DEERFIELD - Frederick W. Ruschmann, Lt. Col. USAF Ret., 88, of Deerfield, went to be with his Heavenly Father on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013, at Charlene Manor Extended Care Facility in Greenfield, surrounded by his loving family.
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He was born in Detroit, Mich., Oct. 6, 1924, the son of Hans and Paula (Franke) Ruschmann.
During WWII, Fred fulfilled his longtime dream of becoming a pilot, learning to fly a B17 before he learned to drive a car. He flew numerous aircraft during his 22-year career including the B25, B17, P61, B29, B47 and the B52 bomber (which he loved to fly). For five years, he trained B29 pilots at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas. He flew support for the Berlin Airlift bringing supplies to keep the planes flying.
During the cold war, Fred was in the Strategic Air Command. While flying 24-hour alerts, he frequently flew practice runs over the Greenfield area, lining up with the statue on the Deerfield Common and dropping a simulated bomb down the chimney of the Greenfield Tap & Die.
He met Jessie Melnik, an Air Force nurse from East Deerfield, while both were stationed in Mobile, Ala., and they married on Jan. 20, 1949.
He retired from the military in 1965 at Shepherd AFB, Texas, the same place where his military career had started.
With his military career over, he moved his family to Deerfield and worked for Berkshire Gas of Greenfield in a number of positions, retiring after 15 years.
Fred was an active member of the Greenfield Christian Missionary Alliance Church. He served in many capacities over the years: teaching Sunday school, singing in the choir and holding numerous positions of church leadership.
Besides his wife of nearly 64 years, he is survived by his children, David (Julia) of Chipley, FL, Paula (William) Sells of Galion, OH, and Elaine (Douglas) Culver of Williamsburg. He also leaves six grandchildren: Corrie, Jessica, Ethan and Laura (Andazola) Sells and Clara and Colman Culver, and great-grandchildren, Paetyn Sells and Raielynne Andazola.
A memorial service will be held later in the spring.
Contributions in his memory are suggested to the Cornerstone Christian School, 385 Chapman St., Greenfield, MA 01301.
Published in The Recorder on Jan. 23, 2013