Orville Franklin Jenkins Jr., 88, of Willingboro, a pilot, airport manager, and insurance agent, died of kidney failure Monday, Jan. 23, at home.
His middle name linked him to a famous ancestor, Benjamin Franklin, his daughter Wendy Marousek said. Given his love of flying, she said, it was also fitting that he shared his first name with aviation pioneer Orville Wright.
Mr. Jenkins took his first plane ride when he was 5. By the time he was 12, he was accompanying an uncle, a pilot, on frequent flights. He earned his pilot's license at 16. While attending Germantown High School, he worked at Perkiomen Valley Airport and was a member of the Civil Air Patrol.
During World War II, he served in the Army Air Force, flying a variety of aircraft in New York, Texas, California, and Nevada.
After his discharge as a lieutenant, he became a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and was a corporate pilot at the Main Line Airport in Paoli and at Northeast Philadelphia Airport and was a copilot for Quaker City Airways.
He continued to fly business executives in the 1950s, when he was chief pilot and an aircraft salesman at Wings Field in Blue Bell, and later when he managed Bader Field in Atlantic City and then South Jersey Regional Airport in Lumberton.
He also flew his own plane for pleasure and would often fly past his house and tip his wings to entertain his children and neighbors, his daughter said.
In 1967, The Inquirer reported that the "veteran pilot skidded a twin-engine amphibious plane into a wheels-up landing in a pasture in Moorestown after running out of gas." Mr. Jenkins told the reporter the plane had a faulty fuel gauge. He decided to land wheels-up to avoid possible bouncing that might flip the plane over.
In 1970, Mr. Jenkins switched careers and became a Prudential insurance agent. He retired in 1994 at 71.
After he stopped flying, he would get together with J.P. Ray, a pilot and old friend, to chat about his early days in the air, his daughter said. He loved visiting the Air Victory Museum in Lumberton and donated aeronautical artifacts to its collection. He was a QB, a member of the Quiet Birdmen, an exclusive aviation club.
Since 1948, he had been married to Edna Beuerle Jenkins. He took her flying on their first date.
In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Jenkins is survived by daughters Patti Weir, Cindy Valenzano, and Karen; sons Barry and Wayne; two sisters; 12 grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.
Services are private.