By Nippy Opsahl
In the year of 1970 many retired Northwest Airline pilots were no longer active members of ALPA and had lost communication with many of their friends and co-workers with whom they had been so close for many years.
At that time Frank 'Sam' Houston was involved with IFALPA. In talking with pilots from many Domestic Airlines, as well as International Airlines, he learned that retired pilots from some of these Airlines had formed a Retired Pilot Association and were very pleased with it. Sam began to urge other Retirees, to organize something for the NWA Retired Pilots.
Harold Barnes and I began talking about approaching other retirees to see what they thought of the idea. I sent out about 25 letters to various Retired Pilots, who then mentioned the idea to their retired pilot friends. The idea mushroomed among the Retired Pilot group and a very positive response funneled back to me. I then wrote to several Airlines; UAL, PAA and some others, asking for a copy of the by-laws for their Retired Pilot Organization. From these we began compiling a formative set of By-Laws.
We called a meeting of a few of the Northwest Retirees, to be held at the Washington Athletic Club in Seattle, where we discussed this idea of forming a Northwest retired pilot group. Everyone was agreeable, so we wrote a set of By-Laws, named the organization Retired Northwest Pilot Association (RENPA), (later changed to RNPA), and elected a slate of officers.
The first officers were:
Harold M. Barnes - President
Tom Hillis - Vice President - Minneapolis
Dudley Cox - Vice President - Seattle
C.W. (Nippy) Opsahl - Secretary/Treasurer
Board of Directors - J,P, Bradshaw, Warren W. Shultz & C. Lee Wright
Dues were to be $5.00 per year. The duties of the Secretary/Treasurer were to be keeping a current record of membership, collecting dues, paying the bills, doing all the record keeping as well as editing and publishing a Newsletter. I put out the Newsletter by myself for a few years and later asked some members to help me collate, stamp and mail out the Newsletters.
I kept the Secretary/Treasurer (& Newsletter) job for nine years, then turned it over to Vince Doyle. He kept the job for two years when he passed it on to Herman Muto. Herm carried the job from 1981 until 1989. When it became such a big task, with so many members, he suggested the job be divided into two parts - Secretary/Treasurer for one and the Newsletter a separate job. The Secretary/Treasurer job was taken by Robert N. "Rocky" Rockwell. Herm has edited the Newsletter until present day. (These responsibilities are currently carried by other pilots since both Rocky and Herm have 'Flown West'.)
Ted Goodwin (not an airline pilot - just a good friend) became our "Artist in Resident". After seeing the Logo on the Airmail Flag designed by Col. Brittin, he created the Logo for RNPA, which is used on all stationary headings and Newsletters. He also designed the Scrolls and composed the poem for the Scroll in "iambic pentameter" verse, as well as designing our Name Tags. In respect for the hundreds of hours he devoted to RNPA with his art, totally volunteered, Ted was made an honorary RNPA member. This was an honor he truly appreciated. He was our "Artist" until his death two years ago.
(A note referring to Col. Brittin's flag: Northwest was very proud of its status as Air Mail Carrier. Col. Brittin designed a flag with a "Northwest Air Mail" logo. This flag was dutifully raised every day and taken down at night.)