Calvin Davis Arnett
One of the greatest members of the Greatest Generation, has died at the age of 89.
Like the best of that storied generation, Calvin learned to work hard growing up during the Great Depression, risked his life defending his country, loved and supported his family, and never complained.
Calvin was born and grew up in Detroit, Michigan, the ninth of ten children. He had both early morning and afternoon paper routes yet found the time to become an Eagle Scout. He was 17 when the Pearl Harbor attack occurred, and soon he was traveling around the country as a pilot in training in the Army Air Corp. He survived every cut to become a co-pilot. Typical of him, he even found things to like about basic training, writing to his parents, "I think I can say I've enjoyed every minute of it."
Based in England during the latter part of World War II, Calvin co-piloted a B-24 on many bombing runs over Nazi Germany. On one flight his plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire, and he managed to guide the badly damaged plane back to a safe airport in Belgium. He was so unflustered by this that he didn't think to mention it to his children until they were in their 50s.
As a depression-era child growing up in extremely tight circumstances, Calvin never dreamed of going to college, but thanks to the G. I. Bill he was able to attend the University of Michigan, graduating in 1949. While at U-M he met his beautiful future wife Marjorie Littlefield. When they met, Marjorie was being courted by the son of a wealthy Texas oil family, but Calvin, always quietly confident, was not afraid of a little competition. "He never had a chance," he would later say of the soon-discarded Texan.
Marrying in 1948, Calvin and Marjorie soon settled into Livonia, Michigan, and started a family that would grow to five children. Calvin rose steadily in the ranks of Ford Motor Company, but when offered a big promotion that would have required often being out of town away from his family, he turned it down. His family was his life.
Always active, Calvin had a vast array of interests and activities—sports (especially his beloved Michigan Wolverines), movies (as long as they had no violence), history, literature, music from Big Band to classical to opera, and travel. He traveled throughout the world, first with Marjorie and later with his children.
After Marjorie's untimely death in 1985, Calvin moved to South Bend, Indiana to be equidistant to his grown children. He lived in a simple apartment, but made it the most beautiful apartment in town by planting a gorgeous rose garden around the place.
Calvin loved being a grandfather. Hundreds of times he made the 5-hour round trip to West Lafayette to attend the sports events and concerts of granddaughters Robin and Kelly Arnett. Nothing made him happier than keeping track of his grandchildren and their various activities. His legacy was not fame and fortune or social status, but his remarkably accomplished children and grandchildren.
Calvin was preceded in death by his wife Marjorie; his parents Guy Edward Arnett and Margaret Konsler Arnett of Henderson, Kentucky; brothers Stuart, Raymond, Joseph, James, and Robert; and sisters Hazel, Francis, and Katherine. He is survived by his children Steven Arnett (Delphine), Michael Arnett M.D. (Barbara), Claudia Steinbrecher (Richard), Dr. Jeffrey Arnett (Lene), Dr. Peter Arnett (Melissa), and his grandchildren Robin Arnett, Kelly Arnett M.D., Nathan Arnett, Raina Arnett, Miles Arnett, Paris Jensen, and Vivienne Lin.
The family would like to thank the devoted caregivers at two assisted living facilities in Indianapolis: the Harrison and the Berkshire; and also family doctor Thomas Dascoli and ENT surgeon Burke Chegar and their staffs, for their kindness and skill in keeping Calvin active and healthy until the last day of his long life.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Undergraduate Student Aid Fund at the University of Michigan.
Arrangements have been entrusted to
Flanner and Buchanan - Broad Ripple.