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Gerard Arthur ‘Gerry’ Tremblay, 62, career pilot celebrated for his rescue efforts and leadership

Gerard Arthur 'Gerry' Tremblay
Gerard Arthur ‘Gerry’ Tremblay

WILMINGTON — Gerard Arthur “Gerry” Tremblay, 62, passed away Wednesday, May 29, 2019. Born May 8, 1957, in Holyoke, Massachusetts, he was raised in South Hadley, Massachusetts, by his late parents, Joseph (Ralph) and Lillian (Gable) Tremblay.

Gerry graduated from South Hadley High School in 1976, where he was a member of the National Honor Society and yearbook photographer. During his youth, he was a member of Civil Air Patrol and continued to participate and support the Cape Fear Composite Squadron. At the age 16, Gerry received his private pilot’s license and continued over his lifetime to receive flight instructor (CFI and CFII), multi-engine and airline transport licenses and was typed in the Learjet and Citation jet.

After high school, he attended Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He received both an Associate Degree of Arts in Aviation Technology in 1978 and his Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering in 1980 from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. After college, he was an instructor pilot for the U.S. Air Force in San Antonio, Texas. The opportunity to attend the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Academy in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to train as an air traffic control specialist came into his life. In August of 1982, he began his career of air traffic in Groton, Connecticut, and retired in 2007 from Wilmington International Airport Air Traffic Control Tower after he and his family relocated to Wilmington in 1994.

On May 9, 1987, he married “his Annie” and arrived by helicopter at the church, much to the surprise of many guests.

In 1987, Gerry received the National Air Traffic Controller of the Year Award for talking down a woman (Mrs. Elizabeth Mohr) whose husband, Frances, experienced a fatal heart attack in flight. Letters of appreciation signed by B. Keith Potts, associate administrator of Air Traffic in 1987, were received for meritorious service to prevent a life-threatening accident as well as his receiving an FAA Point with Pride Award for the event. He maintained a friendship with Mrs. Mohr until her passing in 2016. After the event, Gerry was interviewed by Gayle King and the CBS Evening News regarding his extraordinary lifesaving effort. An article was also written in Yankee Magazine highlighting the event. In 1985, Gerry also received an FAA Point with Pride Award for coordinating a rescue effort for a downed Cherry Point military aircraft saving the life of the pilot.

During Gerry’s lifetime, he flew as a contract pilot for Applied Analytical Industries, corporate pilot for General Dynamics/Electric Boat Division and Textron. He was a charter pilot for New England Airlines in Westerly, Rhode Island, and Cable Patrol Pilot for AT&T with New England Airlines. He inspired many and loved speaking to youth about entering the aviation world as a career. One example was his participation in a career day program in a Connecticut high school where he promoted air traffic, flight standards and flight service careers to students. He taught flying to many over the years, and his experience in aviation made him an excellent teacher as he always wanted the most thorough instruction for his students.

Gerry is survived by his wife, Ann; son, Christopher of Wilmington; sister, Suzanne Sullivan of South Dennis, Massachusetts; nephew, Jeremy Tremblay of South Hadley, Massachusetts; brother, Ralph Tremblay of Danielson, Connecticut; nieces, Joycelin Raho of Litchfield, New Hampshire; Pamela Tremblay of Providence, Rhode Island; and nephew, Alex Tremblay of South Hadley, Massachusetts.

A memorial funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m., Saturday, July 13, at St. Mark Catholic Church, 1011 Eastwood Road, Wilmington, with a reception immediately following at the NC Sorosis Clubhouse, 20 South Cardinal Drive, Wilmington.

As Gerry’s passion was aviation and aviation education, in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: Cape Fear Composite Squadron CAP, Major Jeffrey P. Walker, 7502 9th Ave., North Topsail Beach NC 28460; The EAA Young Eagles at EAA Chapter 297, 91 Aviator Lane, Burgaw, NC 28425; or Cape Fear Flying Club at 1919 Verrazzano Drive, Wilmington, NC 28405.

Fly high, Gerry!

Share online condolences with the family at Atlantic Cremation Society.

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