Saturday, January 8, 2011

Donald W. Nyrop 1912-2010

NWA President Donald Nyrop and Board Chairman Croil Hunter symbolically
"burn" the mortgage for 10 Stratocruisers and 10 DC-4s on October 29, 1954,
when the company became debt-free.

Mr. Nyrop's memorial service was today, January 8, 2011, at Colonial Church of Edina, Edina, Minnesota. Several hundred people attended. A few vintage Northwest Airlines uniforms were sprinkled throughout the crowd. Some wore the NWA name tags they once wore, and dozens and dozens of suit jackets and dresses sported NWA service pins, sparkling with diamonds and rubies signifying long years of service. It would have been interesting to tally up the combined years of NWA service in attendance today.
Eulogies were delivered by Mr. Nyrop's three daughters, Kathy, Nancy and Karen, and long-time friend and retired NWA pilot, Norm Midthun.
Stories were abundant, some familiar and some new to me. Among the new ones:
Howard Hughes
One daughter told how Howard Hughes often called Mr. Nyrop at home, late at night, wanting to consult with him about airplanes and airline finance. How I would love to have eavesdropped on these two powerful men of opposite personalities, engaged in shop talk.
The "right" red
Mr. Nyrop loved the color red - the "right" red," he called it. NWA red-tail-red. Another daughter revealed today that one day her Dad took every hand-tool he owned, systematically stripped the finish off the handles, sanded them and carefully painted each one the "right" red.
President Harry Truman
President Truman appointed Mr. Nyrop to lead the Civil Aviation Administration and the Civil Aeronautics Board. This, I knew. But I didn't know that the two met personally over 50 times during that period. More conversations I would have loved to be privvy to.
Grace Nyrop
Mr. Nyrop met his wife-to-be Grace, appropriately, on an airplane. She was an R.N. and a stewardess for American Airlines. They were married for over 50 years.
On the way home just now, I had another wish of the eavesdropping sort. I wished I could have heard all the Donald Nyrop stories being swapped by the hundreds of people in attendance today.
Donald Nyrop was a good man. A man of integrity. And he was undoubtedly the best airline C.E.O. of his time, and maybe even for all time. He was a family man who loved his wife and his kids and shared his values, including the importance of education, with them. His four children completed a total of 27 years in college - each with graduate degrees.


Blogger Susan Turney said...

Thanks so much for posting about the service and all the interesting facts of his life.
I started in 1969 and retired in 2006. What a different place the airline world is now!

January 9, 2011 at 7:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a young man in the 1960's, I too was headed for the airlines. I was driven through admiration of an uncle I never knew. Actually, I met him once when I was 6-7 years old. That uncle was NWA Captain Albert Johnson. I have recently gained quite a handful of stories about Uncle Al, mainly due to the searching of his son and my new found cousin, Rick Seireeni. I thank you for helping him as this in turn has helped fulfill my longing for more information about Uncle Al. If anyone has more stories they care or dare to share about Captain Albert T Johnson, please forward to

March 5, 2011 at 12:34 AM  

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