Apr 052005
Authors: Brian Park

Clair McMillen will be remembered as a devoted husband and respected businessman throughout the Fort Collins community.

"The only thing he loved more than flying was the love of his life, his wife, Janet," said McMillen's nephew John McMillen.

Clair McMillen, 72, died on Sunday after the plane he was flying crashed into a business building near Mulberry Street and Timberline Road.

"The two had just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last October," John McMillen said. "He just loved her so much."

The two moved to Fort Collins more than 30 years ago from Beacon, N.Y.

Clair McMillen, who was the majority owner of nearby Fort Collins Airport, 2200 Airway Ave., was an "avid flyer," his nephew said.

The plane collided into the parking lot of Poudre Valley Air Inc., 2416 Donella Court, at about 3 p.m. before sliding into the building, causing the fuel tank to explode and flames to shoot up in the air.

"Flying was a getaway for him," said Katherine McMillen, his nephew's wife. "He flew every chance he got and would go out for hours and fly around the Greeley, Loveland and Fort Collins area."

Clair McMillen primarily flew his plane recreationally.

"He owned the plane with his best friend, Steve Goldberg, and they would go up to Cheyenne for lunch, stuff like that," Katherine McMillen said.

Along with being majority owner of the airport, Clair McMillen and his wife owned the Best Western Kiva Inn, 1638 E. Mulberry St. John McMillan manages the hotel, and Katherine McMillen works there as well.

"The hotel became his dream," his nephew said. "What you see at that hotel is all the love that Clair and Janet put into it."

An autopsy that was conducted on Monday stated Clair McMillen officially died of massive head and neck injuries.

Poudre Valley Air is in the process of accessing the damage that occurred because of the crash.

"The extent of the damage was done by the explosion that happened shortly after the plane crashed," said Bob Weisser, president and co-owner of the company. "There is a lot of smoke damage."

Business has not slowed down since the crash and all offices are fully functional, Weisser said. On Sundays usually no one is in the building. Only one employee was in the building at the time of the crash and was not injured.

Weisser knew Clair McMillen and considered him a friend and colleague.

"It's a tremendous loss," Weisser said. "What we have here can be fixed and replaced but Clair's life cannot. It is a travesty and shame."

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