Friedman Memorial Airport staff and aviation folks in general are mourning the passing of a beloved local pilot and conservationist. Robert Gray Stevens, born April 9, 1935, passed away on Feb. 15 in Ketchum after a brief illness. He was 85.
Stevens had a lifelong love affair with the sky. Anytime fair weather prevailed, he could be found aloft in the Idaho backcountry, at the yoke of his beloved Piper Cub. A Valley local since 1977, Stevens had purchased close to 20 acres north of Ketchum where he and his wife Carol made their family home.
The Valley was picture-perfect for the couple, surrounded by breathtaking mountains, ample skiing and plentiful backcountry airstrips. Opportunities for commercial office development abounded, and Stevens didn’t hesitate to take advantage.
He kept his plane at Friedman Memorial Airport where he noticed there weren’t any hangars to protect aircraft from the elements. So what does a developer with an airplane at an airport with no hangars do? Build some, of course.
It was supposed to just be six hangars, but demand eventually led to 35 hangars.
Stevens was a beloved fixture at Friedman Memorial Airport, flying two to three times a week, when the weather permitted. Clad in his usual khaki slacks, a red checkered button-down shirt and his trademark lightweight fiberfill jacket, he was easily recognizable around the field. As time claimed his once bushy head of hair, he added a ball cap to his “uniform of the day.”
Friedman Memorial Airport Manager Chris Pomeroy recalled his first encounter with Stevens, just shortly after he was hired.
“I can’t remember why Bob had ostensibly dropped by the office, but I quickly gathered he was there to ‘size-up the new guy’ that had just landed in the top position at his beloved airport,” said Pomeroy. “I could tell immediately he was definitely someone to be reckoned with—in a good way.”