Donn E. McGinnis | Obituary

Donn Evans McGinnis, 89, died on Saturday July 3, 2021 at his Pinehurst home surrounded by his wife Sara, children and stepson.

Mr. McGinnis was born July 12, 1931 in Massillon, Ohio, to Roger and Carolyn McGinnis. Mr. McGinnis graduated from high school in Danville, Ill. (1949) and had just started his undergraduate studies when the Korean War broke out in 1950. He enlisted in the United States Navy and was assigned to the Naval Aviation Division as a Flight Engineer. aboard a PBY seaplane on a search and rescue mission from Kodiak and Point Barrow, Alaska. This experience led to a lifelong love of aviation and a burning desire to someday return to Alaska.

After his service in Alaska, Mr. McGinnis returned to Southern California, where in 1953 he began flying as a civilian and obtained his private pilot‘s license in a two-seater Aeronca Champ. Upon completion of his service in the Navy, he returned to his parents in Illinois and resumed his undergraduate studies at Northern Illinois University, where he received his Bachelor of Business Administration in 1954. After the Upon graduation, Mr. McGinnis began his commercial career with General Electric. In 1956 he married Margaret A. Hassler of Aurora, Ill. The couple had two children, Nora Lynn McGinnis in 1959 and Donn William McGinnis in 1960.

Mr. McGinnis became interested in the FBI and filed his application with the agency, but before hearing from the FBI, Boeing Aircraft proposed and he accepted a position in Seattle, Washington, in 1962. He moved his young family in Belview, Wash. , and began working at Boeing when in 1963 his FBI application was accepted, and within weeks was due to report to the FBI training center just outside of Washington, DC He accepted and began his career 22-year-old with the FBI. The special agent assignments included Dallas-Fort Worth, Newark-Patterson, NJ, and ultimately Quantico, Virginia, where he taught firearms and special weapons and tactics (SWAT) to new FBI recruits as well as ” seasoned police officers who were selected to attend National Police Academy training provided by the FBI.

Throughout his career with the FBI, his passion for aviation never wavered and in 1967 Mr. McGinnis purchased a Cessna 172 (N8462X) from his uncles who had purchased the new aircraft in 1962. He shared his love of aviation with his son at a young age, and together they could be found “buzzing” at local airports most Saturdays. Some of his favorite haunts were Lincoln Park (N07) in New Jersey and Shannon Airport (EZF) in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Mr McGinnis has flown his family on numerous day and weekend trips to the beach in Ocean City (26N), NJ, to a family friend’s farm in the north from Pennsylvania, and back to his childhood home in Massillon, Ohio (CAK), to name just a few of his favorite destinations. Mr. McGinnis still owned the “62X” and kept it in a hangar at the Moore County Airport (SOP) in Southern Pines.

In 1986, Mr. McGinnis reached the mandatory FBI retirement age of 55 while living in Columbia, SC. He also began teaching firearms training to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, which quickly realized his abilities and needed a “new” pilot for their surveillance plane. Mr McGinnis was a deputy in Richland County and, along with another deputy, mainly supervised drug-related suspects. One deputy would fly the plane while the other would take care of the gyroscopic binoculars. The team was quick to realize each other’s strengths and often Deputy McGinnis was the pilot in command, while his partner tended the binoculars and radioed the suspect’s location to people. floor assistants.

Mr. McGinnis retired from the Richland County Sheriff’s Department in 1996 and moved to Pinehurst, where he was able to relax and play golf. However, he never lost his desire to return to Alaska and in 1999 he did. He applied to become a pilot for Skagway Air Service and began spending his summers in Skagway, Alaska, transporting passengers to and from Alaska and doing aerial tours over Glacier Bay. It flew supplies to remote towns accessible only by air and carried passengers requiring medical services not available at Skagway. Flying in Alaskan weather conditions and over its remote and rugged terrain is unforgiving and requires not only professional flying skills, but seasoned judgment as well to avoid trouble. While flying over glaciers with his daughter, he pointed out various clusters of rocks, each with a name, that pilots used to navigate this remote terrain.

It was on one of his scheduled passenger service flights from Skagway to Juneau that Mr. McGinnis met his wife, Sara Barnes McGinnis, who was working for Holland America Cruise Lines as a land tour guide when the ships docked at Skagway. This chance encounter was the start of a 21-year romantic relationship and 20-year marriage between two people meant for each other. They shared the love of Alaska, family, friends, wildlife and travel at the annual McGinnis family reunion every October. Even after Mr. McGinnis quit flying for Skagway Air Service, he and Sara returned to Skagway from their Pinehurst home to visit friends and enjoy the mystical environment of Alaska. They even spent a winter there living in an apartment above the local hardware store.

Donn received the FAA Wright Brothers’ Master Pilot Award on June 6, 2006, at a ceremony at Moore County Airport. The FAA’s most prestigious award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated professionalism, skill and aviation expertise for at least 50 years while piloting aircraft.

Mr. McGinnis made his last 62X flight on April 20, 2020. It was a typical flight around the Pinehurst area just long enough to “burn off the cobwebs” and perform a soft landing at SOP-Moore County Airport. He never stopped loving flying and “going around the airport” with his many “Airport Bum” friends.

Mr. McGinnis is survived by his beloved wife, Sara, of Pinehurst; her daughter, Nora Blevins and her husband, Chuck, of Raleigh; his son, Donn W. McGinnis and his wife, Susan, of Denver, North Carolina; his brother, A. Ashley McGinnis and his wife, Betty, of Fairhope, Alabama; her grandchildren, Sarah Calhoun, Mallory McGinnis, Rebecca Ross and Erin McGinnis; and his great-grandson, Blaze. He is also survived by his extended family, including his stepson, Kenneth Roberts, of Tallahassee, Florida; her daughter-in-law, Karen Mitcheom and her husband, Mikael, of Granite Bay, Calif., along with their children, Peyton and Noah.

Mr. McGinnis was predeceased by his parents, Roger L. and Carolyn McGinnis, formerly of Raleigh.

A memorial service will be held at Moore County Airport on Saturday, July 17, at 1 p.m. in the main terminal. Contact either Donn W. McGinnis at (704) 641-4313 or Bobby Cox or Scott Malta at Moore County Airport at (910) 692-3212 for more information. Mr McGinnis’ remains will be buried next to his parents at Sunset Hills Burial Park in Canton, Ohio on October 23 of this year during the annual family reunion he loved so much. Later, the family will take some of his ashes to disperse them in Alaska, “La Grande Terre” which he adored.

Services entrusted to Boles Funeral Home of Southern Pines.

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