George Tate Blair
1942 ~ 2020
Captain George Tate Blair, age 77, of Bellevue, WA, died on April 28, 2020, at his home after a long battle with thyroid cancer. George was born on June 13, 1942 in Lewistown, Montana to Thomas and Edith Blair. He was raised on a farm in Brooks, MT and attended Fergus County High School in Lewistown, MT. It was there he met his future wife of 56 years, Judy Rolfsness. After completing high school, George attended Montana State University in Bozeman, MT. He and Judy married in 1963.
In 1964 George began flight training at Tom Herrod Flight School at Billings, MT. Herrod’s school was FAA approved and trained several future NWA pilots. George received dual instruction from future NWA pilot Sterling Bentsen. After earning his FAA licenses George applied to Northwest and traveled to MSP for an interview, but NWA turned him down for being shorter than the minimal height requirement. George grabbed his logbooks and went to United Airlines. United gave George the go ahead for Stanine testing. After learning he had survived the Stanine test, George called NWA Personnel to also inform them he had passed. Upon learning that George had passed United’s initial interviews and the Stanine, NWA told George: “You’re hired.”
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Michael Allen Cummings
1936 ~ 2020
Captain Michael Cummings, age 83 of Aitkin, Minnesota and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico died Monday, July 15, 2019 in Aitkin, MN.
Michael was born January 26, 1936 in Aitkin to Francis and Oveline (Cartie) Cummings. The family moved to Brainerd, MN at a young age and there Michael attended school, graduating from Brainerd High School. He attended St. John’s University for two years and received an AA degree.
In 1956 Michael entered the USN Naval Aviation Cadet program at Pensacola, Florida. He earned his ‘Wings of Gold’ and was trained as a multi-engine pilot. One of his early duty stations was NAS Iwakuni, Japan where he met Joan E. Williamson. The couple married at Iwakuni on July 30, 1960. During their 12 years of active Naval service the couple were also stationed at Norfolk, VA, and Milton, FL; Michael also did sea duty upon the aircraft carrier USS America.
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Stuart G. Smith
1942 ~ 2020
Captain Stuart ‘Stu’ Smith, age 78, ‘Flew West’ on April 14, 2020 at their seasonal residence near Honolulu, Hawaii. His wife Kitty, a retired NWA/Delta pilot was at his side.
Stu was born in San Francisco on Jan 6, 1942 and adopted by Charles Gordon and Eunice Rowen Smith. Charles and Eunice were older parents who had tried for twenty years to have a child of their own. Stu became their only child
He grew up in the San Francisco Bay area where his father worked in real estate. His love of flying started at an early age. Like a lot of future airline pilots Stu had friends who were also learning to fly and some even owned airplanes. He never passed up a chance to go flying. When he discovered his parents were considering enrolling him in a Jesuit school, Stu lied about his age and enlisted in the Marine Corps. When Stu was a nineteen-year-old Marine his father died, since Stu was the only son, the USMC issued him a hardship discharge to return home and care for his mother.
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Roger D. Albertson
1937 ~ 2020
Captain Roger D. Albertson, age 83, of Lake City, Texas and Colfax, Wisconsin completed a final ‘soft landing’ on April 18, 2020 as he passed from this life to Heaven where he gets to be with Jesus forever. He died at home in Colfax, Wisconsin surrounded by his loving family.
Roger was born April 4, 1937 in Winona, MN to Orvin and Arleen Albertson. He had one older sister and brother. Roger’s father was a farmer and church custodian. His Mother was a teacher. Roger attended country grade school in Bennett Valley (Buffalo Co, WI), spent two years at Eleva-Strum High School and graduated from Eau Claire High School in 1955. Despite the move, Roger remained active in high schools; he was a notable good student who participated in school plays, he especially liked musicals, choir, tennis, and the track team.
Post high school for Roger meant St. Olaf College at Northfield, MN, and Air Force ROTC. While a student at St. Olaf College, Roger participated in a ROTC flight training program for cadets being considered for future flight training. Roger earned his private license flying off Stanton Field, just east of Northfield, MN, a historic airfield well known to many NWA pilots.
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John Francis Klescz
1926 ~ 2020
Captain John Klescz, age 93, died on March 01,2020. John was born December 1, 1926 in St. Wendel, MN to August and Mary Klescz. He proudly served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
John was hired by NWA as a mechanic on June 14, 1943. However, his NWA employment was soon interrupted by military service which lasted until late 1946. In early 1947, John returned to Minnesota and resumed his career with NWA Maintenance. He flourished in the maintenance career track and arose to become a master mechanic, crew chief and flight engineer. In 1964 John was given an opportunity to receive pilot training and upgrade to copilot. He chose the training and that was the beginning of his second career track as a pilot, culminating in mandatory pilot retirement as a captain on November 30, 1986.
After retirement John joined RNPA and also discovered his talents and passion for creating beautiful wood carvings. Fishing was also a joy (when he was lucky). John volunteered at the organization ‘Bridging’ for many years where they welcomed his incredible handyman talents and skills. He enjoyed watching the birds, deer and other wildlife from his kitchen table and enjoyed visits from friends and family, sharing stories. John was preceded in death by his wife, Delphine, son Rob and sisters Ester, Mary, and Alma. He is survived by his daughter, Sheri, son-in-law Al, beloved granddaughter Shelby, sisters Delores and Martha, and many nieces and nephews.
(- Klescz family & Bill Day)
J. Dale Nadon
1936 ~ 2020
Captain Dale Nadon, age 83, died April 19, 2020 in Sarasota, Florida after struggling with dementia.
Born in the small prairie city of Portage LaPrarie, Manitoba, Canada, Dale was the third of four siblings. Dale’s father was a painter who, in classic innovative Canadian prairie style, prevailed upon the city to flood his backyard in the winter to form an ice rink and then installed lighting for night skating. Dale honed his hockey skills right at home on that hockey rink.
In 1955 Dale joined the Royal Canadian Air Cadets and spent more than a year at RCAF Station Moose Jaw training in the Harvard (T-6) and CT-133 (T-33). After earning his wings and commission as a Flying Officer, Dale was assigned to the CF-100 Operational Training Unit (OUT) at Cold Lake, Alberta. At the time there were five CF-100 fighter squadrons across Canada. The CF-100 was similar to the USAF F-89 in that both were intended to engage enemy bomber formations, however in contrast the CF-100 engaged the enemy with a 90-degree attack, or a Lead Collision Course (LCC), rather than a head on attacks. After learning their techniques at OTU, Dale was assigned to RCAF 440 Squadron at Bagotville, Quebec. In May 1957, the 440 Squadron was transferred to Zweibrucken Air Base in West Germany to fulfill a NATO mission. The aircraft were flown Trans-Atlantic to Zweibrucken AB with fueling stops in Goose Bay and Keflavik, Iceland. Dale served with 440 Squadron at Zweibrucken AB until early 1960. The remainder of his active duty time was served in Canada.
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