We are saddened to report that long time President of the Air Power Museum Inc. (APM) Mike Gretz has “Gone West” after a short illness.
If you have visited Antique Airfield or attended the AAA/APM Invitational Fly-in over the last two decades you have no doubt seen and benefitted from the vision, planning and efforts of Mike, his wife Doris and many other of his family members.
For but a few examples;
Mike was instrumental in the planning, fundraising & construction of the APM Restoration Center.
His vision & knowledge of aviation history helped in the decision and planning of the themes and featured aircraft at every AAA/APM Fly-in since 2002.
He took charge of making certain the APM side of the AAA/APM Fly-in operated, was staffed (by volunteers) and ran smoothly. Those efforts included designing the Fly-in T-shirts, taking care of the Fly-in vendors, helping plan & coordinate the nightly movies at the Runway Cinema, scheduled & coordinated various Type club and AAA Chapter meetings in APM facilities, and along with his wife Doris, stocked and operated the APM Gift Shop among many, many other efforts.
Mike along with APM Secretary Steve Black originally proposed and helped coordinate the highly successful 2015 APM Capital Campaign Fund via GoFundMe.
But perhaps most notable was his dedication to the APM “Library of Flight”. Mike was instrumental & untiring in his efforts to improve the Library, helping make it known nationally as one of the premiere facilities/repositories for aviation history and research.
Mike also leaves a legacy of works not only here at Antique Airfield but in the model airplane world (he was inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame in 2007) and the shooting sports circles (NRA Range Safety Officer, Iowa DNR Shotgun Coach etc.). He gave of himself selflessly to all of these causes and more.
But now we need to ask all who’ve benefitted from Mike’s efforts to help give back to Mike’s family.
As so often happens, Mike’s passing has not only left a collective emptiness with his family and friends but also extensive medical bills that will need to be addressed by Doris & the family. We’ll let Mike’s son Dave (Maj. USAF ret.) explain;
Mike Gretz a beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend made a career of designing, building, and flying model airplanes and teaching his skills to others. He loved fishing, trap shooting, aeronautical history, and spending time with his family - especially his four grandchildren. He was a great and influential teacher who touched the lives of many.
On 11 December 2015, Mike was diagnosed with a large brain tumor requiring surgery. His son and daughter-in-law brought him from Iowa to Minneapolis for care - nearer to his family support network.
In his first two weeks at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, he endured four brain surgeries to drain fluid build-up and remove as much of the tumor as could be safely removed. On Christmas day, he received the devastating diagnosis of brain cancer. Specifically, a Grade IV Glioblastoma brain tumor, which is a very aggressive cancer tumor. It was located near the thalamus and brain stem, a critical hub of the brain.
However, while preparing for radiation treatment, it was determined that the tumor had already shown aggressive growth in the week after surgery. His physical condition also started to deteriorate during this time. Radiation at this point would significantly reduce his quality of life and potentially be fatal due to brain swelling while providing little benefit to restrain the growing tumor. Mike and his family made the difficult decision to not proceed with the cancer treatment. In 3 weeks, Mike and his family had gone from high hopes and expectations of some level of recovery to planning his move into Hospice care to maintain comfort for his last days.
Mike passed away on Friday Jan 15th surrounded by his loving family. His faith had been strengthened through his trial and experience. God has shown His righteous hand and continues to sustain Mike, his family, and his friends. We are comforted in our knowledge of where he is, wrapped in the loving arms of our Savior. Families can be together forever . . . that is our faith and our hope as we feel the grace, peace, and comforting love of our Heavenly Father.
In addition to the physical and emotional toll caused by cancer and time in the hospital/hospice, Mike's family will also face financial burdens. Mike's wife, Doris, is just finishing her recovery from surgeries to cure her melanoma cancer. She is also a breast cancer survivor. They continue to pay medical bills from previous problems. We are setting up this account as a way for friends and family to show their love and support for this hard working and incredible family who has touched so many lives and who means everything to us. No donation is too small. Together we can provide tremendous financial relief.
So there you have it. We hope all those who have benefitted from Mike & Doris’s efforts to “pay it forward” here at Antique Airfield through the years; will help the Gretz family with a contribution.
For those that prefer to send a contribution via regular mail, checks can be made out to "Doris Gretz" 15941 Elmwood Way, Apple Valley, MN 55124
Brent Taylor Stephen Black
President AAA Secretary APM