Wallace William Waite
1942 ~ 2022
Captain Wallace ‘Wally’ Waite, age 80, passed away on May 31, 2022. Wally was born in Logan, Utah April 16, 1942, to William and Lilly Waite. He was the second son with eight older sisters; in effect Wally had nine mothers. William Waite, Wally’s father, was a coal miner.
Wally spent his early formative years at Dragerton, (East Carbon), UT, a struggling arid mountain mining town southeast of Salt Lake City. His father’s work took the family to Logan, Utah where Wally spent his high school years.
Wally was a natural student, a born learner, and a gifted athlete. A fact that many of us realized after challenging Wally on the tennis court. As a teenager Wally soloed an airplane before acquiring an automobile driver’s license, a trademark of a future airline pilot. After high school Wally received an appointment to the Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs. Air Force Cadet life did not exactly agree with Wally. Despite good test scores and faculty encouragement to stay, Wally withdrew after completing his first year.
After the Air Force Academy Wally returned to Logan and Utah State University. Shortly after entering Utah State Wally married Rosemary Wangsgard an elementary school teacher. Wally completed academic studies at both the University of Utah and Utah State from whence he would eventually graduate. The decisive factor In Utah State was a tennis scholarship. In the spring of 1964 Wally completed his business degree and Army ROTC at Utah State. That summer 2/Lt. Wally Waite reported to Ft. Rucker, Alabama for Army pilot training.
After earning his Army wings Wally was assigned to the 73rd Aviation Company at Phu Loi, Vietnam. Phu Loi is located west of Bien Hoa and Wally’s company was an Aerial Surveillance (Light) unit flying a variety of small single engine Army aircraft. While serving as a L-19 pilot Wally would encounter David Schneider also a future Northwest Airline pilot. Dave credits Wally with planting the idea of airline employment in him and the next time they saw each other was as Northwest Airlines employees. At the completion of his Vietnam service Wally was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
After separation from the active Army with the rank of Captain, Wally began his search for airline employment. His geographic preference was for an airline with western US mountain routes. Northwest Airlines met that criteria and Wally was hired on August 07, 1967.
Wally’s career progression at Northwest was pretty much seniority ordained. His initial crew training was as a second officer on the Boeing 727 based in MSP and thereafter various seats on the Boeing 727, the 707 series, DC-10 and Boeing 747 Classic. His initial captain upgrade was on the Boeing 727. Wally appeared to generally homestead in Minnesota, even doing a commute to fly out of Honolulu, with an eventual move to Puyallup, Washington to fly from Seattle. The residence in Washington state was short lived however and followed by a career move back to Minnesota.
During his NWA career, Wally also served his peers and the Air Line Pilots Association as the copilot representative for the Local Executive Council (LEC) in Minneapolis. He was teamed with representatives Bob Cavill and Gary Roelofs.
Wally fully retired from Northwest Airlines in 2002 and headed west. The Utah town of preference was Eden, Utah located northeast of Ogden, Utah and near both of their extended families. Wally stayed physically active. Despite his late 50s years, Wally was well known for making distant venture on his roller blades. This included infamous roller cruises though the lobbies of renown European hotels. Nearing sixty years, tennis took second place in his life to racquetball, in fact inspiring him to build a court in the family home in Eden, UT.
Few of our peers rivaled Wally for fertile mind or energy levels. This fellow was a prolific reader and student. In retirement he rode the bus and train daily into Weber State and Utah State University to avail himself of almost every available extension class. His daughter Michelle reports that, “Learning was his passion, and he continued all the days of his life to educate himself and his posterity.”
In addition to his extensive academic pursuits, Wally was an almost obsessive gardener. He had endless interest in cultivating and caring for their family gardens to keeping the family well supplied with vegetables (in season).
During the last two years of his life Wally’s heath failed him. He suffered from both Parkinson’s and dementia. Wally has now returned home to be reunited with his son and a loving Heavenly Father.
Wally Waite is preceded in death by his son Ben Wallace Waite who died in an auto accident. He is survived by his wife Rosemary and three daughters: Michelle Waite Robinson, Gina Waite Whitehead and Angelee Waite Arroyo.
Wally, thank you for the uplifting words, your positive outlook on life and the rock-solid airmanship. It was a joyful flight my friend.