James Dewey Diss, age 82, of Poplar Grove, IL, passed away at home on August 12, 2019. He was born on May 14, 1937 in Lima, OH to Dewey and Verna (Buchenroth) Diss. Jim died from complications related to a stroke he suffered on December 20, 2006.
Jim loved aviation. As a young boy Jim goffered and swept floors at Rice Aviation in Van Wert, OH, and he would do anything just to be around airplanes. Jim Rice took a liking to him and would let him ride along when ferrying airplanes. Jim also had a keen interest in watching the service and repair of the airplanes, so when his “work” was done he would spend all his time shadowing the shop mechanics.
Jim attended Toledo University, Toledo, OH, Mechanical Engineering School and in 1956, at age 18, he obtained his Private Pilot license at Rice Aviation in Van Wert, OH. His first solo flight was in an Aeronca 7AC, N84520. Jim received his Commercial license in March 1958, when he was 21. He added more aviation related licenses, Flight Instructor license in 1964, Ground Instructor in 1965, and Flight Engineer in 1967.
From 1959 to 1961, Jim flew part-time single engine airplanes as a ferry and charter pilot, and he worked as corporate pilot for Burns Manufacturing, in Augusta, Georgia from 1962 to 1963. In 1964 Jim worked as a Flight Instructor for Fort Wayne Air Service, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Jim served in the United States Air National Guard of Indiana from 1956 to 1959 and in the US Air Force Reserve from 1959 to 1962.
In December 1965, Jim left Purdue University’s, Professional Pilot Program, in Lafayette, IN, to go to work for Delta Airlines. He was hired by Delta as a Co-Pilot flying CV-340/440, and later DC-6 and DC-7. As Captain Jim flew DC-9, and B-757/767. Jim retired from Delta Airlines in May 1992 after 26½ years of service.
After retirement, in 1993, Jim obtained a Seaplane license, and in 1995 his Airplane Mechanic, Airframe & Powerplant (A&P) license. From 1992 to 2006 he flew a number of different private aircraft, such as a C-172, L-19 Bird Dog, N2S-5 Stearman, C180 SkyWagon, and a favorite, only second to his C-180, a DHC-2 DeHavilland Beaver.
In 2006 Jim submitted an application to be considered for the Wright Brothers “Master Pilot” Award. This Award was instituted by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to recognize pilots who have practiced safe flight operations continuously, and without an accident, for 50 or more years during the course of their aviation careers. On November 4, 2007 Jim was presented this award, almost 1 year after he had a stroke.
For over 35 years the Oshkosh, WI EAA AirVenture July dates were written on Jim and Vicky’s new year calendars, and hotel reservations were made for the next year’s AirVenture. This tradition continued for many years after Jim’s stroke, in spite of the limitations of his wheelchair. Jim is survived by his wife, Victoria (Vicky), his children, Rebecca (Chuck) Morgan, Barbara Diss, and Ben (Mel) Diss, his 6 grandchildren, and 7 great-grandchildren.
A Celebration of Jim’s life will be held on Friday, August 16th, 2019. Visitation will be from 4:00-6:45 pm, and Service at 7:00 pm at Anderson Funeral and Cremation Services, 218 West Hurlbut Avenue, Belvidere, IL. Patrick Anderson will officiate. To light a candle or write a condolence, please visit www.AndersonFCS.com.