On October 4, 2011, Ken Dahlberg, my Dad, greased another landing. It was night but the dawn was coming on the horizon. The clear sky was full of stars in their constellations, like angels in formation watching in anticipation. As he began his approach his instrument panel glowed brightly, accentuating that familiar gleam in his eye. He smiled. Suddenly, the radio crackled, "N151KD, you are cleared for landing, well done thou good and faithful servant."
That gleam in his eye. That smile when he saw you. It's the immediate impression in my mind when I think of him. His optimism, his courage, his kindness, and his resilience. He made dogged determination look easy. He disarmed his adversaries with a smile and a quip, always a comeback. He comforted his family with his obvious affection.
I think he loved his family more than airplanes, but it was probably close sometimes. He loved business almost as much as airplanes. I think he loved golf, but I'm not sure why. I think he just loved all the people that came along with these things. He enjoyed his life, and you could tell.
So, one is very fortunate to have Ken Dahlberg as his father and I am very mindful and appreciative of that. Perhaps most important was learning the sense of fulfillment that comes from creating something. He knew how to do that.
He always had a vision, and knew if he just took just one step foreword, he'd already be ahead of everyone else. His trademark leadership imperative meant getting there first and maximizing your position. Actually knowing exactly what you're doing was not a prerequisite as long as most thought you might know where you're going and the vision was clear. The details could be sorted out once momentum was established. A special thanks to all those detail sorter outers who helped along the way
A persistent man, he had a dream for a better life for his family and those around him. He fought for this right to succeed, and then he fought through obstacles and setbacks until his better idea became a reality. All the while formulating another big idea.
In all my ventures, his gems of wisdom have guided me. I will never forget his essential influence in all I've accomplished. Indeed, I impart these on a regular basis to my protégés. So many times I find myself saying or writing to them, “My Dad used to tell me…”
There were times when things were down and prospects looked bleak. “Well, you can't fall out of the basement.” He'd say. “Start where you are.” was his advise, always looking forward and not dwelling on the past.
“There is nothing more powerful than an idea in motion” He loved ideas and knew how to create a positive emotional response.
We should all be grateful for people like my Dad, who put forth so much effort and risk so much. It is this lonely determination, when others disdain his plans, setbacks impede his progress, and success seems so distant, that an inner energy drives him forward to fulfill his mission. Because of this, he enriched many lives and families and made possible the dreams of those who followed him.
But in the end, accomplishments fade; ambitions are naturally replaced with the reality of our humanity. In this, we experience a more pure love. As my Dad went through this last difficult period of his life we knew and expressed our love for each other. It was important for him to know I was OK. I told him we are different men, and he understood. I told him I was proud of him and I knew he was always proud of me. These are things that are important between a father and a son. I realized he was now teaching me how to live with grace, honor, and good humor regardless of condition. I witnessed the enduring love between he and my mother.
His presence is always with me, even when we were apart. And today I know he will live on in my life and those who knew him. I know he is in a place where his soul can soar and his freedom to fly knows no bounds.