Back in the 1990s, I became friends with a man named Bruce Kennedy. I met him because he was the Chairman of the Board for Mission Aviation Fellowship, the ministry in which I served at that time. I had known of Bruce for some time before I met him. He was well-known in aviation circles as the President and Chairman of Alaska Airlines and Alaska Air Group. After retiring from the airline, Bruce decided he wanted to learn to fly as a pilot. Soon after he got his pilot’s license, he phoned me to ask if I would help him find an airplane to purchase. I located a pristine Cessna 182 in Anoka, Minnesota. He and I flew to Anoka to complete the purchase, then flew the airplane together from Minnesota to Washington State where he lived. During that flight he and I bonded deeply—but that’s another story. Fifteen years later, Bruce died in that airplane—but that is also another story.
As I got to know Bruce and his wife Karleen, I was drawn to them by their down-to-earth practicality. As a corporate titan, they could have chosen to live in seclusion and high-society—but they didn’t. I remember a conversation I had with Bruce about wealthy people. I remember it because of one specific comment he made. I can’t pretend to quote him, so I’ll just paraphrase. He said—my friends are the kind of people who leave oil stains on my driveway.
You see, Bruce and Karleen had a personal ministry to refugees.