Welcome to the memorial website for Bruce R. Kennedy who passed away on the eve of June 28th, 2007 at the age of 68. On this page and the other tabbed pages of this site, you can read about Bruce's life, view photographs (click on any photo to see enlarged), leave a short note by lighting a 'Memorial Candle' or leave a longer note in 'Tributes & Condolences,' view a brief time line, and listen to audio from the memorial service. We hope this site is helpful to you in both your sorrow over his death and your celebration of his amazing life. We treasure every thought, feeling, and story you share with us here and elsewhere. Memorial Gifts: For those who wish to do so, memorial gifts may be made to Quest Aircraft. Please make checks payable to: NCCF/Quest Aircraft Memorial Fund, with a memo line of 'Bruce Kennedy Memorial Fund.'
The address for sending such is:
Northwest Christian Community Foundation 7730 SW 31st Avenue Portland, OR 97219 Update 7/10/2007 5:30pm: Audio recordings of the memorial service are now available on this website. There are three recordings: The first is of the entire service, the second is just the segment of the service where Karin shared her remembrance of her father, and the third is the segment where Kevin shared his remembrance of his father. You can find links to these recordings in the upper portion of the right column of this page, or click on the "Audio & Video" tab above to go to the page that contains them. We especially hope that for those who were unable to attend the memorial service that these recordings help you to grieve the loss and celebrate the life of Bruce. Update 7/8/2007 5:30pm: Here is the text from Kevin's remembrance of his father that he shared as part of the memorial service (look for Karin's remembrance and a reference to pictures from the memorial service below this posting):
On behalf of my family I'd like to thank you all for showing up today to celebrate the life of my dad. I know it's a bit crowded in here, but we felt that it was appropriate to have this service in my parents' home church.
I'd also like to thank everyone for the support you've show our family. One thing is clear and that is that God has blessed us richly with many friends and I know that has meant a lot to my Mom.
As you know, my dad was on his way to visit my family in Wenatchee when he crashed at the Cashmere airport. While we had talked the day before about a possible visit, it wasn't until my mom called me letting me know that he was late closing his flight plan that I knew for sure it was his intention to come visit us. And while his sudden death will leave a void in our lives that cannot be filled, there is no doubt that he died doing something he loved, and that his last minutes on this earth were spent enjoying life and that his untimely death spared him a future that he did not desire.
It was not widely known that he had been diagnosed with a form of blood cancer almost two years ago, and was just reaching the point where he would soon need to make some decisions regarding treatment, and let's just say my dad wouldn't have been the best "patient" in the world. He closely guarded the news of his condition and would not have liked the attention that his cancer might have ultimately brought.
Through this whole ordeal, God has shown his mercy in so many ways. Because of my dad's diagnosis, I think it's safe to say that nothing was left unsaid. My comments today are pretty much a summary of a eulogy given bit by bit over the last couple years, combined with some additional memories I thought I'd share.
Much has been written about Bruce Kennedy and his accomplishments under various titles, but the work he did under the titles of father and husband are the ones I know best. He modeled the traits that I aspire to and his success as a father surpassed the success of his career.
He took pride in his working class roots and his University of Alaska education. I loved to hear the stories of how he had to fix pipes the middle of winter, or burn tires just to thaw the ground to get to a busted sewer line. By the way, I'm not sure that's the most environmentally friendly thing to do.
We lived a good life, but there were no country club memberships, no vacation homes, no indulgences other than his little Cessna 182. He did all the maintenance on the house my parents have lived in since 1973, with me doing the critical job of holding the flashlight.
As you know, my dad spent much of his adult life working with Alaska Airlines in various capacities. When he started, Alaska was just a little airline struggling to compete against the big boys. My dad used to bring home a report put out perhaps by Aviation Week & Space technology that showed how many planes of which type each airline had. At the time, United, Western, Northwest, Eastern, Braniff, TWA, Pan AM, Allegheny, even PSA and Hughes Airwest all had good sized fleets numbering into the hundreds for some. Alaska had 8.
As a child, I loved the industry, and remember vividly some of the proud moments in the history of Alaska Airlines. I remember the delivery ceremony of the first new 727-200, the dedication of the new maintenance hangar at Sea-Tac, the building of the corporate headquarters, the opening of the first reservations center, the expansion of the air freight building, Jet America and Horizon joining the family….. the list goes on and on. Because of my interest in the industry, he would frequently share what was going on at the office with me. It was life on the edge, and I got to live it vicariously through him. There was the constant fear of one of the majors taking Alaska on in the Seattle-Anchorage market, a fare war, or the threat of a takeover. He felt a great responsibility for Alaska Airlines, its employees, and for the communities it served. My dad was an Alaskan at heart, and he was determined that the airline that bore the name of the state he loved would remain as unique and independent as the people it served.
Whenever we would travel he would always be sure to talk to employees to get the latest news, or just see how they were doing. He sincerely valued their input, and it amazed me how he seemed to remember so many names. He may not have been able to spend a lot of time with people, but the time he spent was highly valued. It was that way with everyone, with greetings punctuated with his trademark "high-angle handshake" or "bone crusher" hugs, the latter likely contributing to more than a few trips to the chiropractor.
Many of you are familiar with the prayer cards that are on the trays on Alaska flights, and included in your bulletin today. While the practice was originally started by a predecessor, Ben Beneke, it was something that my dad took great pride in. And while I know that he appreciated the positive letters he received, it was the complaints that he always took the time to respond to personally. I still remember reading a letter filled with hate and threats of never flying Alaska Airlines again, and seeing his response beside it. Calm, thoughtful, and full of conviction. Now, as I look back, I have a hard time remembering when he was any other way. He was never afraid to make the unpopular decisions when they had to be made. I recall his time as head of Alaska, and the many challenges that came with that role. Specifically, I recall some of the labor issues that led to people picketing in front of our house and church. There were difficult times, but he knew that tough decisions needed to be made to keep the airline competitive and growing.
My wife and I had the opportunity to travel with my parents on the last Alaska flight to the Russian Far East as the route would not be economically feasible the following season. It was a happy and sad occasion for the obvious reasons, and the flight was full of mostly employees going to deliver supplies to orphanages in the cities served by Alaska. While we were in Magadan, my dad made it a point to go visit the governor with whom he had worked to arrange service to the then Soviet Far East. As I listened to him talk to my dad for about an hour about the hopes he had for Russia, and the challenges that lay ahead in the post cold-war era, I think they both felt as though they had played a small part in bridging the gap between the two superpowers. It was a proud moment for me.
My dad was also someone who loved to learn. I was always amazed at the depth of his knowledge. In fact, outside the world of technology, there was rarely a topic that he did not know better than I. He was always reading, always sending off an email with a copy of something he had read on the Internet. Perhaps some of you were "lucky" enough to be on the TO: line on some of those. Most of his emails were political in nature—in fact, we always thought he should go into politics. He LOVED to talk about government and could go on at length. Interestingly, I grew up in a Republican family. Trickle-down economics, rising tide lifts all boats and all that. Over the last decade he became more and more concerned with issues such as the trade deficit, the decline in the value of the dollar, the struggles of the middle and lower classes, the PATRIOT act, and the tendency of using war as a solution to complex problems. He was proud of his military service, and would frequently remind me NOT to pay attention to just the soldiers killed, but also those wounded, as their lives would likely never be the same. He loved to discuss current issues, and would frequently send articles or his own editorials to close friends, and those of us lucky enough lucky enough to be called family. There was no unsubscribe link those emails.
Believe it or not, he was a Howard Dean delegate in the local Democratic caucus, but I think that ended with that whole crazy scream thing. That's been a bit of a family secret up until now.
Another thing that was missed in all the news reports was the fact that my dad liked station wagons. And he didn't like just any station wagon. He liked the ones that one could easily confuse for an aircraft carrier if it were not for the wood paneling on the side. Unfortunately for me, that interest occurred just as I was entering high school. Let me just say that it is pretty much impossible to look cool when you're driving a station wagon with seating for 10! And apparently there isn't much of a market for wagon parts because despite leaving the keys in the ignition and the doors unlocked, the car always remained where I parked it.
Over the years he brought great joy to 3 or 4 different individuals by buying wagons that I'm pretty sure wouldn't even be taken by charities for a tax deduction.
The funny thing is that a few years ago my dad actually did find someone he could donate a wagon to. He had picked up a Buick Roadmaster wagon—you know, the one that Buick discontinued after just a couple years due to lack of demand? Anyway, that meant he had a surplus wagon, he arranged the donation. Well, I think they were going to be gone on the day that the agency could pick up the car, so my dad parked it out front of the house, put the keys and title on the seat, and left. When he returned, the car was gone and all seemed well until the agency called to ask where the car was. Oops!
A year later my parents got a call from the police letting them know the car had been found and that they owed much more than the car was worth in storage fees. We had some good laughs about that. I'm not sure what happened to that particular wagon, but if you're looking for a good deal on a Roadmaster wagon, see me after the service!
I'm a country music fan, and I can't believe I just said that in front of so many people, but a few years ago Tim McGraw had a song out entitled "Live Like You Were Dying"—perhaps you've heard it. It was about a man who was told he had cancer, and then proceeds to spend the rest of his life doing all those things he'd always wanted to do or wished he had done. The song really resonated with me, and I encouraged my dad to travel and do whatever it was he'd always wanted to do—even said I'd take time off work to join him. He did buy a book titled "1001 places to see before you die" but never took me up on my offer. He seemed to consider it occasionally, but there was always something else that he felt was more important. Now looking back I realize that he was living the life he was supposed to live, and no changes would be necessary. He was doing what he loved, and that was loving his family, serving others, and bringing his unique talents to both Alaska Airlines and Quest Aircraft.
My dad loved the freedom that flying brought. He loved to fly to remote airstrips, and just sleep under the wing or in a tent. It was his preferred method of travel and he would take it over a commercial flight if at all possible. Ironically, he somehow he ended up on the TSA's Watch List. He wasn't sure if all former CEO's of airlines are automatically put on that list or if it was because at one time he had an argument with a TSA screener about a tiny little screwdriver that the TSA felt could be used to disassemble the plane while in flight. I'm pretty sure it was the Howard Dean support that did him in. Regardless, nothing got him riled up like a TSA security checkpoint.
There was no TSA on his final flight from the mud baths of Hot Springs, MT to Cashmere. Just an amazing sunset filled with clouds painted in purple and yellow with bright sunstreaks that I had commented looked like a door to heaven had been opened before I even knew of the crash.
It was as if God had reached down and said, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!" Update 7/8/2007 9:45am: Here is the text from Karin's remembrance of her father that she shared as part of the memorial service:
We were hiking up a trail—it was probably an easy trail, but I was just four years old and it took a lot of fast steps to keep up with my grandpa. And I wasn’t so sure how I felt about hiking in general. My mom and grandma had decided to stay in a hotel, but my brother and I were hiking with my dad and grandpa Kennedy outside of Denver. My dad, as always, was an amazing reservoir of information. I kept myself amused by finding more gold than I ever thought possible. It was all micah, fool’s gold, but it was exciting nonetheless. And my dad would tell us the names of different kinds of rock—he knew them all—micah, granite, sandstone, etc and he would tell us how they were formed. But it didn’t take long for the geology lessons to get old, too. And then my brother found a penny on the trail—cool! Where there’s one, there might be more! And sure enough, there were. And over the hours to come, pennies turned to nickels, nickels to dimes, and finally quarters—which were as valuable as gold in my world! Hiking had taken a pretty exciting turn!
It was years later, the idea never having occurred to me, that my dad revealed that indeed he had dropped those coins just to keep us going. Fearful that we would lose all motivation, he improvised and used coins that just happened to be in his pocket to lead us up the trail—with no problem or complaint about keeping up with grandpa K! He parented with the same character with which he did everything in his life. He did it with creativity, integrity, leadership, passion, and compassion.
Dad always credited his strong leadership skills to his time spent in scouts and his time spent as a lieutenant in the US Army. And his involvement with a start-up real estate development company in his early years developed his conviction to think outside of the box. He spent countless hours thawing pipes, unclogging sewers, and fixing anything else with limited resources in the trailers the start-up rented out in Fairbanks. He was a problem solver whether it was avoiding an unfriendly takeover for the airline, finding my ever-misplaced other shoe, or fixing a clogged drain.
My dad’s service in the army impacted us at home as well. It was common that we were assigned jobs around the house or yard to be finished before we could go play with friends or do other things. One summer the task was to wire brush the wrought iron fence down at the end of the driveway and then repaint it. My brother was assigned the fence to the south of the driveway and I to the north. When we finished wire brushing our side, we were to come and get dad for an official “Dad Inspection”. His time in the army had trained him that no inspection was successful unless a shortcoming was found. And so he came and pointed out the areas that needed more work. No project was ever sufficiently completed at the first inspection. But that time, as usual, it was approved on the second inspection. I dreaded “Dad Inspections”, but through that he instilled an expectation for quality in my own work that I like to think will always remain in me.
As an elementary school kid I watched my dad get up early in the morning to read his Bible. He set a goal to read through the entire Bible in a year. In the midst of expanding an airline, plotting to beat the odds of the deregulation of the airline industry, giving generously of his time to help our friends who arrived as refugees, and spending time with Kevin and I, my dad made involvement in our church a high priority. But even more than his commitment to being at church each Sunday and serving several terms as an elder (which is the equivalent of being a church board member), he made his own relationship with Jesus Christ a priority. And it was his relationship with Jesus that guided how he lived his life at home, at work, and everywhere he went.
And where he went was often to the office—but not necessarily directly to the office. Dad drove the carpool to drop us off at Seattle Christian School and then went to the office. When Kevin and I were occasionally home alone in the afternoons, Kev and I always knew we could call my dad. If he wasn’t immediately accessible his executive assistant would always answer the same way: He’s in a meeting right now—would you like me to interrupt him? We always knew we had access to him regardless of who he was with . . . but we also knew that the correct answer was, “no, maybe he can just call me back!” Growing up we always ate dinner together as a family. And he was available to help with homework. But he would usually do homework at the same time as us and, I would guess, for a while after we went to bed. But he was at home.
Dad was proud of Alaska Airlines and, later, of Horizon also. He loved the culture created there. He wore his Alaska lapel pin daily with pride. He said that he wanted to show each and every employee his pride for the company. If he were not outwardly proud of what they were doing together, how would the employees know that they should be too? He loved that customer service is a core value. He always told me that a great leader surrounds him or herself with people who are better than themselves—and he believed he did that with each person he hired or promoted at Alaska Airlines. That pride for the company was instilled in us kids, too. We loved hearing about the business as Dad and Uncle Ron—dad’s predecessor at Alaska and our godfather—talked about the business over coffee most nights in our home. And each time we saw a plane with the smiling Eskimo on the tail landing or taking off, we were told to put our hand over our heart because, “There goes our bread and butter!” And we did!
Outside of work my dad was deeply invested in supporting my mom’s passion of helping in the resettlement of those who came to this country as refugees. It started in 1975 when the first refugees came from Vietnam. Then Cambodia and Laos and later Bosnia and Romania and Kosovo and Ethiopia and the Sudan and Somalia and more. We always had people from other countries in our home—always stopping by and occasionally a family would live with us for a while—so much so that I believe I grew up as a minority in my own home! And it instilled in me a love for other cultures and a compassion for those who are displaced. And my dad’s commitment to partnering with mom was an incredible example of marriage.
While my parents have probably assisted thousands of refugees, only a small percentage of those began their lives in America by living in our home with us. While most of our friends who came as refugees call my parents by their first names, some of the kids who lived in our home, out of love and respect, came to call my parents mama and papa or mom and dad. And my dad certainly played a fatherly role, giving life advice for employment, school, and every aspect of life that all children need help with. He was a role model and father to many.
A number of years ago I called home just to talk, as I often do, and my dad answered the phone. “Hi Dad!” I said, and we started to chat. About half a minute or so into the conversation, I realized that the conversation was surprisingly generic. And then it hit me. “Dad, this is Karin!” He had been trying to figure out who it was! We both laughed. He was dad to many more than just my brother and me.
Dad has always lived life with passion. Whether it was being at the helm of Alaska Air Group, scuba diving, flying, singing—which was not his strong point!—fixing a sprinkler system, or anything else, he did all things with passion. Our theology says that everything we do is an act of worship—we can worship money, success, reputation, or God. My dad truly lived each moment as an act of worship to his Lord and Savior.
Dad’s passion and integrity combined to give him a strong sense of right and wrong and he had a sense of self that helped him commit to do the right thing without compromise. Dad’s opinions and decisions in the workplace were not always the most popular. His was a prophetic voice. He was committed to hearing the opinions of others, taking them into account, and then doing what he thought was right. He didn’t value being liked or being popular. He valued doing what was morally right and what was right for whichever organization he was working with. As the chair of the boards of several organizations, their CEOs and board members would most certainly tell you that the relationship was always primarily about doing what was right and best. Relationship was a secondary concern. But this led to relationships of mutual respect and perhaps without exception there was a warmth that was clearly friendship.
My dad sensed in 1991 that it was time to hand off leadership of Alaska Airlines to the next person. God had let him steward the company for quite a while and he felt God wanted him to invest his life in other endeavors. In typical fashion, dad took me out to eat to tell me of his confidential plans and ask for my thoughts and feelings on it. I knew that he valued my input. Whether about the direction of his life or talking about politics or anything else.
And so, after leaving Alaska Airlines, he was involved in various things. Then, a number of years ago, the idea of developing a plane to be used for Christian mission, humanitarian and relief purposes began to take shape. This was the perfect meshing of my dad’s passions and experience. But to do it like other start-ups was not sufficient. My dad and others hatched a creative development plan to create the whole thing from donations and to structure the business plans such that non-profits would be assisted in buying planes at a subsidized price. It was a crazy idea that should have been impossible. But impossible was never in my dad’s language. And he loved a challenge.
From the time he committed to work with Quest Aircraft Company, my dad worked tirelessly to make it succeed even when they were just days from being out of funding. Though I had watched him lead an airline with great passion for years, his passion for this project was incomparable. And at the time of his death, my dad was thrilled that the Quest Kodiak single turbine prop plane is on the brink of Type Certification—one of his own great quests.
This tragedy has left us shocked and in deep grief. And while nothing can diminish my grief, my pain—our pain—is decreased as we see God’s hand even in this event. My dad finished several big projects recently: The editing of the 75th anniversary history book for Alaska airlines, the 75th anniversary board dinner, being honored by the Seattle Museum of Flight as a Pathfinder for his career in aviation, having confidence in the near certification of the Kodiak, and so much more.
And a year ago when we gathered for a rare family meeting, he said that he could die that day and have no regrets. He knew that when the time of his death arrived, he would see the Lord he loved face to face. And he has.
It’s hard to lose your hero and your dad all at once. I’m gonna miss my dad. I’ll miss his humor and critical thinking—the combination of which sometimes made him cynical. I’m gonna miss running life situations by him. I’m gonna miss calling him to chat for a minute and then realizing we’d talked for over an hour.
I am so glad you are here. Your presence means you have been touched by my dad’s life also. And if you interacted with him at all, you know that one of the things he did was to call out the best in people. He let you know that he cared, then held standards high and insisted that you could be more and better. Not to achieve more for yourself, but to more closely approach what you were created to be—to be your best self. He believed in you.
The world is a better place because of my dad and now my dad is in a better place. Update 7/8/2007 12:50am: Pictures from the memorial service have been uploaded to a newly created photo album entitled, "Memorial Service." To view it, click on the "Photo Album" tab above, and then at the top of the page next to the "Go to Album" text, select the album entitled "Memorial Service" in the drop down list to view it. Update 7/7/2007 3pm: Description of the memorial service that was held on Friday, July 6th, at 2pm:
It was a beautiful, warm sunny day for the memorial service at John Knox Presbyterian Church on Friday—the kind that would have found Bruce out working on his tan, flying his airplane or going for a hike. Guests from the many spheres of Bruce’s life began arriving early and greeted one another and spent time looking at the memory boards on display that the family had created. The memory boards had photos grouped for seven areas of Bruce’s life: The Early Years, Family, From the Grandchildren, Alaska Airlines, Quest Aircraft, Welcome to America (refugee friends) and Adventure.
The main sanctuary was full well before the service began, and the overflow was directed to several other rooms that had closed circuit TV set up. The worship service in celebration of the life of Bruce lasted an hour and a half, with the reading of scripture, the singing of hymns, a beautiful solo sung by family friend Alice Kimsey, a powerful message by the Reverend Dr. Bryan D. Burton, and a sweet time of remembrance led by Bruce’s children, Karin Kennedy Hejmanowski followed by Kevin Kennedy. The memories, thoughts, and feelings that Kevin and Karin shared about their father could not have been any more touching, sweet, funny, or respectful—it was a rich offering during which time stood still and people soaked up every word.
At the conclusion of the service the family recessed and Karleen, Kevin, and Karin took up position at one of the exit doors of the atrium where they received their guests over the next several hours. Guests were in no hurry to leave as they connected with one another, looked at memory boards, enjoyed refreshments, and paid their respects to the family.
The family is deeply touched by the outpouring of love and support we have experienced from family and friends both near and far this past week. We thank you for being a part of our lives.
Photos from the memorial service, as well as Kevin and Karin’s remembrances will be posted to this website shortly. Update 7/3/2007: The following obituary will be run in the Seattle Times and the Seattle Post Intelligencer on 7/4/2007:
Bruce R. Kennedy October 11, 1938 – June 28, 2007
It was Thursday night, June 28, when Bruce Kennedy, piloting his Cessna 182, left this life in a landing accident at Cashmere, WA. A spectacular sunset was the backdrop for Bruce’s final flight into the hands of His loving God. Left to mourn his passing are his wife, Karleen; son Kevin and his wife, Kelley, their children, Hallie and Braden of Wenatchee, WA; his daughter, Rev. Karin Kennedy Hejmanowski and her husband, Ken of Sunnyvale, CA; and two brothers, Charles of Anchorage and Keith of Denver, as well as extended family, a church family, colleagues in business, fellow volunteers, and a host of friends around the globe.
Bruce was born in Denver and lived during WWII in Colorado, Texas, and Kansas with his parents, Roger & Jean Kennedy and two brothers, Charles and Keith. It was when Bruce was in high school that their father’s work as a civil engineer took the family to the Eklutna Project near Palmer, Alaska. Bruce returned “Outside” to finish high school, attend junior college, work for a while, and meet his wife-to-be. But the call of Alaska was clear and he went North again the year Alaska gained statehood.
In Fairbanks Bruce graduated from the University of Alaska, received his ROTC commission, and served two years as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army artillery at Fort Wainwright. It was during that same time that he worked long hours with Northern Alaska Development Company, a small group of U of A students who were involved in real estate development. That company eventually took over Alaska Airlines where Bruce served twelve years as Chairman, President, and CEO.
Bruce married Karleen Isaacson in 1965. Their children, Kevin and Karin, were born in Fairbanks. The family moved to Seattle in 1973 to serve with Alaska Airlines. Since 1975 they have been involved in resettling refugees from Asia, Africa, and eastern Europe. Bruce was an elder at John Knox Presbyterian Church in Normandy Park.
Bruce stepped down from his positions at Alaska Airlines in 1991 intent on doing Christian volunteer work. He continued to serve Alaska Airlines as a member of the Board of Directors until the time of his death. He also served on the Board of Trustees of Crista Ministries, the General Assembly Council of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and other Christian ministries. His great passion for the past six years has been Quest Aircraft Co., of which he served as chair, its purpose being to design and certificate the “Kodiak” airplane for mission flying in remote areas of the world. (questaircraft.com)
A memorial service of worship will be held at John Knox Presbyterian Church on Friday, July 6, 109 Normandy Road, at 2 p.m. Update June 29th: Karleen Kennedy, Bruce's wife, describes what happened, and shares a bit about Bruce's life:
Thursday evening, June 28th 2007, we learned that a plane matching the description of that of my husband had crashed at the Cashmere, WA airport and that the pilot had been killed. Bruce had filed a flight plan for Wenatchee where he looked forward to visiting his grandchildren. His flight plan had not been closed as expected. Learning of the crash in Cashmere, my son, Kevin, drove to the airport to view the crash site. We have every reason to believe the plane was Bruce’s Cessna 182.
Bruce had flown to Sandpoint, ID to visit Quest Aircraft of which he was proud to be Chairman of the Board of Trustees. From Sandpoint he flew to Hotsprings, MT, one of his favorite aviation destinations. From there, his final flight was to take him to Wenatchee via Cashmere.
While we are deeply saddened by the loss of someone we love and admire so much, we rejoice in the knowledge that Bruce is united with his Lord Jesus and take comfort in the fact that he died doing something he loved and in which he took great pleasure. We thank God for the 68 years that God lent him to us, and the 42 years he was my husband, and 39 years he was father to our children.
Bruce served at the time of his death as Chairman of Quest Aircraft Company. Quest was formed in 2000 for the purpose of designing and manufacturing aircraft to serve the needs of mission and humanitarian flying in the challenging parts of the world as well as for commercial sales. The Kodiak, a turbine-powered single-engine plane being produced at Quest’s Sandpoint, Idaho plant, is on the brink of receiving type certificate from the FAA.
Bruce served at Alaska Airlines and its predecessor company for 32 years in management positions, 12 years as Chairman, Chief Executive officer, and President. He continued to serve on the Board of Directors of Alaska Air Group, Inc., after his early retirement from the company in 1991.
Bruce also served on the Board of Trustees of Crista Ministries, Lynnwood, WA. He was a member of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA for six years and served on the board of Mission Aviation Fellowship for 15 years, eight as chair, during his tenure and since his early retirement from Alaska Airlines as well as boards of other Christian organizations. He was awarded honorary degrees from both Seattle Pacific University and his alma mater, University of Alaska.
Bruce was born in Denver, Colorado, October 11, 1938. His family moved to Alaska during his high school years. Even though he returned “Outside” for several years, his heart remained in the 49th state and he returned there to graduate from the University of Alaska. He received his commission as an artillery officer and served his tour of duty at Fort Wainwright, Alaska. During his army tour he married Karleen Isaacson from Roseville, CA, and they made their first home in Fairbanks. Their two children, Kevin (wife, Kelley) and Karin (husband, Ken) Hejmanowski were born there. He is also survived and loved by two grandchildren, Hallie and Braden Kennedy, and two brothers, Chuck (Anchorage) and Keith (Denver) Kennedy.
Tributes and Condolences
Karleen / Janey Bassett (Fort Wainwright friend )
Karleen, If you do see this, I would love to hear from you. Janey
Just learned / Janey Bassett (Fort Wainwright friend )
I just learned of Bruce's death. I have such fond - and cold- memories of our time together in Alaska. Charlie died in 2000. I have often wondered what happened to those friends who were so close for such a short time. I remember when you came to Fai...
A Great Boss and Christian Brother / Don Downs (Employee)
It was with great sorrow that I learned of his passing from Karleen a few weeks ago. I worked for Bruce for about four years and had a great deal of respect for him. It was largely due to his influence that I found Jesus as my Lord and Sa...
Every Time / Kristen Voetmann (Friend)
Dear Friends and Family of Bruce,
I wanted to take a moment to tell you of my interaction with your beloved father, husband, or uncle. My grandfather is Dave Voetmann and early on in the development of the Kodiak I was acquainted wit...
Memories--Fond and Precious / Rick/JoAnn Froese (Friends)
Dear Karlene and family: Our prayers and thoughts are with you for sure just now! We've recently returned from Africa once again and would have missed what has recently occurred-- 'The Lord has come and calleth for thee--Bruce' has just h...
Sympathy and condolences / Merriel Coon (None, but my late husband was a cousin of Jean Converse Kennedy )Read >>