Death of Older Brother
“The death that lead to a very interesting curiosity”
When I was 16 years old my brother Michael was 21 years old and was killed in an airplane crash. His untimely death left an indelible mark on me. I will never forget that day, it was March 17, 1963, and we had flown all that day because he was teaching me how to fly. It got to be kind of dusk so instead of taking the plane back to the flying club in Algona where he was a member, he parked it at the Fort Dodge airport. Since it was St. Patrick’s day, he had decided to go to a dance. Sometime around midnight my brother’s plane crashed. According to the trooper who was the first on the scene, the fog closed in such a short period of time that my brother and three passengers couldn’t find the airport and so he flew around trying to find it and eventually crashed about a half a mile south of the airport in a very wooded area. There was a greenhouse there and the owner had forgotten to turn off the water and so she went in there and turned on every light. When my brother saw the lights through the fog, he had confidence that they were headed in the right direction and so he headed towards the lights. Unfortunately, the greenhouse was not the airport. My brother crashed into the greenhouse killing his passengers and the women. The Mayor called us around 12:30 in the morning and asked if he could stop by our home. We knew it couldn’t be good news but we didn’t know what was coming. He told my parents that my brother had been killed. We drove to the site of the accident and I had to identify him from what he was wearing. They didn’t actually show me the body because he was decapitated but, I knew it was him based on what he was wearing. Michael’s death led me to a kind of curiosity around death and a need to understand it more deeply.