Alexander Oranski passed away Dec. 2, 2005 at his home.
For the last 16 years, Al called Orcas Island home. He was born on Oct. 15, 1934 in Montreal, Quebec, where he was also raised, and where his love for aviation began. His first solo flight was at the age of 16. Later, in pursuit of this love, he joined the US Air Force. It was while he was in the Air Force that he received his private pilot’s license through a private school on base. His job classification in the Air Force was that of a boom operator on refueling tankers. After his discharge in 1959, he moved to California, where he became a flight instructor and earned the necessary ratings that led him to his first job as a commercial pilot with Blatz Airline. It was there also that he met Beverly, the love of his life.
In 1962, he was hired by Flying Tigers Airline, which was started by some original Chennault Flying Tigers of WWII. He flew for them until he was furloughed in early 1963. That year was a big year for Al. It was in 1963 that he very proudly become a U.S. citizen as well as a husband to Beverly. In May 1964 he moved his new family to San Diego and began a life long-career with PSA until 1988, when it was bought by US Air. He retired from US Air in November 1993.
In the interim he raised a family and enjoyed riding horses, motorcycles in the desert, sailing and water skiing in the bay and bass fishing in the lakes. Al was born again in February 1974. His thirst for the things of the Lord grew on a daily basis and he never missed a chance to evangelize.
Retirement was short-lived, as he could not stay away from flying the big guys. He picked up a job with Orcas Bay, flying the Vancouver Grizzlies to and from their games. Later, he received an offer he couldn’t refuse and began flying a 727 in and around the Middle East. He was based in Saudi Arabia for a little over three years, coming home every two to three months. Even though he could not bring a Bible into the country, he couldn’t keep himself from sharing Jesus. Of course, 9/11 brought him home for good.
With all this flying going on, Al and Beverly still managed to cruise the Pacific Northwest and points beyond in their boat. He also found time to build walls, plant trees and put up fences. He loved working in the yard with Beverly by his side. He also found time for an occasional game of golf. However, this was still not enough to keep him down and in retirement. In 2003 he went to trucking school and began a whole new career driving 18 wheelers. This new career ended only with his illness in May 2005.
He went home to be with his beloved Lord and Savior Dec 2, 2005. He is survived by Beverly, his wife of 42 years; his sons Michael Oranski of Charlotte, North Carolina and William Welch of Chula Vista, Calif; his daughters Debbie Thompson and Cindy La Fuze, both of Ramona, Calif.; 12 grandchildren, five great grandchildren, an older brother, Leo Oranski of Bellingham; and a younger sister, Christine Green, of Poway, Calif.
On Dec. 7, graveside services were held at Woodlawn Cemetery. They were followed by a celebration of his life at the Orcas Island Community Church, where he and Beverly worshipped for many years. Memorials may be made to the Community Church.