Category Archives: Aging

Mea Culpa: Seeing Clearly

Okay, I was wrong this time, really wrong. Big time! I’ll admit it. Hear that, my lovely wife? Mea Culpa!

The ever diligent and loving Oma Trudy supervising  grandson Graham while he feeds a bottle calf

For sometime Trudy and I had disagreed on the color of my hair. We’ve even argued in the sort of emotionless way older couples argue. You see, I’ve always had light brown/blonde hair, but in recent years she’s claimed it had all turned gray. Nonplussed and unconvinced by her assertions, I would carefully steal into the bathroom and examine my hair in the mirror, inspecting it as if  examining the mysteries of the Rosetta Stone. I clearly saw blonde locks, perhaps mixed with a few gray hairs. Didn’t gray hair portend frailty, senility, and lack of relevancy? But I had no doubt whatsoever as to my hair colors- brown and blonde. My eyes wouldn’t deceive me.

To settle our long standing difference of opinion once for for all, I asked my hair cutter to decide this troublesome issue. Jennifer, who just happens to also cut Trudy’s hair, heard my lament and agreed to my request.

Well, Jennifer studied my hair slowly and methodically. She poked around on my head, moving aside shocks of hair as if leafy branches obscuring a bird’s nest. I beamed in anticipation, knowing I was about to hear unequivocal support for my blonde hair. I could soon boast a rare win over my always persuasive attorney wife. It was then the roof fell in. Jennifer calmly announced, “Your hair is gray.”

“Gray? You don’t see the blonde?”

“Nope.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yep”

“Not even blonde streaks?”

“Well, it all looks gray to me, but you do have lots of it.” I suppose with that comment Jennifer tried to lessen the heavy blow by pointing out that at least I hadn’t gone bald. At least not yet. Some solace that.

Gray! I was at that very moment staring into the mirror in front of her barber’s chair. I could clearly see  blonde amidst some dismal, dreary gray hair. My spirits sank. How can this be?

But then like the Phoenix of legend my defenses rallied and my resistance grew (some might call it rationalization and denial). Something funny was going on here. Thoughts of an estrogen conspiracy involving Trudy and Jennifer welled up within me. Perhaps Jennifer was part of some evil plot hatched by Trudy to put me in “the home.” Aha! There’s goes your tip Jen! What gives here anyway? Are you blind women?

Resolution to my existential dilemma came not long after. You see, my vision had worsened. Also glare made nighttime driving difficult. For this I sought the attention of my excellent eye doctor, Dr. Ann Plenneke. Several weeks later I underwent extraction of cataracts and lens replacements.

Alas, overnight my hair turned gray. Gray!!! Who would’ve thought the yellow tone to my hair had resulted from my own yellowed lenses? Mea Culpa, Dear wife, I was wrong, you were right. Tonight I’ll do the dishes.

I’ll admit this aging thing can be a bit tricky and is become increasingly challenging to negotiate. How does one do it gracefully? Now if a guy can’t believe what he sees, what’s he to believe?  Can I really trust my vision seen through new, store bought lenses that were almost certainly provided by the lowest bidder? What about my hearing that isn’t all that great either? Does this mean I shouldn’t believe anything I hear either? Ah, the nagging dilemmas that accompany an aging body.

“Well dogs if you won’t loan me your keen sense sense of hearing, then how about your outstanding sense of smell?”

Is it my loss of self-confidence in my own perceptions or merely an awareness that as I age my chances of being correct lessen? This is but one of many conundrums I’ve discovered with getting older. As a result I’ve learned to admit my mistakes and apologize quicker. I’ve found apologies now come with less difficulty, perhaps because I’ve become habituated to giving them.

On a more positive note, my rich stock of lifelong, accumulated experiences helps to lesson my sensory losses. My experiences place everyday challenges into greater perspective and usually diminishes their overall negative impact. This proves an advantage for me and i provides for greater emotional equanimity. Isn’t there something about wisdom growing with age? I sure hope so.

Perception, however, sadly slacks off. Everything diminishes in acuity. You name it- vision, hearing, smell, sensation. Sayanara, adios, auf wiedersehen! Why’s it wasted on my dogs who can hear a truck cross the cattle guard from half a mile away? Why’s their sense of smell denied to this human septuagenarian?

Hope my kids don’t read this. Admitting to flagging perceptual abilities could be a huge mistake. Think about it. My children, Andy and Katie, just wouldn’t get it. Think I’ll hide the car keys before their next visit.

“Bella, don’t worry. We’ll hide the truck keys before the kids come.” Note me wearing glasses before the cataract surgery, something I no longer have to do. Bella’s vision however has remained remarkably good.

 

 

 

Buddy’s Retirement- April 20, 2018

Buddy as a younger dog

It was inevitable, I suppose. Retirement is part of life isn’t it, that is if we live long enough. Buddy about whom you’ve heard much lately (Buddy- The Slacker) retired from his life’s work today. His retirement from herding came suddenly or at least it surprised me.

On request Buddy declined to jump out of the bed of the pickup to help herd the mama cow about which I recently wrote (A Sad Day On The Ranch). This job in the past would have been an easy one for Buddy, merely moving one cow through a couple of gates and into an adjoining pasture where the remainder of the herd grazed.

When I called to Buddy, he merely stared back at me. Has he suddenly gone deaf? What’s wrong with that dog!

After a few moments of reflection on the statue-like, immobile Buddy, I thought perhaps his bad back might be hurting him or else he had judged after twelve and a half years he’d accomplished his limit of herding cattle. Nevertheless, pushing one cow through a couple of gates and into another pasture has previously hardly been work for our Buddy who has lived to herd. But I know twelve and a half years makes for an old dog, especially for a Border collie.

He’s been the best herder I’ve ever had on the ranch. His exploits are legion, as I tried to indicate in the Slacker piece, his first herding experience. Nevertheless, lately he has been less invested and less enthusiastic about this effort. I maintain that in his place today he urged the younger Bella to help me. Surprisingly Bella did a fairly good job but not up to the standards set earlier by Buddy.

Buddy on left and Bella on right. Photo by Ramsey

Buddy has lately spent more time napping on one of his four beds (yes, can you believe it- four beds) that are scattered strategically around our house. He never has to take more than a few steps to find a doggie bed. If a bed is not immediately available, a low chair will do just fine.

While he still enjoys riding around in the pickup, he now seems anxious to return to the house and resume his doggie slumbers.

Perhaps his life’s arc from superb and indefatigable herding dog to his current “just don’t bother me” attitude is an expected part of normal aging thatis sure to affect us all. I’ll admit since retiring, I enjoy naps more.

Years ago when I asked my grandmother Hutton when she was quite elderly what it was like to get old, she replied, “Tom, you just slow up.” This observation must be as true for Border collies as it is for humans.

I hope Buddy reneges on his retirement for at least a brief period of time. What gives me hope is that Francisco, our ranch hand of seventy-five years old has retired at least five times. Each time after his announced retirement he came back to the ranch after having become thoroughly bored with watching TV and missing “his” ranch.

The animals, the beauty of nature, and the opportunity to make the ranch better proves for Francisco an incredibly strong draw. Might Buddy one day feel a spurt of new resolve along with a strong desire to herd- just one more cow? Time will tell.

By the way, what does one give a Border collie as a retirement gift? He has no use for a watch. Your thoughts?

Buddy, the retiree, taking one of his frequent naps

The Tragic Irony of Roger Bannister’s Death

Roger Bannister

Last month I posted a piece on the death of the great Sir Roger Bannister. I also shared some personal observations regarding how his example affected my life. His athletic accomplishments and lifelong efforts to cure chronic neurological diseases ended with the tragic irony of his own death due to one of those, Parkinson’s disease.

In his youth he broke the four minute mile- a feat previously thought impossible. Bannister had great flexibility of his arms and legs, possessed a long and graceful stride, and demonstrated amazing endurance. He also displayed profound determination. Despite these youthful gifts he ultimately died of a disease that stiffens the muscles, reduces the speed of movement, creates noxious tremor, and gives rise to balance and walking problems. Such a sad travesty to bear for a world class athlete.

The irony is doubly so when we consider how he spent his professional lifetime researching, writing, and lecturing on the nature of neurological disorders, among which was Parkinson’s disease.

Knowledge that Bannister suffered Parkinson’s disease came to me only after posting my earlier piece. This added dimension on his death required this additional retrospective.

One suspects Bannister recognized early on that he suffered Parkinson’s disease. Whether it began with the telltale slow hand tremor, lack of arm swing when walking, or some other feature of Parkinson’s disease, we may never know. Familiar as he was with the disorder, he almost certainly recognized not only what was insidiously happening to him, but also what was sure to come.

Sketch of a man with PD with the typical features

None of us can predict the future. Because of this we need live each day to its fullest, as we never know whether a serious disease or even death may overtake us and minimize or negate our previous skills.

Sir Roger we bid you a fond adieu for the way you lived your life, for your athletic prowess that showed us to never accept current accepted limitations, and for the grace with which you dealt with your terminal illness.

Depictions at the various stages of life

 

Of Buddy and Back Injuries

I don’t know if my absence from the blog has been noticed, but ‘I’ve been MIA for awhile, suffering from a slipped disc. Besides sapping any creativity, it is darned hard to write when lying on your belly in bed.

The offending item that resulted in my most recent aggravation of my back injury

My infirmity did cause me to think back 10 years when I first injured my back. For the six weeks during my recovery, my young Border collie, Buddy, stayed as if glued to my side. I knew he would have preferred to be out on the ranch herding or exploring, but stay with me he did. Because of his loyalty and devotion, his name became uncannily appropriate.

Buddy has of course, like me, aged in the last 10 years. He injured his own back years ago while jumping over a cattle guard, causing a thoracic disc to project out, contuse his spinal cord, and bring about a prolonged weakness of his hind legs. He is probably 70% recovered now and has continued to perform his ranch duties with a fierce determination.

Buddy when younger

Buddy is now an old dog. Of late when we’ve gone on a walk (always an activity he enjoyed immensely), he has tended to stay behind at the house while Bella and Little Jack walk off with me.

Seems to me Buddy is smart enough to know that the exertion will only aggravate his discomfort and we will, after all, return in short order.

Buddy sleeps more now following his injury

Since most of my time has been spent in my position of relative comfort, that is on my belly in bed, Little Jack and Bella have taken over Buddy’s prior close association. They bookend me on the bed while Buddy lays across the room on his dog bed or underneath my bed. He simply doesn’t have the oomph to jump up on the bed any longer. Instead he seems to delegate this position of responsibility.

Bella on the left and Little Jack on the right

Buddy seems able to accept  changes required by his age and back condition. This lesson is not lost on his pained human companion.

Injuries, such as mine, provide lots of time to think. My friends and family have been wonderfully supportive. This provides more solace than I ever would have imagined.

My dogs also provide wonderful companionship and are rooting for my recovery. While I await a visit with the neurosurgeon, I am closer than ever to achieving recovery from my injury. Loyalty is never sweeter than when it arrives at a time of special need- and on four paws with a wet nose.

Reflections on Getting Older

“Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first is made.”

As mentioned in an earlier post,  the meaning of Robert Browning’s famous saying for a long time of puzzled me.

Is it life satisfaction that increases with age? Or is it that our thinking processes somehow affect how we react?

Psychologists have grappled with changes in the way we think as we age. Raymond Cattell developed the concept that general intelligence consists of two types: fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence. Its not that intelligence declines in older age (unless a dementing illness sets in), it’s that fluid intelligence declines while crystallized intelligence increases.

“Say what? What does this have to do with herding cows?”

Both types of intelligence increase throughout childhood and adolescence. Fluid intelligence, the ability to develop new problem solving strategies, peaks by age 40 whereas crystallized intelligence that comes from prior learning and experience doesn’t peak until the 60s or 70s.

Both types are important to overall intelligence. There is also some evidence that brain training games may benefit fluid intelligence.

The direct approach to understanding intelligence

Perhaps it is a greater reliance on crystallized intelligence that allows older people to better determine the veracity of an event/statement based on his/her longer experience. While this doesn’t always comport with what youngsters may believe or have experienced, it at least holds as a general rule.

“You better hope that your fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence will outweigh your lack of smell and hearing.”
Photos by Ramsey

When considering aging in humans and dogs, one thing of which I am certain is that dogs can model positive aspects of aging. For example Buddy (pictured above) awakens in the morning stiff and sore. He and I both take awhile to get going. Nevertheless when Buddy heads for the truck and his ranch duties he pulls himself together and goes after life with an incredible zest. He’s not one to give into his infirmities.

Within reason this is a life characteristic that I and other humans should emulate. While our physical and mental capabilities may not be what they once were, we should continue to use what we have to the maximum.

Thanks Buddy for your example and we shall grow old together as the best is yet to come.

May The Force Be With You

The well known statement from “Star Wars” that serves as the title for this piece has of late developed special meaning for me. Perhaps I am still under the emotional overhang of my father’s recent passing, but the ease by which he passed has meaning for me. Dad died at the age of 96-years peacefully and in his sleep. His force to live diminished in his final months to a point where he was no longer walking, then no longer chewing, and then even refusing to swallow liquid supplements. His life force slowly ebbed away.

Dad (John Howard Hutton) when his life force was strong

In juxtaposition with Dad’s dying process has been my observation of an unfortunate, recently born calf on our ranch. Now I am in no way equating the value of the two lives, only making a comparison of their life forces.

Newest bottle calf being fed by Trudy with his good-for-nothing, calf-stomping mother looking on

The calf was refused milk by his mother for reasons unknown. Not only that but she kicked the calf nearly to unconsciousness when he tried to nurse. Later the mother calf became spooked and backed up, stomping her calf. Frankly I thought she had killed it.

Nevertheless, the following morning the previous “calf carcass” took a full bottle of milk. What a surprise! He’s not developed normally but is still making slow progress. He has a left front leg injury, one of the several spots where his mother stepped on him. Our newest bottle calf refused to die and continues to gain weight and hobbles about to a limited degree. I sometimes have to provide extra lift for the calf for him to get onto his four wobbly legs. As he grows, this may become a serious problem.

Given his miraculous survival, we refer to him as Phoenix. He rose off the pasture where he was near death and now greets Trudy and me with his long eyelashes for which Madonna would be envious, lovely dark eyes, and enthusiastic sucking at the milk bottle that sustains his life.

Mythological Phoenix

He still is not guaranteed survival. It seems his legs are too weak at times to get him up or possibly too painful. His walking is unsteady and wobbly and Phoenix tends to fall on uneven ground.

Nevertheless, Phoenix possesses a strong life force. I suppose this has to do with his young age and strong survival instincts. Regarding my Father, I cannot help but believe that after 96-years and having lived a full life that his life force had diminished down to nothing.

Grandson Graham earlier today feeding a somewhat older Phoenix

I recall the answer my grandmother gave when I asked her as a child what it was like to get old. She said, “Tommy, you just get tired.” I think she was right. Increasing fatigue accompanies age and illness. In my experience as a physician, folks just kind of give up at some point and are ready to die. Age seems to have a lot to do with it.

In my recently published book, Carrying The Black Bag: A Neurologist’s Bedside Tales I tell the story of a little girl with Reye’s Syndrome who by all accounts should have died. Despite an absolutely horrible prognosis she lived and thrived. I believe her young age had much to do with her survival. The force was with her.

To my readers, “May the force be with you,” by which I imply continued strong life forces and may you enjoy vital life in the years ahead.

John Howard Hutton- In Memorium

I’ve been overwhelmed by the emails and card expressing condolences regarding my Dad’s recent death. These expressions of sympathy have helped and I thank you. Below I offer a bio that I wrote, much like what I published six months ago for my mother. I hope this might interest to some of you. I will soon return to more traditional topics for Views From Medicine Spirit Ranch.

The Life Journey of
John Howard Hutton
April 11, 1921 – June 14, 2017

     Howard Hutton, the only child of John Francis Hutton and Kate Frances (Lincoln) Hutton, began his life’s journey April 11, 1921 at his grandparent Lincoln’s home in Liberty, Missouri. He was two months premature and at birth weighed a mere three pounds. Howard was not expected to survive, being even too small for a crib. His parents instead bedded him down in a shoe box.

Howard later relished telling the story of how the local doctor, to stimulate his tiny heart, placed a few drops of whiskey into his mouth; an occurrence, he later claimed, that led to his fondness for distilled spirits.

When asked as a small child to introduce himself, he would respond, “Hoppy Hutton, three years old,” an endearing affectation to be sure, but actually resulting from his difficulty pronouncing his given name. The family moved to Kansas City, Missouri where Howard attended Central High School and where he was a good student. He also sang in the high school choir. Howard was an affable youth who enjoyed riding his bicycle and interacting with the teen and young adult group at the First Baptist Church in Kansas City, Mo. It was there he met his future wife, Adele Catherine Greenway.

Following high school Howard attended Kansas City Junior College. Howard and Adele shared a backseat in a carpool for KCJC and became better acquainted. Soon after they began to date.

Howard’s life journey then took him to the University of Missouri in Columbia where he studied Criminal Justice and Sociology. Adele followed the following year. Toward the end of the fall semester of Howard’s senior year, his plans to enter the field of criminology suddenly changed when on December 7, 1941 Japanese military forces attacked Pearl Harbor. This event rattled the structure of daily lives, altering myriad life journeys.

Following the dastardly sneak attack, Howard was filled with outrage and patriotic fervor. He joined the military, choosing the U.S. Army Air Forces. Howard found the idea of flying airplanes extraordinarily appealing.

The following May, he officially entered the U.S. Army Air Forces. His love for Adele amidst an uncertain and shifting world stage prompted him to hasten his marital plans. Howard proposed marriage to his “Chipper” who was then completing her junior year at MU. Adele accepted and they married June 20, 1942. Adele skipped her promising senior year of college to trail Howard to various military bases about the country. Such was her dedication and love for Howard that she chose to join together their life journeys. Both Howard and Adele considerably broadened their view of the world by living in multiple communities from California to the Gulf Coast and from Texas to the Dakotas.

Howard’s service during World War II consisted mainly of being an instructor pilot. How many of his trainees went on to demonstrate bravery and heroism in European and Asian action is unknown. How many of his trainees gave their country what in Abraham Lincoln’s words were “their last true measure of devotion” is also unknown. Nevertheless, Howard helped to weed out those unfit for flying and less likely to survive, and to train, to his best of his ability, those who went on to fight in the air battles of World War II. His good nature and boundless patience served him well throughout his assignment to the pilot training program.

His military journeys for initial flight training took him to Santa Anna, California and for primary basic training to Gardner Field in Taft, California. While in Taft, his daughter, Joan Adele was born March 1, 1944. He then took advanced training at Luke Field at Phoenix, Arizona and had many other military postings.

Howard requested transfer to B-29s, believing the massive, long-range bomber would play a pivotal role in concluding the war with Japan. He wished to contribute to achieving victory in World War II in a more direct way than via pilot training. He took his training in B-29’s most likely at Gulfport Mississippi, but was also stationed at Roswell, New Mexico, another B-29 training base.

As an aside, during training for the B-29, Howard and crew flew gunnery practice for fighters in which they would trail a target for the fighters to shoot at. He recalled receiving a request to slow up his greater than 350 mile per hour B-29 Superfortress that was powered by four Wright 3350 turbocharged engines generating 2200 horsepower, as the fighters couldn’t even catch him, much less hit the target. Whenever Howard related this story, he did so with a broad smile on his face.

Despite strategic losses in 1943 and 1944, the Imperial Japanese forces refused to capitulate. The U.S. Air Forces commanded by General Hap Arnold had tried to bomb Japan into submission with high altitude daytime bombing raids. This approach had proven largely ineffective.

Under the leadership of General Curtis Lemay, low altitude and incendiary night bombing began and wreaked a fiery havoc on the largely wooden Japanese cities. It also led to a greater loss of the B-29 bombers and their crews due to their vulnerability at low altitudes to anti-aircraft fire. More pilots and crews were needed to continue the air onslaught.

Following a prolonged B-29 bombing campaign, General Douglas MacArthur championed a straight up invasion plan (Operation Olympic), consisting of first attacking the southernmost Japanese home island, Kyushu. But rather than the 80 thousand defenders anticipated, Japan had in place nine divisions comprising some half million, well dug in defenders. Japan also held back over 900 hidden aircraft for suicide missions along with providing training for terrestrial kamikazes and for the piloting of suicide boats. The American invasion plan would likely have resulted in up to a million American casualties.

In 1945 large numbers of the technically advanced, long range B-29 Superfortresses began rolling off the Boeing production lines. The B-29 was the most expensive military project of World War II (even greater than the Manhattan project).

Production of the highly advanced B-29s had proved difficult due to the need for many technical changes. The airplanes were known to go directly from the production plants to the modification plants.
By the end of 1944 Boeing had delivered only 100 B29s of which only fifteen proved airworthy. Moreover, the initial losses of these bombers and their crews were high due to mechanical malfunctions, fires, and mission losses.

Following heavy bomber training in 1945, Howard and crew transferred to a military base in North Dakota for a final shakedown. About this time Howard ran into a thorny staffing problem with one of his crew that greatly perplexed him. Something simply did not click with the assigned co-pilot such that Howard made the difficult decision to remove him from the crew. Howard disliked having to take this action, but did so in the interest of crew cohesiveness. He then added a more capable and cooperative co-pilot to the crew. The eleven-man crew then worked together well. As a final humanizing gesture, Howard named his flying ship, the Kansas City Kate, in honor of his beloved mother.

The high-spirited and well-prepared crew of the Kansas City Kate finally received their departure orders for Tinian, a small island in the South Pacific to join in the bombing campaign of Japan. They packed items not destined to go overseas and shipped their boxes home.

As they prepared for their overseas journey, something unexpected occurred. Another B-29, the Enola Gay, based at Tinian and piloted by Colonel Paul W. Tibbits, dropped an A-bomb (Little Boy) on Hiroshima. This was followed three days later by the B-29 Bockscar, piloted by Major Charles W. Sweeney, dropping a plutonium bomb (Fat Man) on Nagasaki.

President Harry Truman from Independence, Missouri, not far from where Howard had been born, had ordered the dropping of the atom bombs. He did this to save countless American lives and in the hope of avoiding the calamity of having to invade Japan. One of the lives he saved may have been that of a young First Lieutenant B-29 pilot who hailed from nearby Liberty and Kansas City, Missouri.

Shortly after the dropping of the atom bombs, the Imperial forces of Japan surrendered. Howard in mock bravado offered an alternative explanation for the Japanese surrender, in which he claimed, “They heard I was coming and decided it was time to give up.”

After the Japanese surrender the U.S. military services began to reduce their ranks and Howard mustered out. Howard’s next journey returned him to Kansas City, Missouri. No doubt any disappointment at not having shipped out for the South Pacific was more than offset by his joy of going home. Not long after his homecoming his second child, John Thomas Hutton, was born December 26, 1945.

Howard likely pondered resuming a career in Criminal Justice as this was his original career plan, but the flying bug had bitten him badly. Unable to immediately obtain a job as a pilot, Howard supported his growing family by working as a postal employee and by selling lamps as a traveling salesman. He thought of himself as a poor salesman, his honesty and truthfulness reducing the effectiveness of his sales pitch.

Trans World Airlines (TWA) hired him only to furlough him during a downturn. Mid-continent Airlines, based in Kansas City, then hired Howard. It merged in 1952 with Braniff Airlines. Only then did Howard’s career as a pilot become assured.

Given the shortage of housing units following the war, Howard and Adele initially lived with Adele’s parents (Grace and Charley Corp), and Adele’s sister, Grace, and her husband, Verd Schwarz. The stone and brick house on Benton Boulevard was crowded, boisterous, and loving.

Howard eventually moved his family to a new veterans housing development in Kansas City that offered greater room and privacy. The family promptly and aptly dubbed the new development, “Mud Hill,” as no grass existed in any of the yards.

The family continued to expand with the births of David Howard on September 7, 1950, and James Philip on January 28, 1954, both in Kansas City. The family relocated from “Mud Hill” to a new planned J. C. Nichols development, in Prairie Village, Kansas. The development had meandering streets, large lots, big setbacks from the street, and provided ample public art and decorative fountains. This represented one of the first planned communities in the United States and the philosophy underlying it influenced such communities as Beverly Hills and Westwood in Los Angeles, and Highland Park and River Oaks in Texas.

Howard commuted to the airport in Kansas City, Missouri while his family attended school and settled in among the rolling hills of Kansas’s suburbia. A common site on Canterbury Road was Howard running, huffing and puffing, behind bicycles while teaching his children how to ride. Again his ability to train was evident.

In 1957 Howard realized in order to advance or perhaps even to maintain his career, he would need to relocate to Braniff’s home base in Dallas, Texas. He knew the magnitude of Adele’s sacrifice by leaving behind her extended family for the unknown terrain of north Texas. Nevertheless, his very career required he undertake this new journey. With effort and careful planning, Howard paved the way for his family, built a new brick home in Richardson, and moved his family during the summer of 1957.

Grace Schwarz, Adele’s sister, had a proud saying about the family’s attitude, “While our family might not have the millions, it still has the airs! “

Never was this truer than when the Hutton family arrived in Dallas during a terrifically hot summer. The family soon learned that Texas cars had the luxury of air conditioning, whereas their blue 1950 Buick Special did not. At Joan’s urging and with Howard’s acquiescence, the family would roll up their car windows and steam down Central Expressway or across Texas highways, acting to the passing cars, as if it were frosty cold inside. It’s surprising that young Jimmy survived this over-heated act of Hutton hubris.

The growing family created increased financial needs. To his credit but adding substantially to his sleep deficit, Howard routinely bid night flights because they paid more. He proved to be an excellent provider for “The Hungry Hutton’s” as he often referred to his family.

Howard was able to rear four children and pay for four bachelor degrees, a master’s degree, two medical degrees, and still was able to take his wife on many exciting trips about the world. Howard and Adele journeyed to pre-revolutionary Cuba, Europe multiple times, to the Soviet Union, to Egypt, to many South American countries, to the Caribbean, Hawaii, Japan, Korea, and Thailand among others.

Howard had few hobbies except boating, but he always possessed a high energy level. He used this attribute for extensive yard work, making additions to the house, volunteering in the schools, and assisting with his children’s recreational activities. Howard taught all four children to drive. During these risky ventures, his patience and even-tempered nature likely reflected his experience in the Army Air Forces Training Command when training even riskier novice pilots and at much greater speeds.

Howard also served as Asst. Scout Master, as an elder at First Presbyterian Church of Richardson, and supported a mission of the local Methodist Church to sponsor a recently arrived Vietnamese family. Howard taught the father how to drive a car. No doubt the Vietnamese man learned to corner with the wide, sweeping airplane-like turns characteristic of all who learned their driving skills from Howard. He also stocked shelves for a time at the Richardson Food Pantry.

In his career as a commercial Braniff pilot alone, Howard ably logged an incredible 26,942 flying hours and covered an estimated distance of 8,108,260 miles! To put this in perspective, he flew the equivalent of over 824 times around the circumference of the earth or over 27 round trips between the earth and the moon. What a journey!

Howard flew thirty-two years for Braniff International during which he piloted the following commercial aircraft: DC-3, BAC 1-11, DC-6, DC-7, DC-8, Convair 240, 340 and 440, Martin 404, Lockheed Electra L-188, Boeing 720, 727, 707, and the Boeing 747. He retired as an international captain flying the jumbo 747 to Asia and Hawaii. He was always at his best and proudest when he put on his snappy blue pilot’s uniform and donned his pilot’s cap ablaze with gold captain’s braid.

Howard retired at the mandated age of 60 and lived for the next 30 years in Richardson, Texas. He was asked decades after his retirement if he still dreamed of flying. His honest, heartfelt, and emphatic answer was, “every night!” No longer able to fly commercially, Howard continued his air journeys in his dreams.

He was serving as President of the Braniff Retired Pilots Association when Braniff International entered bankruptcy. He sacrificed much  time for his fellow pilots with long hours of uncompensated service, fighting to save their pensions. His efforts finally culminated in his testifying before the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, where his arguments proved partially successful.

Perhaps Howard Hutton’s most prominent personality characteristic was his amiability. He wanted to be liked and he liked other people. The writer of this bio cannot recall ever seeing his father truly angry. This emotional steadiness contributed to his success as a pilot and to his ability to get along with virtually anyone.

Due to failing health and advanced age, Howard and Adele in 2010 made a final move from Richardson to Athens, Texas and he entered South Place Nursing Home near the home of daughter, Joan.

In November 2016 with Adele’s earthly journey completed, she preceded Howard in death at the ripe old age of 95. On June 15, 2017 Howard died peacefully in his sleep at age 96, leaving behind his children; Joan, Tom, David, and Jim and his grandchildren; Jeff King, Heather King, Andy Hutton, Katie Hutton O’Neal, Christopher Hutton (deceased), Elizabeth Hutton, Margot Hutton, and Jessica Hutton. He also left behind former colleagues and friends. Howard, you shall be missed.

On June 15, 2017 Howard embarked on his final journey that is beyond all human comprehension. To paraphrase the poem “High Flight,” Howard slipped the surly bonds of earth for the last time and in smooth air, with the wind at his back flew toward the setting sun for his final flight west and… to touch the face of God.