John R. Delafosse (’72, DB) was passionate about aviation even as a young child and enjoyed a 40-year career as a pilot.
He also loved Embry-Riddle. He was a founding brother of the Sigma Chi – Eta Iota Chapter at the Daytona Beach Campus and helped design Embry-Riddle’s first university class ring.
In memory of her late husband, Teresa Delafosse established the John R. Delafosse Memorial Scholarship, which is aimed at helping aviation students with flight costs.
“You can drag banners along the beach behind a Piper Cub (John did), or be a freight dog (John was), become an Airbus pilot (John’s favorite job), a corporate pilot (his first and last real jobs), or anything else you can think of,” said Teresa. “My requirement is that your passion be so great, you’d be willing (almost) to fly for food.”
Born and raised in the Texas Panhandle, John spent his childhood building model airplanes and watching the planes at the local airfield. At age 16, he was washing and gassing airplanes at Tradewinds Airport in Amarillo in exchange for flying lessons. As a student at Texas Tech, he spent most of his time at the Lubbock airfield, building his flight time.
After serving with the U.S. Marines, John studied aeronautical science at Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach Campus, where he worked as a flight instructor and served as secretary of the Student Government Association.
Despite furloughs and other struggles, John never lost his love of flight and was a gifted instructor. After a variety of pilot jobs, he spent 14 years flying at Ozark Airlines, before being hired by US Airways, from which he retired at age 58. Unable to stay out of the cockpit, he worked for NetJets, then returned to the Texas Panhandle to fly a Citation-Excel for the D.E. Rice Construction Co.
John always declared he was going to fly until he died and his wish was granted, said Teresa. His death at age 64 from pancreatic cancer came just six weeks after diagnosis. He was still on the payroll as a pilot.
"I am indeed thankful and honored to be the first recipient to the John R. Delafosse Memorial Scholarship. It is a privilege to be recognized as part of our fellow aviators who are willing to do nearly whatever it takes to lift into the skies and remain aloft. I hope to preserve a passionate career in aviation just as Captain Delafosse did."
—Joe Ortman (left), inaugural Delafosse Scholar