Donald Stuber of Shakopee, who in 1946 began working at what is now Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie, could recall when it was only a rough airstrip set in asparagus fields.
Fuel was dispensed from 55-gallon drums; there was an old wooden hangar, and the office was a small trailer.
Stuber, who one writer called a pioneer in Minnesota aviation and co-owned American Aviation, died July 3 in Shakopee. He was 89.
Stuber gambled correctly that general aviation would grow and become big business. He and a partner bought a maintenance and equipment sales firm in 1951. Stuber is also credited with helping to grow the air field into a busy reliever airport.
In 1969, Stuber's brother, John, joined him in the business. (John had managed the original American Aviation Co. in the 1940s and is credited with giving the airport its name.)
Stuber was especially known for introducing radios to pilots of light, private planes, said Sherman Booen of Richfield, the former publisher of the magazine "Minnesota Flyer."
Around 1950, "he was probably the only one in the Midwest to carry and install radios" that were especially made for light planes, said Booen.
Booen said Stuber was a fair businessman who gave generously of his time to aviators in teaching them about the use of radio.
"He was an icon in that business," said Booen.
Stuber's daughter, Carol Sebald of Jordan, who helped her dad at the airport in summers and after high school, said he "was as laid back and as good-hearted as they come. In the early days, when money was tight, he would not draw a salary so the guys would get paid."
He loved a good prank, "and was quick with one-liners" even after Alzheimer's disease began to cloud his mind, said his daughter.
The Stubers sold American Aviation in 1989. After their retirement, a runway at Flying Cloud was named for them.
Stuber served in the Army during World War II.
His wife, Dorothy, died in 2000. His infant daughter, Donna Jean, died in 1945.
In addition to Sebald, he is survived by sons Donald of Aspen, Colo., and Mike of Shakopee; brothers Robert of LaCrosse, Wis.; John of Burnsville and George of Brownsville, Minn.; sisters Mary Jane Fowler of LaCrosse, Wis., and Betty Lynch of Lincoln, Neb.; four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Mass of Christian burial will be held at 11 a.m. today at St. Mary's Catholic Church, Shakopee, with visitation at 10 a.m. at the church.
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