Obit: Klay, Chris (1923 - 1946)

Contact: Stan  

Surnames: Klay, Waldhart, Schmidt, Gusak, Marsh, Mertens

----Source: Colby Phonograph (Colby, Clark County, Wis.) 10/17/1946

Klay, Chris (1923 - 10 Oct. 1946)

An airplane crash late last Thursday afternoon at 4:40 p.m. took the lives of Chris Klay, Jr., 23, son of Mr. and Mrs. Chris Klay of Withee, and Galen Waldhart, 24, son of Mr. and Mrs. Chris Waldhart, of Stetsonville.

The crash occurred on the Alselm Schmidt farm about half a mile west of Dorchester, in Clark county.

Waldhart, the pilot, and Klay, a mechanic, had just returned on a flight from St. Louis, Mo., to the Abbotsford-Colby airport and had circled north as far as Dorchester to enable Waldhart to circle his home, thereby notifying his wife of their return and to summon her to the airport to meet them. His wife waved to her husband as he circled their home a few minutes before the crash.

Witnesses say that while circling the house, the plane, a PT-23 (Army primary trainer, manufactured by Fairchild) was in a tight turn when it went out of control into a spin, and, with its engine roaring, plowed earthward. Men, using saws and chisels, worked for several hours to extricate the bodies. The ship did not catch fire.

The bodies of the two young men were badly mangled and true identity was made by Johnny Gusak, close friend of the two youths, of Abbotsford, Wisconsin.

Both Klay and Waldhart were employees of the Peters airport at Colby and had ferried the plane back from St. Louis for Steve Marsh of Colby, an employee of the Western Condensery Company of Owen, who had recently purchased it.

Chris Klay was a graduate of the Owen high school and an exceptionally good football player during his high school days. He graduated with the class of 1941. During the war years he received his mechanical training while an employee of the Boeing Aircraft Corporation at Seattle, Washington.

Waldhart was discharged from the United States Army a 2nd Lt. in December, where he had received his pilots training. Two years ago he married Magdelen Mertens of Dorchester, and it was on their farm home just west of the village of Dorchester that the crash occurred.

Chris Klay was unmarried, while Waldhart was the father of two small children.



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