Daniel M. Rusk, Jr.
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Age 90, passed away peacefully Wednesday surrounded by members of his family. Dan had a brilliant career for over six decades as both a naval aviator and as a prominent business leader in Delaware aviation. He flew biplanes, seaplanes, turboprops, and jets during a distinguished aviation career, amassing thousands of flight hours. He was inducted into the Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame in 2010.
Daniel, formerly of Wilmington and Stroudsburg, PA, was born in Paterson, NJ to Daniel and Mary Rusk in 1922.
Daniel was the wonderful father of six children, Daniel M. Rusk III and his wife, Mimi, of Shawnee, PA; Todd Rusk and his wife, Helen, of Kunkletown, PA; Donna Main and her husband, Steve, of Berlin, MD; Barbara Paolillo and her husband, Paul, of Allentown, NJ; John Rusk and his wife, Sally, of Wilmington; and the late Chad Rusk. He is beloved by eleven grandchildren, Paul, Sarah, Christopher, Lynn, Kimberly, Austin, Matthew, Caroline, Don, Cali, and Daniel IV; and three great grandchildren, Madison, Michael, and Emma.
He was predeceased by his parents, wives Bette Witte Rusk and Monica Morley Rusk, his son, Chad Rusk, and his sisters, Margaret Canfield, Helen Williams, and Shirley Ambrose. He is survived by his brothers George Rusk of Point Pleasant, NJ and Wesley Rusk of East Stroudsburg, PA.
Dan's aviation career began when he left Rutgers University to enlist in the United States Navy during World War II. After his naval aviation training, he was assigned to a bombing squadron with the Atlantic fleet. Dan moved to aircraft carrier fighter squadrons and fought in the Pacific until the end of the war.
Dan continued with the Navy after the war as a flight instructor. He later served as an aide to Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr.
Dan returned to the fleet with an attack squadron and later served as Executive Officer with the famed Hell's Angels fighter squadron (VF-71) for several years during the 1950s. He was the first pilot ever to be decorated as a "Centurion" on the U.S.S. Hornet for making over 100 carrier landings. In total, he served on nine different aircraft carriers. In 1963, after over twenty years of service, Dan retired from the Navy as a Commander.
After his time with the Navy, Dan joined Atlantic Aviation, Delaware's largest aviation company, at the Greater Wilmington Airport. He began as an administrative officer and rapidly rose to become a vice president in finance. Dan was promoted to Vice President and General Manager of the Wilmington Division.
Dan embarked on yet another aviation career in 1992 by starting Airframe Management, Inc. to develop and construct aircraft hangars. Dan recently contributed to the future of aviation as a member of the Aviation Subcommittee of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.
Dan was an avid sailor and loved to travel the world - while in the Navy and with Monica. Whether with his grandchildren or an old military buddy, he was always ready with a joke or a story and never shied away from a good debate. He was also active in the Friends of Rockwood Museum, and he volunteered with Winterthur Museum and with the Boy Scouts of America. He was a member of Grace Episcopal Church for over forty years
A Memorial Service will be held on Monday, February 25, at 2 pm at Grace Episcopal Church, 4900 Concord Pike, Wilmington, DE.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the Ronald McDonald House, 1901 Rockland Rd, Wilmington, DE 19803.
Published in The News Journal from Feb. 23 to Feb. 25, 2013