Author Kurt Bryan and my son Tim have hiked together for several years on the hilly trails east of the San Francisco Bay. Their conversations would often dwell on Kurt’s great interest in Tim’s flying career. It wasn’t unusual for the discussions to gravitate to the years of Tim’s youth and the adventures of his father. The two started urging me to write a book about my life. I was retired, playing golf three or four times a week, and serving as president of a large ranch corporation in Idaho. I had passed eighty years of age and had no time to write a book. So, Kurt agreed to apply his writing skills to author this book about many of the adventures of my life.
I thoroughly believe that if you work hard and have the desire, you can succeed. My journey in life, commencing at age eighteen, did not take shape because of hard work. It might have been called “good luck” or “being in the right place at the right time.” But I prefer to look back on it as fate. It was fate of the best kind, which appears and reappears to this day. Thus, I chose the title Fate Came Calling, because fate has brought many positives throughout my life.
As you read my story, you will see where instances of fate guided my destiny in directions I had never anticipated. Although the words fate and destiny are often considered synonymous, I feel they are quite different. I believe fate puts opportunities in front of us, but our destiny is determined by the decisions we make and actions we take.
In January 1954, had I not noticed a Lloyd’s of London letterhead on a sheet of paper lying on my college advisor’s desk, or if he had not been called from his office for a few minutes, this journey would never have begun. Had a college student not answered a ringing pay phone in the dormitory hallway and left a note for me to call the Lloyd’s office in Chicago, it is very unlikely that this journey would have gotten off the ground.
Without giving away too much, my decision to return the phone call resulted in my participation in a historic overseas advance in animal husbandry and, as it turned out, a trip around the world. This extended adventure at age eighteen exposed me to people, places, and ideas that I otherwise would never have encountered. Each dream that passed through my head seemed to lead to a career as a military pilot. In turn, fate again stepped in to hand me a job as a commercial airline captain. I can’t overlook the fact that my job as a pilot flying international routes resulted in my meeting Ingrid Bakker in Germany. We were married thirty months later.
I have lived in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, and I have spent wonderful times in Australia.
In our nearly six decades together, Ingrid and I have been blessed with a dear family. Tim brought his wife, Caroline, into the family, and they have given us three wonderful grandchildren, Gentry, Garrett, and Kinnon. Brian and his wife, Drue, have added two little wonders, Talia and Peyton. My hope is that fate will always be as kind to them as it has been to me.
I can’t sit with each reader to bring life to my varied experiences. In my stead, Kurt, with his writing skills, will provide you with an enjoyable description of my journey. You are about to meet people in every country I visited, and you will have a chance to join in on adventures experienced around the world.
Warren K. Vest
Without a doubt, the greatest surprise of my life has been old age.
As I stand here watching members of my family enjoy themselves in my son Tim’s back yard, I am reminded again how unique and remarkable my life has been.
More than eight decades have passed since I was born in Louisburg, Missouri, on April 28, 1935. Back then, many families like ours worked extremely long hours on farms or cattle ranches; it was a gritty lifestyle, yet rewarding in ways that form your life for the duration. Responsibility, dependability, perseverance, and a strong work ethic are a few of the traits I acquired working on the farm.
Even now, as I watch my family enjoy a summer afternoon, I see hints of the totality of my life. I am thankful for the lifespan I’ve been blessed with. Yes, I am humbled again.
I hear two of my grandchildren giggling and running up the broad staircase behind me. Then, much like life itself, their innocent sounds dissipate.
Most folks I know would describe me as determined, honest, fair, serious, and relatively fun. I have lived most of my days the best way possible, but my shortcomings and ornery stubbornness have always been present.
The primary reasons for my achievements have, at times, doubled as the anchors hitched to my failures. I’m guessing it might be that way for most good people, and I’m comfortable with it. I’ve never dwelled on my defeats too much.
How did I end up becoming a World Airways pilot and a successful airline executive? I have spent much of my life traversing the globe with teams of dedicated crewmembers and thousands upon thousands of trusting passengers on board my flights. I accrued twenty-seven thousand flight hours as a pilot, a significant number by any stretch.
“Granddad, are you busy right now?” It was my grandson Garrett.
I smiled and replied, “Not at all. What’s going on?”
Garrett had a worried look. “Uh… I’m sort of at a crossroads in college right now, and I’m not sure what I want to do with my life. I’d like to ask you a few questions and get some advice.”
I was moved beyond words. Here was a vibrant, handsome, bright young man brimming with untapped potential, and he wanted my input. Somehow, I was able to control my emotions. In my professional life, some people had described me as daring. But now, talking with my grandson, I had to work to prevent my eyes from welling up.
I placed my hand on his shoulder and replied, “Let’s find a place to chat, and we’ll share some stories about when I was in college a long time ago. It’s amazing how fast time flies and how one unexpected event can change your life.”
Being Warren’s two sons and with children of our own, we are thrilled that our father was willing to convey to the author the many events of his career and life. The dedication and many hours he gave to this project will be greatly appreciated by our children and the generations that follow them.
Our dad has taught us much about life, especially the more important aspects of living a good life. His dedication to family and career has established an example that we strive to follow.
We hope the readers of this book will consider having the history of their parent or grandparent recorded to preserve family heritage. Many of you have probably said, “Oh, how I wish I had asked my grandfather about his life.” Hopefully, this book will inspire you to record a family member’s story.
If you would like to learn more about our father and his family, please visit the book’s website at www.FateCameCalling.com, where you will find pictures and more life recollections. Thank you for reading our father’s story.
Tim and Brian Vest