Last night I got the call from my brother. Our first cousin, John Ellenberg, had been killed in a plane crash in Alaska on Friday. John was 74. He was flying with his fiance, Laurie Buckner, who was also killed in the crash. Here’s a link to the news report from one of the local television stations. A third person piloting the plane was also killed.
John was an entrepreneur, but was first and foremost an avid pilot. His background was in chemical engineering, so he hit it off with Laura. John was also an airplane broker buying and selling planes. I had the privilege of flying with him on several occasions.
I really didn’t get to know John until I was an adult. John got to be very close with the Taylor side of the family. We considered him another brother, and he often came to our various family events.
John had one daughter, Michele, and two grandkids. His loss is tragic and shocking. I could keep on recounting fun times we had, but right now I’m just trying to cope with his leaving us so suddenly.
John’s favorite poem was “High Flight” by John Gillespie Magee. Reagan read this poem after the Challenger disaster, and I think it’s especially appropriate here.
High Flight by John Magee
Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunwards I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds – and done a thousand things
You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hovering there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air,
Up, up the long delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,
Where never lark, or even eagle, flew;
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of god.
Goodbye, Cousin John. I trust you are soaring to even greater heights.
15 thoughts on “Remembering John Ellenberg”
Please accept my heartfelt sympathies on the loss of your cousin, John. I can see the family resemblance! I was raised around airplanes as my dad was a private pilot, and I can appreciate John’s love of aviation.
Very nice post. I’ll keep you and your family in my prayers.
This tribute to John is very moving for me. He shared his love of flying with all of us, always willing to share his passion. Thank you saying what many of us are feeling about the loss of such a loving person and close family member. The photos bring back good memories.
So sorry…admired their plane on the ramp and then saw them on departure. A close aviation here in Fairbanks…our deepest sympathy.
I am John’s daughter. I just for the first time saw your response. I am assuming from your post that you either were on this trip, or that you live and work in Fairbanks, Alaska. I would really like to speak with you further. You can reach me by email or phone. Mljtbrooks@gmail.com or 864-420-1973. Thank you so much, I look forward to speaking with you.
Beautiful tribute to John. I remember hearing him quote this poem with that ever present sparkle in his eye. Thank you for the pictures, especially the first one that captures him perfectly.
Ah Tom…this is so good. You have me in tears this morning. I remember flying through clouds and John saying….”wanta keep on going to heaven!” If anyone could fly there it would be John…and I believe he did!
John lived his life with gusto and passion. I admired that. The memory of flying with him is a treasure. Thank you for this loving tribute.
John was a great guy. Full of life and with with passion for life. He was liked and loved by many… Great friend… He will be missed by many…
Looking through pics last night and I saw some of cousin John taking my son on his 1st airplane ride when he was 3 yrs old. He will be missed.
I am so sorry for your loss
We are all going to miss JD. He was an absolute joy to be around. He lived a full and amazing life. Personally I don’t like flying that much, but I flew with John several times, and would only fly with him. He was always on a mission to get me enjoy it as much as he did. He’d tell me how he used to get car sick and did not like traveling in cars until he was able to drive one himself. He helped me get over it the same way and I did. Thank you JD for the joy you brought me and my family. Your missed more than you will ever know.
Thank you for this beautiful tribute to my dad. He was full of life, and everyone loved him! I am not the only one grieving the loss of a wonderful person.
Thank you for such a touching eulogy. I am ever grateful for the life lessons that he provided me. John is enjoying “High Flight”.
I met John at the 912 rally in Washington. We had a delightful dinner where I got to know a man who had a great zeal for life, a wicked sense of humor and a belief that we lived in the best place on earth. I saw him again at the 8-28 rally and he hadn’t changed a bit.
I am so sorry for the loss of a great patriot and a fascinating man.
I have known John Ellenberg since our undergraduate days at NC State from 1955-1959. We remained friends our entire lives. John was a unique individual who lived his life to the fullest. Our contact was infrequent over the past 50 years, but when we did get together, it was as if no time had passed. His smile and sense of humor always brought cheer to our time together. He left us far too soon.