Obituary: Vern C. Van Fleet Jr., 85, mechanical engineer, aviation enthusiast

Vern C. Van Fleet Jr., age 85, beloved husband to Claire Bruining Van Fleet, passed away peacefully at his home in Milford on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, surrounded by his loving family.

Born on April 2, 1927 in Patterson, NJ, he was the son of the late Vern Sr. and Rita Lucius Van Fleet.

A lifelong aviation enthusiast, Vern began his career with Curtiss Wright Aeronautical, then Marine Corp Air Wing in Korea. He then went to work as a mechanical engineer for Curtiss Wright and eventually retired from both Avco Lycoming and Sikorsky Aircraft. He grew up in Fairlawn, NJ and attended NYU and then earned his BSME and MBA from the University of New Haven.

Vern was never without a camera and liked to attend air shows and visit museums. He loved animals and would often patch up injured wild animals that his children brought home. He thoroughly enjoyed living in New England with all four seasons and enjoyed watching meteor showers with his son and caretaker Scott.

He was very meticulous in every detail of life and loved doing practical jokes, tricks. He was well known as the originator of the acronym list at Sikorsky.

In addition to his loving wife of 55 years, he is survived by his five sons, Vern III of Wolcott, Richard of Cheshire, Jeffrey of Ewa Beach (HI), Jonathan of Milford and Scott of Milford. He also leaves 15 grandchildren, Daniel, Julianne, David, Richard, Elizabeth, Christopher, Kevin, Jeffrey, Jason, Amanda, Nicholas, Rachel, Joshua, Cassidy and Melissa and 3 great grandchildren, Brianna, Lexi and Mason.

He is predeceased by two brothers, Charles and Paul.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Monday, March 18, 2013 at St. Ann’s Church, 501 Naugatuck Avenue, Milford, CT at 10:30 AM. Interment will immediately follow at All Saints Cemetery, 700 Middletown Ave., North Haven, CT 06473. Friends and family may call on Sunday, March 17, 2013 at Cody-White Funeral Home, 107 Broad Street, Milford, CT 06460 from 3-5 PM.

To leave online condolences, please visit our website at