Richard Johnson Rohn, Sr.
Richard Johnson “Dick” Rohn, Sr., retired Chief Pilot for U.S. Silica in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., made his final take-off and soared into the heavens on Wednesday, November 10, 2021 at home under out-patient care of Hospice of the Panhandle. Rohn is survived by his wife of 63 years, Roberta “Bobbie” Rohn, at their “Earth Cookie Farm” in New Hope, just east of Berkeley Springs. They were married on March 1, 1958 in Amityville, Pa. He’s also survived by his son Richard J. “Rick” Rohn, Jr. and wife Stacie of Martinsburg, W.Va., his beloved granddaughter Rebecca of Morgantown, W.Va., his younger sister Linda of Auburn, Washington as well as other relatives on both the East and West Coasts.
Rohn was born on June 13, 1938 in Pottstown, Pa., the son of Harold & Millicent Rohn, and graduated from Pottstown High School in 1956. He developed a keen interest in aviation at a young age, taking flying lessons at age 15 and obtaining his private pilot’s license at age 16. He enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1956 at the age of 18, and upon graduation from high school, shipped-out for Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.
His military service took him to the former Ramey Air Force Base in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico and finally on to Andrews Air Force Base outside of Washington, D.C. He was honorably discharged from the USAF Reserves in August of 1962, having spent most of his service as a Crew Chief on C-54 aircraft (military variant of the popular Douglas DC-4 airliner) in support of high-altitude U2 reconnaissance missions. His military service on C-54’s led to a distinguished commercial aviation career from the mid-1960’s through his retirement in the mid 2000’s, beginning at Basco Flying Service in Pottstown, Pa., where he had completed his initial flight instruction in high school, then on to Koppers Corporation in Baltimore, Md., and finally at Pennsylvania Glass Sand /U.S. Silica in Berkeley Springs, W.Va. in 1973. He flew a wide variety of aircraft from the two-seat 7AC Aeronca (the first and last plane he ever flew), to the venerable DC-3 Gooney Bird, to the Beech King Air C90 and 1121 Jet Commander (both at Pennsylvania Glass Sand /U.S. Silica). His flight record was spotless, having flown hundreds of passengers countless thousands of miles safely over his 40+ year career.
He was a longtime member of the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA) and the Baltimore and Hagerstown, Md. hangars of The Quiet Birdmen. Rohn’s interests and skills extended well-beyond flying. An accomplished yachtsman, he, his wife, and son regularly sailed the Magothy River and Chesapeake Bay during their time in Lake Shore, Md. while flying for Koppers Corporation out of Friendship International Airport (now BWI) from 1968 to 1973. After moving to West Virginia in 1973, Rohn traded his sailboat for a whitewater kayak, and with son Rick, regularly paddled the Cacapon, Shenandoah, Cheat and Youghiogheny Rivers with the Mason-Dixon Canoe Cruisers based in Hagerstown, Md. He was also an avid downhill skier, and volunteered as a Mountain Host at the newly-opened Whitetail Ski Resort in Mercersburg, Pa. in 1990, and then as a volunteer member of the Whitetail Ski Patrol until his retirement in the mid 2000’s. His favorite outdoor accomplishment though was joining his lifelong friend Bob Keay to hike the Pennsylvania-to-Maine section of the Appalachian Trail when Keay hiked the entire length of the Trail in the mid-1980’s. Lastly, he’ll always be remembered for his love of cars and motorcycles, from the 1954 red Ford convertible of his youth, to the Triumph, Yamaha, and Harley Davidson motorcycles he owned throughout his life, to most-recently, his fully-electric 2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV. In the local Berkeley Springs/Morgan County community, Rohn was an active member of the Berkeley Springs Lions Club and participated in/assisted with numerous Apple Butter Festivals. In his retirement years, he could also be counted-on for good conversation and community discussions with his beloved coffee buddies every morning at Fairfax Coffee Shop in downtown Berkeley Springs.
Cremation arrangements were through Helsley-Johnson Funeral Home in Berkeley Springs. Plans are currently underway for a “Celebration of Life” for this wonderful aviator and Renaissance Man on Sunday, December 5, 2021 at 2 p.m. at The Country Inn in downtown Berkeley Springs. Memorial contributions may be made to the Boys & Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle c/o Morgan County Club, P.O. Box 1184, Martinsburg, WV 25402, and the Humane Society of Morgan County, 5366 Valley Road, Berkeley Springs, WV 25411-4625.