Hurricane Katrina

Charles Everett Marsden, 80, Pass Christian

Charles Everett Marsden was a fly-boy. The impulse to leave terra firma behind to commune with the clouds had been in his blood since being a pilot during World War II.

"One of the last times I talked to him, he said that if he had millions, he would buy a ticket to go into space," said his cousin, Lee Igoe Bruce of Abingdon, Md.

But if flight left its indelible mark on his soul, the war did not.

"He had an absolutely quiet, gentle nature," said Bruce.

Though flight was his passion, along with wood working, his love for his wife, Ruth Rae Marsden, was his reason for being.

Theirs was a storybook romance from a different time. He was a recently returned veteran, she had just graduated from high school. They met on the steps of her uncle's house in Pennsylvania. After a two-year courtship, they were married. They lived in a trailer at Penn State while he got his aeronautical engineering degree. She worked as a waitress to put food on the table while he went back to school.

The years slid by. The Marsdens added to their family with two daughters. The group eventually settled in Pass Christian.

The marriage was solid, not because the two had so much in common, but because they were polar opposites.

"He was quiet, she was noisy," Bruce said. "He was understated, she was overstated. He was a blond, she was a brunette. But it worked."