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Published: Saturday, 3/26/2005

Corporate pilot loved his career in the air

FINDLAY - Jerome Patrick Kriegel, a pilot whose love of flying kept him in the air until the week he died, died Tuesday in the Blanchard Valley Regional Health Center in Findlay. He was 57.

Mr. Kriegel died of a heart attack, family members said.

Born in Bradford, Penn., Mr. Kriegel graduated from Bradford Central Christian High School and then attended the University of Dayton, where he received a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1969.

But rather than pursue a career in business, Mr. Kriegel enlisted in the U.S. Navy during the middle of the Vietnam War. The military would lead him to his life's passion: flying.

"That's when he started flying. They took him up in an airplane, and he never looked back," said his wife, Francene Kriegel. "He loved it so much."

Mr. Kriegel learned to fly at the Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida, and later was stationed in San Diego and Corpus Christi, Texas, serving both as a flight trainer and submarine spotter on two separate aircraft carriers: the USS Ticonderoga and the USS Kitty Hawk.

In 1978, Mr. Kriegel left the Navy as a lieutenant and returned to Ohio.

He stuck with the first job he found, as a corporate pilot for Marathon Oil Co. in Findlay, where he operated Cessna Citations, Lockheed Martin Jetstars, and British Aerospace Hawkers - a job he held until the day he died.

In total, Mr. Kriegel flew 11,000 hours in his lifetime, and would often proudly show his family the planes he flew.

"He used to take all of us to the airport all the time to see the planes; he always warned us about candy in the backseat," his daughter, Alison, said.

"He loved it so much he never retired."

Mr. Kriegel was a member of St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Findlay.

Surviving are his wife, Francene, and daughter, Alison.

Visitation will be after 2 p.m. Monday at the Coldren-Crates Funeral Home, Findlay. Services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church.

The family suggests tributes to the St. Michael Building Fund or the University of Notre Dame Development Department, in care of Carol Hennion.

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