Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Boone Aviation Community Loses a Leader and Friend

R.M. “Buzz” Lauritsen, Craftsman, Entrepreneur and Patriarch, Dies at 68

August 15, 1942 - July 18, 2011

Buzz, known as the “go-to guy” when in need of excellence in mechanical solutions, life-long resident of Boone, passed away July 18, 2011. He was 68 years old and suffered from dementia in his later years.

Buzz was born August 15, 1942, to Marvin and Bertha Lauritsen of Boone. He graduated from Boone High School, enlisted in the National Guard and later attended Grand View College in Des Moines, all before returning to Boone to assist and later run his father’s insurance business.

As a life-long entrepreneur, he began working in the family ice cream shop, in adulthood taking on the family insurance agency, and later alongside his family, founding Cleaveland Aircraft Tool. Striving for perfection led him to design and create solutions to mechanical challenges that were both functional and beautiful. Building and rebuilding everything from toasters, to clocks, to steam engines, to airplanes, gave Buzz master craftsman status in the minds of friends and family.

Much of Buzz’s life revolved around his love for aviation, beginning by flying RC models as a child, then piloting passenger airplanes in 1970. He built his first full size aircraft in the mid ‘70s, and a second into the late ‘80s. Buzz served as Commissioner of the Boone Municipal Airport for 18 years, from 1980-1999, as well as a judge of homebuilt aircraft for more than 10 years at EAA’s annual fly-in held in Oshkosh, WI. Buzz’s RV-4 two-passenger, fully-aerobatic kitplane won EAA’s Grand Champion kit build award in 1989 and the Wright Brother’s award in 1990.

Buzz’s other interests included rebuilding cars (Corvette, VW Beatle, Bernardi, Model A, many others), hunting, fishing, model trains, photography, guitar, ham radio, thunderstorms and gathering with friends for grill outs, bonfires, picnic club and the Elks.

He was preceded in death by his sister, Martha, and his parents, Marvin and Bertha. He is survived by his wife, DJ, two children, Mike and Jensie, as well as their spouses, Christina and Bill, and granddaughter Mikayla.

A casual Memorial Celebration will be held at the Boone Municipal Airport, north hangar, on July 21 from 6 to 8 p.m. Memorial donations may be made to the family with intention of supporting music therapy for dementia patients. The family would also like to thank all of the friends and family and community members who have extended support and prayers during this challenging process.

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