Occupation: Retired Fighter Pilot, Retired Business Man
With age comes wisdom and experience. For Ed Rockwell, this reflects his desire to stay active, healthy and vital for as long as possible. And though Ed retired from his life as adventurer, fighter pilot and entrepreneur, his roles as husband, father and craftsman continue. With a lifetime of experiences behind him and a mind filled with memories, Ed is ready to tell his story to the world. He wants to show how he keeps living life despite a fairly recent diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
Right out of high school this young man served in the Army Air Corps. Later, during World War II, he served in the Air Force. His job was to train fighter pilots for the war effort. Flying brought him such joy that Ed ultimately opened his own flight school. He even built his own experimental airplane for the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA); a plane that was used for advertising in magazines.
To share his love of aeronautics and flying, Ed participated in the EAA Young Eagles program. This program gives interested kids, ages 8-17, an opportunity to learn about flying by accompanying a pilot in the cockpit of a general aviation airplane for free. Ed facilitated the love of flying in over 400 children. Eventually Ed decided flying would be his passion, not his career. He moved on from his flight school and started his own vending machine business. After 30 successful years, Ed sold his vending machine business and moved from New York to Florida with his wife and son.
Ed’s lifelong hobby has always been woodworking and this is something that continues to occupy his time. So as long as the weather is nice, Ed makes his way every Sunday morning to a local farmer’s market. With the help of his son, he sets up his stall and sells his woodcraft wares, primarily war memorial plaques, wooden puzzles and carvings. He chats with other war vets exchanging old stories and talks up anyone who comes by to peruse his crafts. Having a hobby that he loves keeps Ed busy, but being able to share what he makes with others brings a renewed sense of pride and accomplishment to a man who has done so much in life.
At one time Ed traveled the world, now he finds satisfaction living a quieter life. He spends more time with his family, including his grandchildren and great grandchildren. Despite his diagnosis, Ed remains passionate about his hobby and uses it to engage with others in the world.
I fought in World War II as a fighter pilot, started and operated several successful businesses, and built an experimental plane that was highly recognized. However, my growing family is my biggest accomplishment.
I try to learn something new every day. I always start the day by sitting and reading the newspaper. I also learn something new whenever I work on my wood crafts. I enjoy talking to people and learning from them as well.