After serving as a T-38 instructor pilot in the U.S. Air Force, Tom Deckard joined the faculty of WMU's Transportation Technology Department in 1974. He was initially assigned to teach flight and ground instruction in the aviation program. Throughout his 30 years of service to WMU, he also served as the Transportation Technology Department Chair, College of Aviation Faculty Chair and Director of Flight Education. Mr. Deckard advised students in all of the flight curricula as well. He is a recipient of the Teaching Excellence Award and the FAA Grand Rapids District Flight Instructor of the Year Award. Tom's commitment and dedication to students was never in doubt. He is highly regarded by past graduates as "the best" the aviation program could offer.
Since becoming a pilot in 1942, Sue Parish continues to pursue her lifelong passion for flying. An early member of the Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP) and an inspiration to pilots of all ages and gender for several decades, Sue was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal by Act of US Congress in spring 2010 for her service as a WASP in WWII. In her illustrious career, Sue co-owned Kal-Aero and later co-founded the Kalamazoo Air Zoo. She flew her signature pink P-40 Warhawk aircraft for more than a decade and performed routinely in air shows throughout the United States. The first woman inducted into the Experimental Aircraft Association Warbird Hall of Fame, Sue is also an inductee of the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame. A longtime supporter of the WMU College of Aviation, Sue's turboprop 425 Conquest flew many WMU presidents to destinations far and wide. The college has benefited greatly from her philanthropic support as well as the inspiration she provides to aviators of all ages.
Buck Weaver attended high school at the Western Normal School of Kalamazoo. As a student his talents were recognized and upon graduation in 1917, Buck was offered a job teaching metal work. Buck answered a call to military service and in March of 1918 entered the U. S. Army Signal Corps, Aviation Section. In 1926, Buck earned both his pilot and mechanic licenses. In 1939, Western established the Department of Vocational Aviation, listing Elmer C. Weaver as the sole faculty member. Between 1941 and 1945, Buck was the program coordinator for both civilian and military pilot training. After the war, he returned to classroom teaching. He retired from WMU in 1956 after 37 years of service.