Lt. Col. Marvin Weed, 81, an aviation enthusiast

Lt. Col. Marvin Weed loved flying high above the clouds, piloting an airplane.

The irony of the situation turned out to be, his wife said, Lt. Col. Weed was afraid of heights when he was on the ground.

“He didn’t even want to be on a ladder,” said Betty Patricia Weed, of Stone Mountain. “It was really interesting.”

Lt. Col. Weed didn’t let his fear of lofty places keep him on the ground, or away from a childhood dream. He’d always loved airplanes, he grew up around the big machines, Mrs. Weed said. As a small child he would walk from his grandparents home in Minnesota to a nearby airport and watch planes take off and land.

“One of the stories I heard about dad was that one of his first words was ‘airplane,’ ” said Thad Weed of Loganville.

Lt. Col Weed took his love of aviation to the Air Force and eventually became an airplane mechanic. He spent 30 years in the service, including a year in Vietnam, Mrs. Weed said. While he was in the military, he got private flight lessons and earned his pilot’s license. When he retired in 1977, he and his wife moved to Stone Mountain and he became a flight instructor at the Peachtree DeKalb Airport.

“He loved teaching people to fly,” his son said. “It was one of the joys of his life.”

One of the highlights of his career as a pilot was a one-hour interview with Neal Boortz several years ago, when the radio personality was still on WGST AM 640, Thad Weed said.

"Just listening to his voice on that tape, you can tell how much he loved to fly," he  said of his father. "And Neal sounded like he was caught up in dad's excitement too. Dad's love for flying was contagious."

In March 2010, Lt. Col. Marvin Julius Weed had a significant amount of hip pain. He decided to have surgery so he could continue to do the things he loved, his son said. But there were complications with the surgery, and Lt. Col. Weed was never able to recover from the procedure. He died Sunday from complications of the operation. He was 81. A funeral service is planned for 11 a.m. Friday at Wages & Sons’ Stone Mountain Chapel. Burial will follow at Eternal Hills Memory Gardens, in Snellville, with full military honors. Wages & Sons is in charge of arrangements.

Not only did Lt. Col. Weed love soaring above the ground, but he enjoyed digging in it too, Mrs. Weed said. The husband a wife team created and maintained an award-winning hosta garden in their back yard, she said.

“He would create these walkways and paths through the garden,” she said. “He really liked being a part of nature and he really enjoyed the plants.”

Lt. Col. Weed put as much effort and care into his family as he did his aviation and gardening. He took the time to teach important life lessons, said his daughter Sheryl Weed, of Loganville. She said her father taught patience and tolerance of others, lessons that he continued to teach until the very end. Even as his heath continued to deteriorate, Lt. Col. Weed remained patient and encouraged his family to be strong.

“He really loved his family,” she said. “And we knew it.”