The Celebration of the American Dream.
David Ervin Mitzlaff
"Tiger Dave" was peaceably called to Heaven Monday, March 28, 2022
David was born October 5th, 1944, to Ervin and Betty in Ardmore OK. He moved with his family to Dolores, Colorado where he was brought up in a world of livestock and farming, where he developed a work ethic second to none. It was here where his passion for the sky began. His adventures with his horse and dog led him to look to the planes flying across the never-ending sky, saying to himself he would one day fly. After graduating from Dolores High School, he pursued his quest to fly, enrolling at Fort Lewis College. David’s mother and father sold their farm and moved to Fort Collins in 1963. Not long after, Dave transferred to CSU still in pursuit of his dream to fly. He joined the ROTC and committed to service in United States Air Force. He graduated in 1968. CSU was also where he met the love of his life and soon-to-be wife.
David and new bride Lynn begin their expedition around the world, living out of packed cars and suitcases crisscrossing the country. Dave always said he was lucky to have met Lynn. These two young love birds had hearts full of adventure, always wanting to explore and see the world. Those dreams come true for both. After the completion of pilot training in Phoenix, he was assigned to C-141’s and they headed to Altus, OK to complete training. He then traveled to his first duty station in Charleston SC in 1969. During this time Dave flew many trips around the world, stopping in countries like Japan, Pakistan, Vietnam, Greenland, and all over Europe. He was now that plane in the sky. Dave was then sent to Incirlik Air Force Base, Turkey in 1972 for another 2-year adventure. Lynn was just as excited as he was to experience a completely different world. After finishing his time serving in the Air Force, he headed back to Colorado in search of a career that would allow him to fly.
Spending over a year living in Denver searching for pilot opportunities, he was losing hope on a flying career. That was when he was offered a job in the FAA. It wasn’t flying, but it was close enough for the possibility down the road. So they packed the car and headed to Lewistown MT, where he worked at the flight service station from 75-77. A perfect fit for a cowboy from the Wild West. Not long after, he was offered an opportunity to fly for the FAA. His dream was finally coming true. This time it would send them to Battle Creek, MI for the next 35 years. Flying remained his passion over his entire work life.
With David’s career in the FAA kicking off and Lynn finishing her degree at Western Michigan University, it was time to add to the family. Not being able to have kids, they decided to adopt. He chose to be a father. In 1980, with great faith, a little luck, and the best of friends guiding them to Colombia, they meet their first baby boy that they would name Aaron David. Ohh, the Golden Years! Having a new baby around did not slow them down; they still had many adventures. They just included one more in the mix. Clearly, they had it easy, with Aaron being an angel (not!) and all. Two kids would be a cake walk if the second was like Aaron. Being fooled into thinking another boy would be a good idea, they began the process to adopt another blessed baby boy. Luck would have it that their beautiful baby was already born and was ready to go home sooner than expected. In 1982 David and Lynn added Michael Stephen to the family. The expedition of Mitzlaff’s just got a whole lot more exciting.
Dave raised his boys with example not just words. He expected that if you do something, you do it the right way and at the best of your ability. This included the Cub Scouts and the pinewood derby. Dave also loved watching Indy car races and ice hockey, and skiing, canoeing and bow hunting with his sons. But his greatest adventures happened while on his Harley, riding the entire perimeter of the US and logging three long distance trips to Alaska, usually by himself.
Dave was a lifelong member of the Lutheran Church. He practiced his faith in volunteer work on restoration projects in New Orleans after Katrina and in North Dakota. Grateful home owners have perfectly matched flooring thanks to Dave’s attention to detail.
Dave is survived by his wife of 53 years, Lynn, sons, Aaron (Kayla) and Michael (Sarah) and beloved grandchildren: Avery, Aubrey, Riley and Amelia. He was preceded in death by his parents, Ervin and Betty Mitzlaff.
A service will be held at 3:30pm on April 6, 2022 at Christ the King Lutheran Church, Durango, CO. Memorials may be sent to Mayo Cancer Research.