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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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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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)
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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