Sunday, June 30, 2013

Goodbye Friend

There's Jerry out on the Ohio River.
If you live on, near, or have spent any time at an airport, you know a large group of pilots.  They come in all shapes and sizes and for the most part they are all likable people.  Each has their specific demeanor that makes them who they are, most of them are usually identified by one or more of the airplanes they fly, and when they leave you almost always find yourself thinking of the person for several more minutes.  Aviators are an interesting lot and it’s hard not to wonder what made them who they are and for that matter who are they really?  That’s part of why aviation is so fun.
Jerry's yellow Super Cruiser at one of our events
On the other hand, when aviators pass away, another character is lost.  Like the cast of a dramatic comedy, pilots bring more laughter and tears to the table than any other group I know.  And, as with any performance, through each act as a few actors must leave the stage while others appear.  It is as much a part of the stage as it is in life.  And yet, when some characters vanish behind the curtain, the show has lost more than a name on a page.  It has lost something that made it special.  Jerry Givens was one of those people.
Being a pilot at Bowman Field since 1966, Jerry was well known to anyone who had anything to do with flying in the Louisville area.  He was what many would call “a fixture”.  Myself, I met him in the early 90’s.  He was then what he was when he died, a good man.
When people important to us pass away, so often we try to paint a picture of their life with the brightest of colors.  In Jerry’s case though, it was the number of colors, not the intensity, for which he will be remembered.  What made him such a memorable person was the fact nothing stood out because everything you knew about him was good.  He was just that, a great guy.
Jerry loved his family, was extremely proud of his kids, didn’t have a lot to say but everything he said meant something, and he was kind and generous to others.  He also loved to fly.  That of course is how Ginger and I both came to know him.
Jerry was a fixture at Lee Bottom too.  When everyone else was in their hangars complaining about a nickel rise is the cost of fuel, he was up in the sky tempting others to come up there with him.  Regularly, he would drop into our place, sit down at the picnic table, and proceed to hound one of us into flying his airplane.  Not only did he love aviation, he loved to see others enjoy it as much as he did.
I remember one time when he and I went back and forth about flying his plane for at least fifteen  minutes until I finally said, in a light hearted manner, “Fine, I’ll fly your plane”, and hopped in and took off.  When I came back he was disappointed because I didn’t fly it enough.  That was Jerry.
When we learned Jerry had died, Ginger and I both agreed his passing was different.  People don’t often talk about it but death reveals treasures too late.  When some people pass we feel sorrow, and when others pass we feel loss.  In Jerry’s case it is loss.  Gone is the guy who brought us pheasant and routinely stirred up the river in his Lake Amphibian.  But more importantly, gone is a great guy in an era so lacking of the same.
Goodbye Jerry, we'll miss you.
To read Jerry's obituary, click here.

1 comment:

Jim said...

Well done Rich. The last photo is especially a fitting tribute to Jerry. Again, well done.