VILLA HILLS - Robert C. Cushman always wanted to be a pilot. At the age of 19, he applied to join the Army Air Corps, only to be rejected because he didn't meet the weight requirement.
His daughter, Stepanie Baker of Villa Hills, said her father was more than a little tenacious. After being turned away, he went home, ate five pounds of bananas and returned to the induction center the next day. The bananas did the trick, adding enough weight overnight for him to be accepted into the service. His dream to fly came true, and aviation became his lifelong career.
Ret. Lt. Col. Cushman died Saturday, Sept. 22, at his home from Parkinson's disease. He was 92.
He was born in Kimball, Neb., to farming parents, Fred and Alice Cushman. He was the second of four children. Following the loss of the family's farm during the Dust Bowl, his family moved to Long Beach, Calif.
He graduated from high school and attended Long Beach Community College before entering the Air Force.
He served in the Eighth Air Force Bomber squadron during World War II. He participated in D-Day and the Berlin Air Lift. He also flew missions during the Korean War.
While he was stationed in Newburgh, N.Y., he met his future bride, Margaret Hinsberger. The couple married in 1963.
Military life took his family to Japan, Norway and across six states. He retired in 1963 with 12 medals and commendations.
Mr. Cushman took a civilian position with NATO. He earned a bachelor's degree in business through night classes. He later worked at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.
Aside from being a professional pilot, Mr. Cushman was the resident "Mr. Fix-it."
"I didn't even know there were such things as repairmen until I was older," his daughter said. "My father could fix and build anything. He was always scouting for something to do. He never sat down and rested. He wasn't capable of it."
Mr. Cushman played golf, racketball and handball and ran two miles a day until he was 86.
His wife died in January; son, Robert Cushman, died in 2007; and grandson, Robert Cushman, died 2011. His sisters and brother also died previously. Along with his daughter, survivors include two grandsons, Mark Cushman of Prescott, Ariz., and James Baker of Villa Hills; and two great-grandchildren.
Services has taken place.
Memorials: The Smile Train, 41 Madison Ave., 28th Floor, New York, NY 10010.
Online condolences to www.linnemannfuneral homes.com.
Published in the Kentucky Enquirer from Oct. 1 to Oct. 2, 2012