GBNF: We lost Mike Ruth, CS-03, to pancreatic cancer on 7 May. A ceremony was held in his hometown, Kearney, MO.
Retirements: We’re approaching the heart of the envelope for classmates who are hitting retirement age and finding that retirement is a euphemism for exchanging a cockpit checklist for the never-ending honey-do list. Pretty soon the only classmates left in the work force will be the ones who were mere children on in-processing day, i.e. Tim Murphy, and the workaholics who want to line their caskets with hundred dollar bills, i.e. Tim Murphy. Those who have recently entered the life-is-too-short-to-waste-on-work force are: Ken Finn retired from Delta Air Lines after 32+ years. He wrote, “My final flight was a wonderful Munich trip with my wife, Cris, in First Class on both legs. The Delta Operations folks wished me well, as did Ground Control in Atlanta and then Crash, Fire, and Rescue put up the Water Cannon Salute for my last gating. It was amazing. And hard to take in.” That last sentence was probably code forhe cried like a baby and rued the fact that everyone has a camera now and no one is reluctant to catch newly minted senior citizens in emotional moments (Photo 1 Below). Mark Risi flew his last flight for FedEx with classmate Tom McKee in the right seat. (Photo HERE). There were no reports of aberrant flight control inputs, but containers, unlike passengers, are not likely to report aileron rolls or hammerhead stalls. Here’s a picture of Mark and Tom putting on their best imitations of cherubs before the flight.
Authors in our Midst: Ron Doeppner recently entered the hallowed halls of authorship, and his book can be found on Amazon Kindle. The protagonist is an ex-Warthog driver with a myriad of skills, which is what makes the book so eerily real. On the other hand, pure works of fiction extoling the virtues of Eagle and Viper drivers haven’t been seen on the book market. Hmm…I wonder why. Dale Waters also has some works on Amazon Kindle. Want to see if your name appears in any of these books? Just enter the author’s name on the AmazonKindle website and click on “Buy.” If Roy Rice doesn’t appear in any of their books as an evil genius with an incurable golf swing I’m going to be sorely disappointed (Books Below).
Family Bucket Listers: Gernot Pomrenke and his son, Erik, carried 40-pound packs for 5 days on a 40-mile hike (40 pounds for 40 miles, it’s almost Biblical) to Isle Royale north of the Upper Michigan Peninsula in Lake Superior. Gernot reports that there are plenty of moose and wolves in Isle Royale, and thankfully, not a lot of mosquitoes (Photo 2 Below).
Mark Volcheff’s son, Paul, set a goal to visit all seven continents before his 30th birthday. This year he hit 29, and a careful study of Google maps revealed that Antarctica, the last continent on his list, wasn’t getting any closer. Road trip! Mark and Paul reached Puntas Arenas, Chile, after about 20 hours in the air, and it took another 3+ hour flight to reach the land of ice, rock, and briny water. Antarctica is little more than a birthing place for penguins, sea lions, and birds that were apparently dealt a bad hand in the evolutionary poker game. They’ve adapted well though. Come to think of it, Mark looks right at home there as well (Photo 3 Below).
Award Winner: Gary Exelby was recently awarded first place by the Arkansas Press Association for coverage of business, agriculture, and education. He also earned awards for an in-depth series of drug court, and an honorable mention for a news photograph. Gary is a staff writer for the Paragould Daily Press. It appears the literary force within the Best Alive is very strong indeed. (The last sentence has more impact if it’s read in a Yoda voice.) (Photo 4 Below)
Classmates Keeping the Bonds: John Santner and his two children stayed with Paul and Sheri Kent on the eve of the Santner family cruise to Alaska. After serving as a missile officer for 5 years, John separated and was ordained a Catholic Priest in 1985. Paul was at the ordination and a few years later Father John was able to travel to Kansas City to celebrate Paul and Sheri’s matrimony. John has since left the ministry, married and raised children. Paul reports that during the Santners’ visit the class bonds again showed their timelessness as he and John “picked up right where we left off” (Photo 5 Below).
He is an ex A-10 jock turned corporate pilot. She is a rising corporate executive. He’s in charge of transportation, she’s all about business. He flies the Lear, she gives the sales pitch. They have thirty days to garner the signatures of twelve company presidents, signatures that will seal the biggest financial deal of the year. It should be dead nuts simple… except the twelve rich guys don’t want to be found… and she hates his guts.
Four golf buddies take up a new hobby, Civil War Reenacting, but they find it ho hum and lacking intensity. The answer comes in a bottle, experimental drugs developed by the Army to enhance realism in combat training--a 'scared shitless pill.' After that, there are no complaints about intensity as they are thrust into a Civil War unit and headed to the front lines. Is it time travel or just really good drugs? Try not to get yourself killed while you figure out the answer.
It appears the bromance reported in the December 2017 issue of Checkpoints between Bull Sixers Pete Marcuzzo and Mike Marro is still going strong. They were recently spotted outside a theater in London where they and their wives attended a showing of “Hamilton.” Jetsetters Dave and Jan Wallace had just finished a cruise around Iberia and joined in an almost no-notice Bull Sixer mini-reunion with the Marcuzzos and Marros at The Grazing Goat, which, for the uninitiated, is a pub in London. Dave provided a picture of himself and Jan, but it provides blatant evidence that he married so far above himself that it would embarrass both of them to show it here. However, you can find that picture and several others at the class website, 75bestalive.org (Photos 6-7 Below).
Stan and Mary Collins relocated from Denver to Victoria, TX to be closer to family. Victoria is about halfway between Corpus Christi and Houston and only a few minutes away from Matagorda Bay, a fishing mecca. Being a firm believer in “when in Rome…” Stan bought a boat designed for finding fish and freeing them from their watery environment. The good news is that he reported all of that to your friendly neighborhood scribe, which is the same as a gold embossed invitation to all ‘75ers to seek him out and enjoy the hospitality only a Texan can offer (Photo 8 Below).
New Heritage Page: Bill Estelle has created a Heritage page on his class website (under the History tab) featuring parents and ancestors with military or other service. Please consider submitting stories and photos to the effort, because everyone has a story to tell and preserve.
Vito Update: Mike (Vito) Goyden’s, battle with Stage 2B Non-Hodgkins Burkitts Lymphoma is ongoing. He has completed all of his surgery and chemo treatments covering 55 days in the hospital over a period of 9 stays. There’s not enough space in this column to include his report, but the major theme from his account is that family, frequent contact with classmates and other friends, faith, and prayers are all playing major roles in this phase of his life. He also revealed an especially important lesson he learned from this experience: listen to your wife. Jan encouraged him to see a doctor several weeks before he felt the need to do so. It would seem wives are less convinced of our invincibility than we are, and, as usual, they’re right. Vito’s ability to appreciate prayers is apparently bottomless, so feel free to send some his direction when you get the chance.