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Gary B. Bisson, born June 28, 1936 in Gorham, NH, died on May 25, 2017 from complications of pancreatic cancer at Shenandoah Valley Westminster-Canterbury, the lifecare residence in Winchester, VA where he and his wife have lived since 2010. Gary was a graduate of the University of New Hampshire and earned two law degrees from George Washington University, an LLB and an LLM in Government Contracting. Prior to joining Air America, Gary had worked for six years as Assistant General Counsel for the Smithsonian Institution. During his years there, he wrote the legislation which created the Hirshhorn Museum, the Air & Space Museum, and the Portrait Gallery. Early in 1968 (arriving two days after the CAT crash), Gary became Assistant General Counsel for Air America and Air Asia, first in Taipei and then in Bangkok 1973-1974. During those years he was responsible for military and civilian contracting throughout the company’s Asian operations. Travel was constant–Japan, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Hong Kong--in many instances in and out of a destination on the same day. In January 1973, Gary was part of management’s team during FEPA negotiations which took place in Bangkok. The move from Taipei later that year was the result of the formation of an Operations Support Group (OSG) tasked with turning out the lights for AAM’s operations in anticipation of Saigon’s fall. The OSG also included Reese Bradburn, Tom Ingalls, Sig Larson, Frank Nihill and Tom Krohn. Following his work with AAM/AACL, Gary worked for 20 years as an attorney with USAID, in Washington and on assignments in Kenya, Swaziland, and Indonesia. He concluded almost 50 years of service to the USG or its interests with 10 years in private practice advising clients in development law and Federal contracting procedures. For years Gary worked tirelessly on legal issues connected with Federal benefits for AAM retirees, starting with advice to Dave Hickler, Roy Watts, and Jerry Fink, all now deceased, on their court cases. His admiration and appreciation for everyone involved with the company’s operations was a constant. Gary was married for almost 57 years to his wife, Ellen. Survivors also include two sons, Mark and Todd, and a grandson, Dante.
Joseph Franklin Hanley passed away May 20, 2017 in Issaqah, Washington at age 84. Joe served Air America from November 1965 to March 1969 as a F/W pilot in Vientiane, Laos. Widow Muriel Hanley can be contacted through Mike Kandt, the Air America Association chaplain.
reported by Jenifer J. Hanley Foster and Mike Kandt, AAAssn Chaplain
Ronald B. Grant passed away unexpectedly on March 23, 2017 in El Rosario, Baja, Mexico. He was born April 11, 1934 in Los Angeles, CA. He moved to Crestline, CA in 1974 after living in Laos for 10 years while working as an Air America pilot for the CIA. Due to his love of fishing, he spent a great deal of his time in Mulege, Baja, Mexico where he owned a small fishing boat and home. In addition to fishing, he took down crutches, wheelchairs, canes and blankets for the medical clinic in Mulege along with shoes, clothes, food items, tools and small appliances for people in need. He will be greatly missed by the residents of the small Mexican town. He was also a successful California Real Estate broker for over 40 years and worked as a loan officer. Among his other interests, Ron was an airplane flight instructor, a 32nd Degree Mason/Shriner for over 50 years, a former Lion’s Club International State Governor, flew helicopters and planes as a deputy sheriff for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and served in the United States Navy. One of his many prized possessions was the American Flag flown above the United States Congress building commemorating the 200th Anniversary of Flag Day. The Congressional Flag was awarded to him for his service to our country by United States Senator Barry Goldwater. He was a well-known sight in town walking his Miniature Pinscher, Fritz. Ron is survived by his daughter, April Smith, her husband Larry and their two daughters, Erin and Lindsey. A small memorial service was held for both Ron and Fritz in Mulege, Mexico on April 1, 2017. He will be greatly missed.
William "Bill" Long passed away Tuesday, January 17th, 2017.
Donald Malech, 82, of Vacaville passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on Nov. 2, 2016. Born on Dec. 19, 1933 to Walter and Pauline Malech, Don grew up with his older sister, Ethel Rae and his cousin, Pat Fuhrman in Dinuba, CA. The family later moved to San Francisco, a city he always held close to his heart. Don graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School and later went on to study accounting and business administration at San Francisco City College, Golden Gate University and U.C. Berkeley. Following in the footsteps of his father, Don enlisted in the United States Navy in 1950 and served honorably in the Korean War. He began his professional accounting career in 1955 with Soule's Steel Company in San Francisco. In 1966, his oldest high school friend convinced him to move to Bangkok, Thailand to account for an architectural firm. A year later he entered the services of Air America and served as the Manager of Financial Affairs for Northern Thailand. It is there he met his loving wife of 46 years, Pagee. Don, Pagee and their children returned to the States and eventually settled in Vacaville. Don rounded out his career as CFO of ET Mags, Berkeley Pumps and Allen-Simmons eventually retiring in 2005. Don is survived by his wife, Pagee; daughter, Michelle Malech Gaul (Steve) of Vacaville; sons, Paul Malech (Lynda) of Vacaville and Don Anderson (Lea) of Bothell, WA; sister, Ethal Rae Harris (Milo) of Albany, OR and his cherished grandchildren; many nieces and nephews, and his beloved golden retriever.
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