Traverse City Record-Eagle


May 23, 2010

John Henry Langschwager

SUTTONS BAY — John Henry Langschwager, 88, of Suttons Bay, passed away peacefully, surrounded by family on Saturday, May 8, 2010, at Munson Medical Center. He was born June 10, 1921, in Saginaw, to the late Frederick P. and Petronella (Simon) Langschwager.

While attending Saginaw High School, John received his pilot's license. He graduated in 1939.

Shortly thereafter, he received his commercial-instructor Aviation Rating Certificate and served as a flight instructor with the CAA War Training Service in conjunction with Minot Flying Service in Minot, N.D., teaching V-5 Navy Cadets to fly N3N's. John became recognized as a master of the techniques of pilotage, engineering and navigation, and a tough trainer.

Following this phase of military service, John proudly served our country as a Sergeant in the U.S. Army. While on Luzon in the Philippines, he earned the Philippine Liberation Bronze Battle Star and Asiatic Pacific Theater Bronze Battle Star.

John saved a Japanese man's life by giving him his C-rations. Ever since saving his life, the man has felt indebted, and John's family has received Christmas gifts from him.

John was also stationed in Japan as part of the occupation force. He flew a Japanese Zero for entertainment until 'grounded'; under the surrender terms all propellers were supposed to have been removed prior to our troops landing.

After his honorable discharge in 1946, John returned to Saginaw to establish Sky Haven Airport with friend and fellow flight instructor, John P. Hooper. This partnership was operated on 86 acres of farm land on N. Michigan Road. The airport offered flight and ground instructions and airplane rides in addition to fuel, servicing and tie downs. The partnership between Langschwager and Hooper also had a dealership with Republic Seabee. These seaplanes, or amphibians, were demonstrated on flights down the Saginaw River and on Saginaw Bay.

It was at Sky Haven Airport that John was introduced to Geraldine 'Gere' Schultz. Her father, Jacob Schultz, brought her to the airport for a scenic airplane ride over Saginaw Bay. John married Gere on May 1, 1948, at Holy Family Catholic Church in Saginaw. They shared almost 60 loving years together.

In 1953 the aviation facility was closed, selling 11 aircraft to a flight school in Boise, Idaho. Subsequently, John joined the family road-building business, Saginaw Core Sand Company, which grew to include Carrollton Concrete Mix and Carrollton Paving Company. The airport was then developed into Skyway Plaza, a shopping center, and the building of approximately 400 dwellings in Skyhaven subdivision.

After summering in Suttons Bay for many years, John and Gere decided in 1994 to make their family cottage a permanent home in the Suttons Bay community. John especially loved his little piece of "heaven" on the bay. He commented daily on his beautiful view while enjoying the wildlife and scenery he revered and held so dear, including the sun rises and moon rises all through the year.

John was an avid sportsman. He enjoyed hunting, fishing and mushrooming, and was always accompanied enthusiastically by his wife, Gere. They also traveled to Cuba, the Holy Land and Alaska.

John was a lifetime member of the Elks Lodge, personally receiving a 65-year member pin at the members' recognition dinner in April 2010. He was also a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Eagletown American Legion Post 120, Operating Engineers' Local 324, St. Michael's Catholic Church, the Honest John Club, Saginaw Country Club and the Germania Club.

Surviving John are his daughters, Christine A. Langschwager and Carla (Larry) Linvill, both of Traverse City; grandchildren, Leslie (Mike) Rogers of Chicago, Stuart A. Linvill of Traverse City and Robert D. Higgins III of Saginaw; nieces and nephews, including dear nephew, Hans R. Langschwager of Bridgeport; special cousins, Dr. Jack and Delores Mobley of Suttons Bay; some old flight instructors, Lee Brand, Chuck Westlie, Ken Bischke and John Hooper; and many friends.

John was preceded in death by his wife, Geraldine E. (Schultz) Langschwager; daughter, Cindy Kay; and brother, Frederick P. Langschwager Jr.

Mass for John will take place at St. Michael's Catholic Church in Suttons Bay on Saturday, May 29, 2010, at 11 a.m. The Rev. James Doherty will serve as celebrant. Inurnment will take place at Oakwood Mausoleum in Saginaw at a later date.

Memorial contributions may be directed to the new Veterans Memorial site at Veterans Memorial Committee in Leelanau County, "Leelanau County Treasurer", 8527 E. Government Center Dr., Suite 104, Suttons Bay, MI 49682. "In memory of John Langschwager"; or St. Michael's Catholic Church, PO Box 9, Suttons Bay, MI 49682.

John was a kind and generous man of honor and integrity and will be lovingly missed.

The family is grateful for John's many exceptional doctors, nurses, aides and caregivers, and to the Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home in Traverse City for arrangements.

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