Midthun, Norman Edward A life-long aviator, Norm made his final take off at age 96; July 24th, 2021. He was preceded in death by his parents Pauline Marie (Leknes) and Edward Maynard Midthun, stepmother Maybelle Midthun and brothers Palmer and Eddie Midthun. Norm was born in Minneapolis in 1924; his mother died following his brother's birth 18 months later. In his early years he lived in Bricelyn, MN; he then moved back to northeast Minneapolis. He started working in a meat market at age twelve - during the Great Depression - learning the value of work and saving money. He was the youngest journeyman meat cutter in Minneapolis at age 15. He saved to buy a prized Schwinn bike that he rode to school and work in all seasons; it now resides in the MN Historical Society. His grandparents on both sides were born in Norway and his high school Norwegian teacher, Ben Eggen, kept him informed of what was happening in Norway during the initial stages of WWII. He graduated from Roosevelt High School at age 17 and tried to enlist in the US Navy Airforce but was too young. Instead he went to join the Norwegian Air Force at Little Norway outside of Toronto, Canada. As this was all in the Norwegian language, and he spoke only a little; he wasn't expected to succeed., Through tremendous effort he completed basic training and flight school; he became the first American to earn Norwegian wings. He flew Mosquitos on post-bombing photo-reconnaissance missions. While based in Scotland, he flew PBY float planes delivering saboteurs and supplies into coastal sites of occupied Norway. Bernt Balchen was his commanding officer and had great influence on the young aviator. Later, Norm recounted his highest honor to be chosen as Crown Prince Olaf's personal pilot during a post-war tour of Norway to build morale and assess damages - the only part of the war effort he would ever discuss in detail. Stateside in late 1945, he was hired by Northwest Airlines as a pilot, only to be laid off the following day. He was employed a short time later by NWA, initially to drive the mail truck, and later in reservations and as a steward. While attending St. Olaf College, NWA called him back into the cockpit, and he said that the only reason he graduated, was because he turned in term papers from Tokyo. Jean Roslyn Johnson was a Carleton College student when she strayed on a walk to St. Olaf where she met Norm; he identified himself as Chairman of the Welcoming Committee - this was a welcome that would last a lifetime, as they married 6 years later. Norm flew for nearly forty years with NWA; he was extremely loyal to the airline and its President, Donald Nyrop. He amassed 3 years of total flying time, spent 25 years as a flight instructor, and finished his career as #1 pilot and 747 Captain. Norm's joy was his family. His proudest moments were as husband of Jean, and father to their four children and grandfather to eight. He and Jean lived for many years in Minneapolis by Lake Nokomis, and later in Deephaven, on Carson Bay of Lake Minnetonka, and finally at the Waters in Excelsior. He loved all ice cream (especially chocolate malts he made for the kids), corn on the cob with lots of butter, neighborhood volleyball, summer days at the family cabin on Lake Sylvia, following the market, playing bridge and Cottagewood tennis, and being a grand spectator for sports and concerts. He loved being a member of the Norwegian Club, Torske Klubben. He loved dogs Ole, Sadie, Rozzy and Ellie and, too often, fed them under the table. Norm's ways: To know your heading, altitude, and airspeed at all times; to be humble and always strive for excellence; to pray; to be frugal to yourself and lavish those you love; to admire your children and their children for their every breath; to be a gracious neighbor; to drive a car with a little rust gets you there just as well; to know that dogs are people too. He Is survived by his partner of 67 years, Jean; sons Steve (Mary), David (Vivien) and Tom (Julie) Midthun; daughter Ann (Peter) Baskin; and grandchildren Jens, Sonja, Lars, Tor, Ted, and Will Midthun, and Erik (Shelley) and Hanna Baskin; cousin Marilyn Olden Hansen; Sister-in-law Vivian Midthun; nephews Paul Midthun and Peter Midthun and nieces Pam (Denny) Harris and Jill (Christopher Carman) Midthun. A memorial service is Saturday August 14th, 11 AM, Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church, 301 County Rd 19, Excelsior, MN. Please join the family for a celebration and refreshments following at Cast and Cru Restaurant at the Old Log Theatre, 5185 Meadville St, Excelsior, MN. Memorials are preferred to the Dr. Harold Ditmanson endowment fund, St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN, and Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church.
Norman Edward Midthun
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