Henry Atlee Dyson (1927-2012)

Henry Atlee Dyson
Henry Atlee Dyson

This was taken from the Tacoma News Tribune.

Henry Atlee Dyson (Hank) Atlee was born in Custer, WA on February 6, 1927, and passed away at his home in Eatonville, Wash., at the age of 85 on May 30, 2012.

He was born to parents Jacob and Eunice Dyson. He was older than his twin sister Alta by 15 minutes, as they joined their sisters Elnora, Dolly, and Helen, and brother Ernest. They moved from time to time but eventually settled in Eatonville, Wash., where he met his high school sweetheart and future wife, Glenna Sartell. He and Glenna were married December 22nd, 1949.

After high school Atlee joined the United States Air Force and served from 1949 to 1952, flying 100 missions in the Korean Conflict, and was awarded the Air Medal, Korean Service Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross. Shortly after leaving the Air Force, he began a 32-year career flying for United Airlines. He and Glenna bought a house and settled in Summit View in 1955. In 1956 their daughter Teresa was born, followed by son Keith in 1957. In 1968 they moved back to the family ranch in Eatonville, where they built a house with his brother Ernie and his wife Doris. The family had a unique relationship, as Doris and Glenna were sisters who married Atlee and his brother Ernie.

During those years after moving back to Eatonville, he decided to run and was elected to serve on the district school board, and did so for eight years. Atlee loved most anything mechanical, and through his life enjoyed not just cars and trucks, but also riding motorcycles (including several “Gypsy Tours”), and restoring and flying antique aircraft. One such plane was his much beloved 1929 Adcox Special bi-plane, known as the Student Prince. The familiar sound of the radial continental engine was often heard above the family home and surrounding area as he flew overhead to waggle his wings and wave at those below.

Atlee (or Hank as his aircraft buddies called him), and the Prince were air show favorites, and people were always happy to see him flying in for a visit. He was often known to show up un-announced at your doorstep, telling you to “hop in!” as he took you to the airfield and then for a thrilling ride in the Prince. Another of his life’s many loves was buying and restoring antique John Deere tractors. He became affectionately known as Pierce County’s “tractor and baler Doctor,” spending 40-plus years of summer seasons on the run from dawn ’til dusk, helping his friends and neighbors get their hay harvest safely in the barns.

Atlee and Ernie traveled uncounted miles together, always looking in the brush beside the old barns and out in the fields for that tractor nose or neglected baler chute that would stick out and say “come get me!”

As a Captain, he finally retired from the airline in 1987. Happy to have more time to travel, visit his friends, dig clams, fish in Alaska and enjoy his grand and great-grand children, a smile was never far from his handsome features. Atlee was a member of the National Rifle Association, the American Motorcycle Association, the Puget Sound Antique Airplane Club, the Antique Airplane Association, the Airline Pilots Association, and the 2 Cylinder Club. He was also a lifelong member of Immanuel Celebration (Baptist) Church in Tacoma, Wash., serving many years as a Deacon or Trustee and Sunday School teacher.

Atlee is survived by his wife Glenna, daughter Teresa, son Keith (Cheryl), 10 grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren.

4 thoughts on “Henry Atlee Dyson (1927-2012)”

  1. Atlee went to school with my aunt in Ferndale, Washington.
    We were at the Art Festival one year and Atlee came up and told me that he went to school with my aunt. I told him that he couldn’t have as she was from Ferndale and he said that he was born in Custer.
    Mike Shelley

  2. Keitha Crichlow

    Henry Dyson was my Papa… I am one of Teresa’s daughter’s, I had never seen this site till just minutes ago and its been many years since ive sat and read his memorial, thank you to who put this together.

    -Keitha

    1. Hello. And glad that you found the site. I put up the memorial because someone in town asked me to. He was well loved!

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