August 19, 1938 - March 8, 2020
Dwight Lewis Small of Tucson, formerly of Watertown, passed away at a Tucson hospital Sunday, March 8, 2020, following a brief illness.
A family Celebration of Life will be held in Watertown at a later date.
Dwight was born August 19, 1938 to Lewis D. Small and Alma (Paulson) Small, in Watertown. He attended rural schools and graduated Watertown High School in 1956. He served in the U.S. Navy and, following his honorable discharge, attended SDSU before moving to California where he completed training as a commercial airline pilot.
Dwight became interested in aviation as a boy and worked nights and weekends while in high school to pay for training. At age 17 he earned his private pilot’s license.
Dwight married Marguerite Collins in 1962, and they had two daughters, Sheila Small and Susan Small.
Dwight began his 34-year career in commercial aviation in 1965 as a copilot with Flying Tiger Line. In less than five years he was promoted to captain. In 1989 FedEx purchased Flying Tiger, and Dwight flew heavy jets for another nine years before retiring. He captained many heavy aircraft including the Boeing 747 and the MD-11. He completed 597 crossings of the Pacific Ocean, accumulating 22,000 flying hours. He continued to fly his personal Legend Cub up until days before he succumbed to a rare and fatal disease.
Dwight married Carol Ann Hubbard at Napa, CA in 1987. They had been married 32 years at the time of his death.
Dwight is survived by his wife Carol Ann (Hubbard) Small and his daughters Sheila Small (Dave Rivera) and Susan Meader, and one grand-daughter, Erin Meader; his sister Donna (Ken) Yocom of Sioux Falls; and brothers Gayle (Dorothy) Small of Watertown, Rick (Sharon) Small of Watertown, Michael (Cindy) Small of Citrus Heights, CA, and Steven (Annie) Small of Lewiston, Idaho, and sister-in-law Dr. Donna Small of Aberdeen, SD. He was preceded in death by his parents, and four brothers: Larry Small, Roger Small, Roland Small and Dan Small.
Captain Small, in full command until his final day, with Carol Ann and his family.
Tributes Follow Below
To Capt. Dwight Small, a man of high integrity, a great pilot, and a mentor to every first and second officer he flew with over his memorable career, thank you Dwight for the honor to call you a friend.
Salute, Scott Mergele
When you are a Co-pilot, or in times past a Second Officer, there are captains that you come across who make an impression on you. Some of them so favorable an impression that you say to yourself. “When I grow up, I want to be just like him.” Dwight Small was just such a Captain, and will always be a role model I look up to.
It was over 40 years ago, early in my career with Flying Tigers, I was still “wet behind the ears” as some had said. We were on the second day of a trip preparing the plane to depart Anchorage for Japan. During the preflight I found something that I thought needed attention. I forget exactly what it was, but I found a mechanic and told him I thought it needed to be fixed. After sizing me up and down with a quick glance he disagreed. After all, I probably looked fresh out of high school and barely shaved and he was an Alaskan hardened mechanic who knew what-was-what on the DC-8. I persisted and we started to have more than a casual discussion about the item. He resisted, I persisted. The next thing I know he turned on his heel and said, “well, let’s go see what the Captain says!”
Hot on his tail as we ran up the ladder to the cockpit I was ready to tell my side of the story but was bared short of direct access and standing in the doorway as the mechanic relayed the item to the Captain before I had any chance to add my two cents. I do, very clearly though, remember Dwight listening to the mechanic, then slowly turning around looked at him and asking him. “What did the Second Officer say?” …. “Then do it.”
I probably thanked him for backing me up so quickly. I certainly hope I did. But right then and there I thought to myself, “when I get the chance to be in charge and the leader of a team, that’s how I want to do it.”
That was my first time flying with Dwight, but luckily not my last. He was always the gentleman, always a pleasure to work for and to work with. Even now after I’ve hung up my striped coat for the last time I often remember that day on the Anchorage ramp and I still want to be like him when I grow up.
Fair winds Dwight, I never got the chance to tell you personally but you will always be one of my heroes.
Anyone wishing to contribute to this page with archived pictures or testimonials about Dwight is encouraged to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.orgBack To Memorials