On Friday, January 12, 2018, James W. Arpey was buried. He died several days earlier after battling health problems for a number of years.
He was well known in the airline industry and worked for many years for Frank Lorenzo and Continental Airlines heading up the Technical Operations division and also Aircraft Sales. He was recruited away from Frontier Airlines by Lorenzo in the early 1970’s and he headed up Tech Ops for Texas International Airlines and then Continental after Lorenzo’s Texas Air Corp purchased Continental and merged the two airlines. After Lorenzo and Texas Air sold their interest in CAL in 1990, Jim resigned his position and accepted executive level responsibilities with the new Pan American World Airways working for CEO Marty Shugrue. He continued his work there until the new Pan Am shut down in 1998 and Jim retired.
Jim was well known as a leader and an executive and he helped many airline and aviation people in their growth as professionals including me. His smile and his personality were infectious and his ability to communicate was outstanding. Combined with a laser like ability to focus and a very high intelligence level, no wonder that his ability to lead and direct took him to the very top of the airline industry.
During Jim’s time in the airline business, turmoil was the order of the day and Jim was right in the thick of everything that was going on. In the eighties and nineties, TWA and Eastern and Pan Am…all major airlines…were shut down or sold as Robert Crandall, Frank Lorenzo, Dick Ferris, Don Burr, Stephen Wolf, and other airline executives changed aviation to become the industry that we now know. Jim worked for Lorenzo, Don Burr and Stephen Wolf and he certainly knew Crandall and Ferris as he worked to compete with their airlines on a day-to-day and year-to-year basis. He could be counted on to direct his operations in the achievement of outstanding results…regardless of how hard they were to come by.
But more importantly, he gained those results by caring for those persons who worked for him…by appreciating their efforts and by giving more on his part to achieve results than they were required to give on theirs.
Jim will be sorely missed by the many people he touched during his time on earth. No doubt, his family will miss him but the rest of us that knew him, laughed with him, and worked with him to achieve results will miss him just as well. We all lost a great smile, a strong laugh, a sharp wit, a mentor and a very good friend.
He was a lion of a man.