Friday, January 13, 2012

Joe Lapensky followed Donald Nyrop at the helm of Northwest Airlines

Lady Skywriter is sad to report the death of Joe Lapensky, a highly regarded leader in the airline industry as well as his community. When he died Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012 at the age of 93, he still lived in the same house in Richfield, MN where he lived before and during his tenure as C.E.O. of Northwest Airlines.

He began at Northwest in 1945 as a junior accountant and never left. He was named president in 1976 and became chief executive officer, replacing Donald Nyrop, three years later.

He led a huge Minnesota company the same way he led his life. Skillfully, quietly and modestly. He saw Northwest Airlines through the turbulent deregulation years; modernizing its fleet, expanding its horizons in Asia and Europe and still avoided the crushing debt that assailed its competitors.

Joe Lapensky never sought the spotlight, in business or life, and gave generously and anonymously to many worthy causes.

He will be missed.


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