1933 ~ 2023
Captain Dino Oliva, age 90, passed away October 31, 2023. Dino died peacefully in his sleep, at home, after 5 years with Alzheimer’s disease.
Dino was born in Lockport, New York on March 10, 1933, to parents Agostino and Elvira Oliva. His parents emigrated from Fano, Italy in the 1920's. The youngest of 3 boys, he was the first generation to speak English and head off to school in the states. After graduating from Lockport High School in 1950, he set off to college at Clarkson College of Technology, in Potsdam, New York. He took engineering courses and was active in his fraternity, Kappa Kappa Tau. In 1954 he earned a bachelor degree in Mechanical Engineering.
After college, Dino signed up with the Marine Corps and enrolled in officers candidate school in Quantico, VA. Dino was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps in February, 1955 and was sent to officers training for 8 months.
Dino trained in Pensacola in 1957, and then set off for Corpus Christi, Texas. With attack bomber training, he earned his wings as a naval aviator; at the time completing six landings on an aircraft carrier. Dino had been trained in an SNJ, T28, and an AD-4. Next he was off to Miami where he trained in a two engine SNB and a R4Q. Off to Cherry point NC next, he checked out as Captain on the R4Q.
While in the Marines, Dino flew troops and cargo during the Lebanon crisis. Completing his missions, he was released from active duty in February of 1958. Dino was recognized as serving over 2000 multi-engine hours, in March of 1959. For the love of flight, Dino continued flying out of Minneapolis with the Marine Reserves squadron for 22 years, until 1970. He retired as a U.S. Marine Corp Lieutenant Colonel in 1977.
Following his service to the Marines, Dino was hired as a pilot for Northwest Airlines. At NWA he flew as copilot on the DC-6 and DC-7. It wasn’t long before he became the Captain on the Electra 707, 320, 720, 727, DC-10, 747, and finally the 747-400. In the spirit of determination and for the fun of the adventure, Dino was one of the very first to check out on the 747-400.
Dino enjoyed his career, his pilot friends, and his 13 RAMS fishing and hunting buddies. Dino loved what he did and often said he “never worked a day in his life.” Flying for over 34 years, he retired from NWA on March 10th, 1993. Dino flew a total of 30,660 hours in the sky, meaning he was off the ground for more than 3.5 years of his life.
Of all his good fortune and accomplishments, Dino took one mission very seriously. That was to serve his fellow friends and colleagues in the airlines. In 1962, Dino got involved with ALPA to improve conditions at NWA after a long Flight Engineers strike. Taking this challenge head-on, Dino worked tirelessly to improve professional standards, on vacation bidding to category position. On July 1st, 1970 he was elected Captain Representative LEC chairman, Council One. Days later on July 7th, 1970 the BRAC strike began and lasted 5 months while Dino worked the ALPA office. In 1975, Dino served as grievance chairman, handling over 300 grievances, in twenty categories. Dino worked to retrieve over $5 million dollars for the pilot group. Dino served as the ALPA MEC chairman from 1975-1976.
In 1977, Dino moved to Florida with his wife, Karen. There they bought a home in Sarasota, Florida and have lived in the same house for 47 years. Despite moving, they kept a cabin on Lake Minnetonka where they visited for 10 summers, until their boys decided they wanted to be at home with friends during their summer.
Service has always been important to Dino. While flying, he managed to supervise a small PK-9th grade private school on Siesta Key; the Out-of-Door Academy. He volunteered his time to serve on the ODA School Board for 10 years. He also served as the Chairman of the ODA Board from 1985-1988; bringing the school into a new era.
Looking back, RNPA was a big part of Oliva's life. Dino was a past President of the organization and Treasurer for many years. His positions required him to lead the organization, keep accurate records and collect dues. Dino enjoyed managing two conventions and hosted the Southwest Florida Spring Luncheon, for many years. Dino and Karen stayed connected with the pilots group, having been to all of the conventions since Dino retired, except for one luncheon in Tucson, when "Coach" Dino was needed at his soccer teams's tournament.
At age 60, retired from flying, Dino took on many other adventures. Moving with his sons to the next level of education, Dino became a soccer coach at Cardinal Mooney High School. As was his nature to get involved and serve where needed, Dino worked as the Athletic Director, the Sports Club President, the football Kicking Coach, and even calculated and striped the teams football field for every home game. Refusing a paycheck for his time, Dino instead issued the money into a scholarship fund for the students.
Seeing a need and working to fill it, Dino was instrumental in procuring over $1.9 million dollars worth of sports equipment and field rejuvenation for the school.
During these years, in the summers, Dino did not sit still. He and Karen set off to Colorado to hand-build a mountain-side, rock and log cabin, in the woods. It took ten years to build and they called it “Hard Body Camp.” Karen recalls that it was worth it. They sold the cabin in 2022, “but only because the altitude was at 9000 feet and was too high for people over 80.”
In 2006 Dino and Karen started traveling in their Westfalia VW. Together they traveled up the east coast, as far as Labrador, and over to the west coast, as far north as Jasper, Canada. They were always gone the entire Florida summer. At age 85, Dino was still going strong, with Karen by his side.
In 2018 Dino was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment, (MCI). It was a long five year staircase. In September of 2023, Dino contracted covid and declined quickly. Following a 10 day visit to the hospital, and 21 days in rehabilitation, Dino returned home to be cared for by Karen. Recognizing the decline, Karen requested Hospice to keep Dino comfortable. Hospice care was wonderful for both Dino and Karen, allowing them to be comfortably home together. His children and grandchildren were also able to be there, to visit with Dino until his passing.
Dino is survived by his wife of 50 years, Karen Erickson Oliva, Stewardess for NWA 1966-1977; and his 5 children: Mario & Amie, and their 3 children: Amara, Arria, Asher; Anthony & Brianne and their 3 children: Emma, Anthony, Logan. And Dorothy and Dino's 3 children: Michelle, and her son Brendan; Gina & Kelley Corbridge; and Dino & Mindy; all with homes in Sarasota, Florida. Dino and Karen have had a wonderful support group.
The Olivas will be celebrating Dino's wonderful life at home with family.
(~ Oliva Family)