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Bidding farewell to a friend

In preparing this column monthly now for a few years I tried to minimize discussion of personal relationships, focusing instead on concepts and concerns that affect members of the Minnesota Pilots Association. I am going to make an exception this month to provide what is for me an emotional tribute to an individual who played a very supportive role in the founding of the Minnesota Pilots Association, working behind the scenes at a number of levels to promote our success. This delightful person, Jan Strathy, recently went West after a long and powerful battle with ovarian cancer.

I first met Jan while on the faculty at Mayo Clinic at a speaking engagement at Madden’s Resort. Jan was an extremely active obstetrician/gynecologist and her encouragement to move to the Twin Cities was very important. I sat across from her at the dinner table and was introduced to her husband, a talented orthopedic surgeon, Gregg Strathy. Both trained at Mayo, but our conversation drifted toward aviation. Gregg had been active in aviation previously, but had been in a bit of an aviation lull, but the discussions that evening relit the proverbial fire in Gregg’s belly for aviation. Over the next few years he added more ratings and became a huge aviation advocate…as was Jan. We bought a Cessna 182 RG together and it wasn’t long before Jan was getting her private pilot certificate and it was a real joy to watch this wonderful couple fly together. They instilled their love of aviation in their son, Bryan, who has now gone through the ranks to become Captain at Sun Country Airlines. Bryan and Jillian, his bride, shared a love for aviation and delivered a beautiful granddaughter to Jan and Gregg literally days before Jan’s passing.

I approached Jan to be a founding board member and I was surprised that she respectfully declined, and instead supported my thoughts of Gregg as a board member. She had much to do, and she would help support us as she could, she said and I left it at that. I think now that I just didn’t understand all she had to do before she departed for the West. She helped with registration at the GMAGs until her health prevented it, but she entirely supported Gregg, support which the other board members greatly appreciated.

I chose to write about Jan because she is a wonderful example of those men and women who work behind the scenes to make big things happen, and do so selflessly, not looking for personal gain. We have a woeful shortage of these people generally, but I think aviation is the exception to this. There are many who flip pancakes, give Young Eagle rides, share experiences with young people all in the name of being a staunch supporter.

With the loss of Jan our hearts go out to Gregg and his family and the many friends who were touched by her life. For me, I lost one of my dearest, longest friendships…they type of friendship that comes along once in a blue moon. We are very thankful for having let us share our love of aviation and life with Jan. Blue Skies and Smooth Air, Jan.


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