Preben "PK" K. Bonde

April 14, 1921January 8, 2021

Preben K. “PK” Bonde of Longmont passed away January 8, 2021 at home. The first child of S. Kristen and Else Kauffmann Bonde, he was born in Aarhus, Denmark, and emigrated with the family and his 2½ year old brother, Erik, at the age of 4, arriving in Granada, Colorado in August of 1925. His father, known in Longmont as ‘Kris’, had been an instructor in the Danish Agricultural College. He had been conducting sugar beet research in the Ukraine when the Russian Revolution broke out, an experience that prompted him to bring his family to the United States.

In 1932 the family rented a farm outside Longmont. There his brother, Dan, was born. When the depression caused the owners of the farm to retake possession, the family moved for a year to Denver and then back to Southeastern Colorado where they managed a dryland farming operation. PK describes these as “the best years of a 13-year old’s life,” riding horseback across 3-4 miles of prairie, rifle in the saddle, to a one room school of seven children across eight grades.

PK began high school in Simla, Colorado, at 14, driving a ‘27 Chevy on prairie roads, picking up two others on the way, including a young woman whose name and red hair he still remembered.

After Simla, the family returned to Longmont, eventually buying a farm northeast of town. The family joined First Lutheran where PK was confirmed in 1939, having been baptized at the Aarhus cathedral as an infant. That same year he was graduated from Longmont High School.

PK worked a variety of jobs in and around Longmont from threshing crew to Mariotte produce, Tracey Furniture, and J. C. Penney. The outbreak of World War II gave him a future in aviation, training in Army Air Corps Flight Schools in California, receiving his wings and commission as a 2nd Lieutenant at Yuma, Arizona, and serving as a B-25 training instructor in Columbia, South Carolina, until he was shipped overseas. After three missions as a co-pilot, he was given his own crew, flying 42 missions (10 as lead) from England, Belgium, and France, in a B-26 his crew named the “Sweatbox.”

At the end of the war, PK returned to Longmont, married Dorothy Erickson, the young woman he had met while in flight training in California, and went back to work at J.C. Penney. His boss, Earl Faulkner, urged him to pursue his love of flying and seek employment with United Airlines. He began flying DC-3s out of Salt Lake, where his first son, Erik (Ken) was born. Ken would later die of a brain aneurism at the age of 22.

In 1946 PK was recalled to fly the Berlin Airlift out of Wiesbaden, and then continued flying VIPs around Europe and the Middle East, eventually being assigned as chief pilot for Eugenie Anderson, the ambassador to Denmark. In Copenhagen, his second son, David, would be born.

Returning to United Airlines, PK was first domiciled in Denver. 1954 saw both a divorce and a move to Los Angeles where, in 1956, he was promoted to Captain. There he met and married Gloria, Cadieu. Together they would have two sons, Alan and Rick.

In 1959 PK and family moved to Denver where he became a flight instructor for United, spending some time in France as an instructor. While in France, he was offered a management position with United in Washington D.C. The family moved to McLean, Virginia, until PK was promoted to Chief Pilot in Los Angeles in 1971. In 1977, PK became the Vice President of the Eastern Division of United and moved to New Jersey. Later he would become the VP of the Western Division and move to Menlo Park, California.

Following his retirement in 1981, PK returned to Longmont. He served as a consultant for the hiring of new pilots in Denver, had time for travel, and became active in Rotary, serving as club President and later as District Governor, visiting 45 clubs in East and Central Colorado. He and Gloria also began a practice of hosting their grandchildren for two weeks in the summer and traveling with them.

PK was a member of the Danish Heritage Society and supporter of the Danish Immigrant Museum in Elk Horn, Iowa. He was also a member of the Christian IV Guild in Aalborg, Denmark, formed in 1942 during the Nazi occupation, and a proud supporter of the Rebild National Park Society in Rebild, Denmark, fostering Danish-American Friendship.

In 2011, PK was inducted into the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame.

Over the course of his lifetime, PK flew into 29 countries, visiting 16 others and all 50 states. He flew 35 different aircraft from his first PT-22 trainer to the Boeing 747. He had an amazing collection of friends, stories and adventures, as well as the heartbreak of losing a son, Erik, at 22, a granddaughter, Anna, at 19, and his beloved wife Gloria in January 2017. He died at home after declining health and surviving an exhausting struggle with COVID-19.

PK is survived by his sons David, Alan, and Rick and their partners Lucy, Kathleen, and Stacy; five grandchildren (Megan LaCava, Clark, Dillon, Troy, and Tai Bonde); a great-grandson, Finn LaCava; and other extended family and friends. He is also preceded in death by his two brothers Erik and Dan.

PK asked that his memorial service be postponed until COVID-19 is no longer a threat and people can gather safely. Memorial gifts may be made to St. Olaf College for the Erik Kenneth Bonde and/or Anna K. Bonde Scholarship Fund and sent to the St. Olaf Development Office, 1520 St. Olaf Avenue, Northfield, MN 55057; or to the Rotary Foundation.


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Preben "PK" K. Bonde

have a memory or condolence to add?

David Bonde

January 18, 2021

Sue Bolton

January 18, 2021

What an amazing life P. K. had! I just knew him as a fellow Rotarian who always showed up with a smile and a perfectly pressed shirt, and bought Fishbowl tickets to support local charities. He will be missed by all of us.

Bruce Welander

January 13, 2021

Dear David, Alan, Rick and Families:
I was saddened to read of P.K.’s death the other day. I was privileged to have been one of his pastors for nearly two decades and always found him to be warm, friendly and supportive. Two of my favorite pictures from a trip to Luther Lands that I led in 2002 are of P.K. standing in front of, and then inside of, Tempelhof Airport in Berlin. It was great that he could tell us of his personal experiences in the Berlin Airlift.
My prayers are with you, his loved ones, that you may be filled with the peace and promises of Christ.
- Bruce Welander

Gary Elmquist

January 12, 2021

Dear David, Alan, Rick and families,
I am saddened to hear of your father's death. He and my father, Ray Elmquist, were born only a few months apart, grew up together, and remained good friends throughout their lives. I will always remember PK for being kind and friendly to me whenever I saw him, and I was honored to serve as organist for Gloria's funeral at First Lutheran Church. I remember her service as one of the nicest I have ever played for, and I regret that the COVID situation prevents all of us from being able to honor PK in the same way.

Please accept my sincere sympathies,
Gary Elmquist