Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Florida: Clearwater man saw his 1946 Piper Cub fly just before he died

Walter Crosby worked seven years to restore his Piper Cub before being stopped by cancer

CLEARWATER — On Saturday, the Clearwater & North Pinellas Times ran a story about four local men who worked feverishly through January to help finish the seven-year-long restoration of a 1946 plane for their friend Walter Crosby, who was dying from cancer.

Crosby had bought a dilapidated Piper Cub in 1962 with plans to refurbish it completely, then fly it.

At 10:45 p.m. the day the article appeared, Crosby, 74, of Clearwater died. He never flew the plane, but he saw it take off twice from his bedroom window overlooking Clearwater Airpark. The first was a test flight; the second flight carried his wife, Geri.

As the story made its way across the Internet, several emails came in from people who knew the couple. One was from Linda Vintro, a real estate broker in Massachusetts who had sold at least one of the Crosbys' homes when they lived in Lakeville, Mass.

Work and family commitments had consumed the time that Walter Crosby needed to restore the plane. So in the meantime, parts of it were stored all over the house, even under the beds and in the dining room .

The Realtor wrote that this caused "many a fun comment" from prospective buyers.

She also remembered Crosby as a good citizen, a "man of substance who put off his own fun for years to take care of business."