Clifford "Cliff" Robert Everts, 95, passed away on Dec. 7, 2017, at home with family in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Cliff leaves his beloved wife of 59 years, Betty Everts; his daughters, Melanie Moyer, Debbie Baggen, Karen Wing, Vicki (Albert) Parrish and Susan (Don) Hoshaw; son, Robert (Paula) Everts; 16 grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; and so many close and cherished family and friends.
Born and raised in Yonkers, N.Y., the son of Julius and Julia Everts, who emigrated from West Germany, Cliff was the youngest of five children. He took his first airplane ride when he was 12 years old, often saying, "I couldn't get over that first ride." He started his flight training in a Taylorcraft when he was 15, and ultimately soloed before he had his drivers permit.
In December 1941, Cliff left home and signed up for the Civilian Pilot Training program to support the war effort, and in search of adventure through aviation. In the summer of 1942, he accepted a job with Alaska Star Airlines (now Alaska Airlines), as a co-pilot in Anchorage. He made it to Alaska in February 1943, with $78 in his pocket. Within weeks of arriving, he loved Alaska and believed that "people care about each other and you get to know people right away."
In 1944, Cliff moved to Fairbanks, Alaska, to become a flight instructor for Fairbanks Air Service and soon ended up working at Wien Airlines. He flew for Wien for 35 years (1945-1980), amassing over 30,000 flight hours, carrying mail, cargo and passengers throughout Alaska.
Cliff was an entrepreneur at heart. He dabbled as a restaurateur and motel owner, sold ice cream to village residents along his flight routes, purchased a gold mine, bought and sold military surplus, and built Airport Gas & Oil to serve residents and employees in the Fairbanks airport vicinity.
After retiring from Wien in 1980, Cliff committed his full attention to Alaska Rental & Sales and Everts Air Fuel. He built his business on the philosophy of providing the best service at the best price for his customers, regardless of what they were hauling - fuel, reindeer, building materials - or what they landed on - lakes, gravel bars, ice strips or airport runways.
Cliff was humble and appreciative of the honors and awards he received over the years. In October 2007, he received the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Master Pilot Award and, in September 2011, the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce dedicated the East Ramp entrance of the Fairbanks International Airport in his name. In 2012, the Alaska Air Carriers Association recognized him as an Aviation Legend and in 2013, he was inducted into the Alaska Aviation Hall of Fame, receiving the Alaska Aviation Entrepreneur Award. He was a longtime member of the Air Line Pilots Association, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Pioneers of Alaska Igloo #4, Quiet Birdmen, Elks Lodge #1551 (past Exalted Ruler) and Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce (Transportation Committee).
When asked what Cliff was most proud of, a smile would spread across his face and he would say: "I am most proud of my family, just who they are and everything they do." When reflecting, he always gave full credit to his wife, Betty, and their six children for building an incredible life, and allowing him to pursue his aviation and business dreams for 75 years. His adventures, successes and, above all, commitment to his family are his legacy and, like the aircraft he loved so much, legendary.
A celebration of life will be held at 3 p.m. on Jan. 13, 2018, at the Westmark Fairbanks Hotel Gold Room. For questions, please contact Fairbanks Funeral Home at 907-451-1110.
Published by Anchorage Daily News from Dec. 17 to Dec. 18, 2017.