aviation Cadet (NavCad) program as a pilot training candidate assigned to NAS Pensacola, FL. This became the foundation of his lifelong career as a commercial airline Pilot for Northwest Airlines. Upon completing the NavCad training Billy was commissioned an Ensign in the USNR and awarded his wings of gold. Transition training in the P-2V followed at NAS North Island. Bill’s first post training assignment was to VP-6 at NAS Barber’s Point, Hawaii. Events in Billy’s life were coming at a rapid rate. In 1956, after a whirlwind courtship, he married Faye Pettit, who he met in high school. Bill and Faye arrived Barber’s Point at about the time the squadron began deployment to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan. Iwakuni is located about 300 miles west of Osaka. Until mid-1959, when he separated from the active Navy, Billy served as a Navy P-2 (SP-2F) pilot doing long range patrols and rescues.
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George Fredrick ‘Sarge’ Martin
1943 ~ 2021
Captain George Fredrick “Sarge” Martin, age 78, was born in 1943. He began his airline career at North Central Airlines as a DC-3 First Officer (F/O) in May of 1966. During Sarge’s flying career at North Central he flew as F/O on the DC-3, Convair 340/440 and 580 and the DC-9. In March of 1973 he checked out as Captain on the Convair 580 followed by the DC-9 in 1981. He became an instructor pilot for North Central in both airplanes shortly after first checking out as Captain.
North Central merged with Southern Airways and became Republic Airlines in July 1979. Sarge checked out as Captain on the MD-80 in 1981 and the B-727 in 1982. He became an instructor pilot on both aircraft soon after his Captain checkout.
In October of 1986 Republic and Northwest Airlines merged and Sarge became the Minneapolis Chief Pilot in April of 1987. In 1989 he moved up as NWA Director of Flying (DOF). Shortly thereafter he underwent a Captain checkout on the B-757 and B-747-400. He remained the DOF until January 1999 returning to the line until his retirement in July of 1999.Upon retirement Sarge joined the ranks of RNPA.
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Lorraine P. Potts
1925 ~ 2020
Lorraine Potts, age 95 of Hastings, Edina and Richfield, passed away November 2, 2020 of complications from old age & Covid-19. She was predeceased by her wonderful husband, Neil E. Potts. After Neil's passing Lorraine remained a RNPA member.
Lorraine was the “Energizer Bunny” and memory-maker of the family. As a child, she was known as “Little Lorraine”, the Shirley Temple of Chicago, helping support her family through the Depression, singing and dancing in theaters and nightclubs.
She devoted her life to creating remarkable experiences for her family and cultivating an astounding number of close friends. She volunteered decades of time and energy to numerous causes, including MSP Airport Foundation Travelers’s Assistance, Courage Kenny Foundation, and the American Heart Association. She was most proud of her numerous trips around the world delivering adopted children to their new families in the United States.
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Leroy A. Burkemper
1943 ~ 2020
Captain Leroy A. Burkemper, age 77, passed away peacefully on December 18, 2020 in Eagan, Minnesota surrounded by family. He was born on November 08, 1943 to Arthur and Ann Burkemper of Old Monroe, Missouri. Leroy had five siblings.
Leroy received his degree from the University of Missouri at Columbia. He entered the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant and flew airplanes in Viet Nam from 1967 to 1968. After release from active duty, Leory was hired by Northwest Airlines on October 10, 1968. He had a full and robust career with NWA, serving as a pilot for 35 years until retirement in November 2003. In retirement Leroy continued to enjoy life in the country while clearing his few acres on his beloved John Deere tractor.
He battled Parkinsons for 8 years and now is at peace, free of the daily challenges of the disease. Survived by wife Patty of 54 years, son Brent Burkemper of Bloomington, Mn., daughters Jennifer (David) of Osceola, Wisconsin and Katy (Jamie) of Lakeville, Mn. Five grandchildren are the light of his life, Jessica, Derek, Peter, Casey and Ashlyn Rose. Captain Burkemper is interned in Ft. Snelling National Cemetery in St. Paul, MN.
(- Bill Day)