Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My Dad Retires

This past Monday, my dad retired from his job as a pilot for 16 years. However, it was more significant then that because my dad earned his pilot's license about 50 years ago and has been able to fly for many of those years. At 71 he probably will not have many more opportunities to fly. My dad, Joe France, had his final flight on Monday and afterwards the company gave him a party. Over a dozen family members were in attendance, which made the time even more special. Below is the speech given by his boss Zach Riggs. I asked his permission to post his remarks in my blog. Enjoy and Congratulations to my dad!


A short history of Joe France in aviation:
In 1956 during Joe’s junior year of high school, five missionaries were killed in Ecuador in an effort to reach a dangerous tribe, the Waodani. One of those killed, Nate Saint, piloted a Piper PA-14 Family Cruiser for Missionary Aviation Fellowship. Several articles and books were published about this story and Joe’s initial interest came after reading such book.
After graduating high school, Joe attended Westmont College in Santa Barbara for two years. It was here that he met Helen, Joe’s wife of 50 years on August 6th! He transferred to UC Davis and received a B.S. in Agriculture Education in 1961. They then moved to Chicago where he began missionary studies and aviation the following year. And before graduating in 1965, their family expanded to 4 with the births of two daughters, Sheryl and Sandy.
God led him to Wycliffe Bible Translators in 1966 and they joined their aviation wing, JAARS, in the Philippines until 1974. Here he flew and maintained Helio Couriers and served as the chief pilot and program manager. During a year-long furlough in 1970, Joe instructed at Moody Aviation in Elizabethton, TN. And from ‘74-’75 he stepped out of the cockpit for a year in the Philippines to oversee all non-linguistic partners of Wycliffe Bible Translators in Manila, Philippines. It was also in the Philippines that their family expanded to 6 with the births of two sons, Steve and Scott.
From 1977-82, Joe instructed at the JAARS headquarters in Waxhaw, NC. He performed technical evaluations and flight recurrency training for pilots returning oversees. And after this assignment, Joe and company moved across the ocean again, but this time to Indonesia where they spent the next 4 years.
After this adventure, in 1986 Joe and Helen moved back to California and he began working in the Huntington Beach headquarters for Wycliffe Bible Translators as an administrative assistant. He was able to find some time to reenter the cockpit for 6 months in Indonesia during these years, but that just wasn’t enough.
So from present, rewind to March 1994. A new program had been recently developed and a company known as K&K Aircraft had been awarded a contract to release sterile Mediterranean fruit flies all over the LA Basin in turbine Beech-18’s. Another JAARS pilot, Paul Smith, had returned to the states on furlough from Peru several months before. Joe met him through the WBT headquarters and learned he was flying with CMF. Joe contacted Mike Stolzfus to pursue a part-time position and was hired in Mach 1994. He obtained over 4,600 hrs in the Beech 18’s before Dynamic switched to an all King Air fleet. He has flown with Dynamic all over the U.S. and Nicaragua, Panama, Jamaica, Mexico, and Afghanistan.
All in all, Joe has flown in at least eight different countries, over 14,900 hrs, and holds his A&P, CFII, MEI, Ground Instructor, airplane ATP and helicopter Commercial certificates.

I wish I could tell you what Joe prides himself in, but if there’s one thing Joe doesn’t pride himself in it is in pride itself. He is one of the most humble men I know. For instance, I had no clue he had his ATP until I researched his history for this speech! Joe’s humility speaks volumes about his character. He likes to do things that keep the show running smoothly. He likes to do things to the best of his ability. Not because he wants to be likable or recognized, but because he loves to serve.
And Joe does not let his experience create pride in his service. He has been working at Medfly since I was 9 years old, and he has not once done something without first receiving my approval. Not because I know better, but because he is humble. The first thing I think of when I think of Joe is his humility.
The other thing I think of is his pursuit of excellence. Joe wants to do things well. He wants to fly his line well. He wants to clean the flies well. He wants to land well. He wants to abide by the regs well. He wants to serve well. He is in constant pursuit of doing things well, of excellence. Again, he doesn’t do this to be recognized by his fellow co-workers. He does this because God has given him the ability, talent, and desire to serve and he does not want to use it to any potential other than his best.
Joe also has a high regard for safety. Joe has flown in many dangerous environments—one of the most dangerous being the LA Basin. He takes precautions and learns areas as best he can to maintain a high level of safety in all his operations. For instance, I learned more downtown landmarks from Joe than any other captain.
Lastly, I am a firm believer that Joe France is a key factor and constant for Dynamic Aviation to be re-awarded contracts for this operation contract after contract. His humility and integrity create transparency in his interactions with the CDFA. And his thorough communications have created strong ties with them. Several CDFA employees have mentioned that they will miss not having Joe around.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

July 4th Celebration 2010

We had a busy but fun 4th of July celebration. We started off with our mobile home's annual flag ceremony. This is the second year that Jon has been asked to participate. He helped change the flags and then read a statement about the widow who had donated the flag that draped her husband's coffin last year when he died. He was a veteran and so this was a very meaningful gift to our park. After saying the pledge together with others who were gathered, we sang the national anthem. Then we headed home to get ready for church while others took park in the bike parade around the park.

After church we had a restful afternoon before heading back to church for our annual 4th of July BBQ for the 1st CEB's (our adopted Marines). Jon, Joshua and I enjoyed the fabulous food and met some new friends. Then we had a great spot to watch the fireworks put on by the city of San Clemente from the pier.

Monday, Jon and I had the day off, but Joshua was signed up for a basketball camp, so we dropped him off at 9:00 and headed to the Dana Point harbor to walk, talk and enjoy brunch. After a fabulous breakfast, we did some errands and went home to work (me) and nap (Jon). We returned a little early to pick up Joshua from camp and got to watch him putting some of his new skills to practice. He is loving basketball and getting some great exercise at the same time.

I started my new job at our church this week. I am now the Director of Missional Participation. I will work 30 hours a week and have flexible hours, which will work much better for me as a mom. Today I trained our new receptionist and will be helping her out throughout the week, but I meet with the mission elders tomorrow night, so am off and running with my new job. Some mission partners from the Czech Republic are visiting this coming weekend, so plenty of folks to meet and reconnect with. It is very helpful that I was the Chair of the Mission Committee for two years from July 2007 - June 2009.

In case I don't post for a while, it may be because our family is headed to Maui next Thursday for a week. We are celebrating my parents' 50th anniversay. Should be awesome and I'll post pictures as soon as I can. Of course, if you are on Facebook, you'll probably see pictures there first.


Monday, June 14, 2010

18 Years Together

Yesterday, June 13, Jon and I celebrated 18 years together. We worshipped with our church family at San Clemente Presbyterian Church and then enjoyed watching 16 of the 3rd and 4th graders at our church participate in the first ever Bible Bee. The kids did so well that the teachers/judges ran out of questions with seven children still standing (Joshua was one of those). In the end all seven got some great prizes, including Joshua who earned a MP4 player. Very cool.

Then we were off to our nephew Evan's tenth birthday party in Escondido. We had arranged to leave Joshua there and miss the party ourselves so we could have our own anniversary celebration. We enjoyed a short visit to the Wild Animal Park and then a delicious dinner at the Macaroni Grill. We got back to Steve and Sandi's house in time for cake and ice cream before heading home. My brother-in-law Sonny took this amazing picture of us while we were there. I think his camera is magic and makes people look better than we do in person. :)

All in all, a great way to celebrate 18 years of marriage.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Grandpa Baker Goes Home

Jon's Grandpa Baker passed away last Thursday morning. Here is what his daughter Ruth Lauer wrote about his final hours.

Thursday (June 3), at 2:45 am, the telephone woke us [Ruth's husband is Jim] from a sound sleep. It was the rehab center saying that Dad was failing quickly and had asked that they call his children. My sister Donna [Jon's mom], who lives in Crossville, TN, was here [Nashville] with us so, by 3:15, the three of us were by his side. We had a precious six hours with Dad, listening to his favorite hymns on CD and expressing our love for him. At 9:03 am, he closed his eyes and peacefully took his last breath. During the 2 ½ weeks at the rehab center, Dad won the hearts of the staff with his sweet attitude and gratefulness for the tender loving care he received from them. Several mentioned to us that Dad had asked if they would be in heaven with him. After hearing that Dad had died, an aid told me that she just wanted to hide out somewhere and cry a little while. Since Dad’s condition required skilled nursing, we are so very thankful that he could spend his last days in such a beautiful & caring atmosphere, which was more like a home than a hospital.

The service will be held Wednesday evening in Nashville. The three of us were there in December to celebrate Grandpa Baker's 100th birthday, but Jon had the flue and spent most of the visit in bed in the hotel room. Joshua does not have school this coming Friday, due to teacher furlough days, and Jon had already planned to take that day off to be with him, so we decided that it probably wouldn't hurt Joshua to miss two days of school, here at the end of the year. Jon and Joshua will fly out early Wednesday morning for Nashville and will stay through Saturday with Jon's folks in Crossville, a couple hours east of Nashville. Should be a great father-son trip along with some quality time with family.


Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

What a great day. We relaxed this morning and then headed to Seaport Village in San Diego for lunch and an afternoon of walking and enjoying the fabulous weather. Our restaurant was right next to the walkway that overlooks the harbor, so I could people-watch while Jon sail boat-watched. Joshua made origami with his cloth napkin.

Then we did some walking of our own and watched the many entertainers around the village. There were mimes, rock balancers, musicians, artists and even a sword swallower. We enjoyed some fun desserts -- frozen banana, carmel apple, candy -- and just enjoyed being together.

Then it was time to take Jon to "his" ship. In his 29 years of being a Marine he has never spent a night on a Naval ship until now. He spent last week on the USS Bonhomme Richard for a Marine/Naval Exercise and he has one more week to go.

It was so cool to get a personal tour of a Naval Ship. It is huge and we walked all over it. I couldn't get over the work-out from just going up and down all those stairs getting from one deck to the next. We checked out Jon's room, which he shares with three other Marine officers; the Ward Room, where the officers eat; the Gym, the Flight Deck, the Well Deck and the Cat Walk. I've posted a bunch of pictures and you'll have to figure out which ones are which. Enjoy!


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend 2010

Jon, Joshua and I are enjoying the Memorial Day Weekend in San Diego. Jon was on a ship for a military exercise all last week and has to re-board Monday night. So we all came south for the long weekend and are staying in a Navy Inn at USMC/Navy Base Miramar (former home of Top Gun).

Yesterday we started a game of Euro-rails -- a fun board game that takes many hours. Took a break around noon and explored the huge PX on base. Then it was off to my brother Steve's home to celebrate my niece Elena's 8th grade graduation. We had a great time, enjoying the food and good conversation. Since we had a short drive after the party, we stayed till after 9:30 pm. Woo Hoo! Aren't we the party animals. :)

Today we finished our game of Euro-rails. Thanks to a move by Joshua, who kept Jon from winning, I pulled off the win. After Jon finishes a nap, Joshua gets through more chapters in his book and I get my Facebook and blog posts updated, then I think we'll be off to the San Diego Zoo. Our annual passes expire tomorrow, so this is our last chance to get in for "free."

Tomorrow we'll head back to downtown and see some sights before taking Jon back to his ship for another week at sea.

Being on a military base and in a county that is so full of military members (active and retired) it is easy to remember who we are honoring this weekend. I am so grateful that Jon has survived nearly 10 years of activation by the Marine Corps. God has been very good to us.


Sunday, May 02, 2010

Busy May 1st

Saturday, May 1st was a busy day for the Morans. Joshua and I were up early so we could get ready for the final mile of the Kids Run the Orange County Marathon. Joshua's age group ran at 9:40 am, but since our school has had a running club for the last 13 weeks and the kids have run 2 miles/week, we all met a the school at 7:30 am for bagels and fruit before carpooling to the Orange County Fairgrounds.

It was cray with hundreds of kids ranging in age from 6 to 13 years old and all of their parents and some teachers. The race was well organized and all the kids were able to get their goodie bags and T-shirts. I was going to run the race with Joshua and the other 10-year olds, but after racing around to get the 11-year olds to the starting track and then doing the same thing for the 9-year olds, I decided to stand on the side lines, take pictures and cheer.

Joshua seemed a bit stressed before it started, but I encouraged him to just do his best. He told me later that he was able to run the entire mile except for a "30 second interval." :) He was tired afterwards but proud of his accomplishment.

Jon was unable to watch the race because he is still dealing with the removal of a palm tree at our house in Orange, which we think is causing problems with the sewer drain. But Jon was able to break away and meet us at our next event.

The FSEA (Future Scientists and Engineers of America) Rocket Competition is an event I used to coordinate back when I worked for FSEA, but now they are part of the Discovery Science Center and so it has grown to something much bigger than I could have ever imagined. The Boeing Company is one of the main sponsors and they host the event on a field in front of one of their Huntington Beach facilities.

It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed seeing a few old friends so it didn't matter that neither of the parachutes on Jon's or Joshua's rockets opened, so they didn't have a shot at winning a prize. We enjoyed watching the hundred of other rockets launched into the blue sky on a perfect afternoon in Southern California.

Unfortunately, although I made sure Joshua was drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated, I managed not to do the same thing for myself. I ended up with a horrible headache by the time we got home and stomach cramps throughout the night. I went to bed at 7:00 pm and slept fitfully through the night but was feeling better by the time we left for church this morning. I feel fine now, but learned an important lesson -- drink lots of water when you are out in the sun. I did use plenty of sun screen, so hopefully no other sun damage was done.

Back to school and work tomorrow, but we all enjoyed a great weekend.