Obituary- Robert Roy Rasmussen
A service of remembrance is planned July 6 to recall the life of Robert Roy Rasmussen, who died Jan. 31, 2001, at Capitola, Calif., after a brief illness. He was 86.
Mr. Rasmussen was born Nov. 12, 1914, at Sioux Falls, S.D., where he was raised a cowboy. Graduating from high school in 1932 during the Great Depression, he traveled west to Seattle, Wash., from where he ventured farther north to Alaska. Arriving in Fairbanks in winter with only the clothes on his back he soon found work as a lumberjack. In the spring of 1934 he became acquainted with Noel Wein, future founder of Alaska Airlines. From Mr. Wein he learned how to fly, an occupation that he enjoyed until his retirement in 1976.
Mr. Rasmussen served with the Royal Canadian Air Force for a brief period before the United States entered Word War II. He then served in the U.S. Army Air Corp. and completed his military career with the U.S. Marines in Hawaii in 1947. He worked for various airlines throughout the late 1940s and 1950s. Also a civil engineer, he worked for the California Department of Transportation for a brief period. In 1959 Mr. Rasmussen accepted a position with the newly created Federal Aviation Agency and was assigned to the Honolulu office. From this office his duties ranged throughout the Pacific developing new new air routes. In addition, during the post-colonial period he established airports throughout Africa, including the nations of Ethiopia, Congo and Somalia. He also worked at various times in Vietnam and other areas of Southeast Asia from 1963 to 1973. In 1964 he was cited for bravery for swimming shark-infested waters to rescue the lone survivor of a plane crash that occurred during a training exercise on Wake Island in the Pacific. His aviation career spanned roughly the entire history of commercial aviation from 1934 through 1976. During that period he was dedicated to establishing safe air travel throughout the world. One of his last duties for the Federal Aviation Administration was certifying the Boeing 747 for service to Tokyo and Hong Kong.
For more than 30 years Mr. Rasmussen considered Lake Tahoe his home. He appreciated the magnificence of the Sierra and enjoyed hiking, skiing and golfing.
Survivors include his wife of 59 years, Eloise Rasmussen of Capitola, Calif.; sons, Robert Rasmussen of Capitola and Ronald Rasmussen of South Lake Tahoe; daughter, Nancy Mitchell of Mesquite, Ariz.; seven grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.
A graveside remembrance service will take place at 2 p.m. July 6 at Happy Homestead Cemetery, followed by a celebration of his life at 3 p.m. at his South Lake Tahoe home. For directions call (530) 544-8406.
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