Patrick Phillips is the author of the Flyer’s Prayer. You’ll love all of his poems:
A Pilot’s Prayer
for David Andrew Niven 1912 – 2009
When this life I’m in is done,
and at the gates I stand,
my hope is that I answer all
the questions on command.
I doubt I’ll be asked of my fame,
or all the things I knew.
Instead, did I witness the rainbows
on rainy days I flew.
The hours logged, the status reached,
the ratings will not matter.
Did I notice the sun’s rays
on the lakes that scattered.
Or what about the droplets clear,
that spread across my screen?
And the twinkling eyes of student pilots keen?
How fast, how far, how much, how high? I won’t be asked these things.
But did I take the time to watch
the moonbeams wash my wings?
And did I see the patchwork fields
the mirrored lakes below?
Or the mountains high and velvet hills? Of these did I behold?
And when the goals are reached at last.
When all the flying’s done.
I’ll answer with no regret – Indeed! I had some fun.
So when these things are asked of me,
and I can reach no higher.
My prayer this day with hands extended, please welcome home this Flyer.
He was born February 14, 1912, in Crawford, Indiana, the third of six children to William and Mary (Ovans) Niven. He graduated in 1928, from Goodman High School at the age of 16. He worked on the family farm until his first job at the Goodwin Mill as a sawyer. He was proud of the fact that during the Depression, he was able to stand in line for two weeks and get a job at General Motors Truck and Coach at Pontiac, Michigan.
David learned to fly in 1937 and bought his first airplane the same year. He taught civilian pilot training in 1937, until the start of WWII. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1942, as Lt. Commander JG. During his time in the Service, he trained pilots in the last stage of flight school, flew transcontinental, was assigned as a pilot for the admirals, and finished his last 7 years in the Navy as a test pilot.
David married Alice Jeanne Bryant in December of 1945. He was requested by Admiral Byrd to fly a mission to Antarctica but declined the invitation, staying home for the birth of his first daughter. He retired from the Navy in 1947 and returned to work at General Motors until 1952 at which time he moved to Manawa.
He purchased the Manawa Gamble Store and ran it until 1976 when he retired. During his time in Manawa, he was a member of the Manawa City Council for four years, member of the Manawa Masonic Lodge #82 F&AM, Manawa Industries, Manawa Chamber of Commerce, American Legion and Central County Flyers. He continued his passion for flying until the age of 95 at which time he sold his plane.
Burial took place 1:30 p.m. Sunday, May 31, 2009, at the Dunbar Cemetery with graveside Military Honors.