Rudolf “Rudie” William Niemi
March 17, 1931 — November 12, 2015
Resident of Alamo, CA
Rudie was born in Wing, North Dakota and spent his early childhood working with his family on a farm outside Bismarck, North Dakota. In his early teens, Rudie moved to Northern California residing in several cities in the east bay. At age 17, before High School graduation, Rudie joined the Navy and fought in the Korean War on a destroyer. After serving his country for 3 years, Rudie received an honorable discharge in 1953 and relocated back to Northern California.
Once back in the U.S., Rudie recognized an incredible opportunity in the aviation industry. He began his journey by getting his pilot’s license, then became a flight instructor and finally joined the commercial airline industry in 1955. His first job landed him in San Francisco flying the Boeing Stratacruiser for Pan American Airways. Just prior to his first job, while at a drive-in restaurant in San Leandro, he met his lovely bride to be, Millie. They married in 1956. After years of flying out of San Francisco, Rudie and Millie had the opportunity to relocate to Guam where he flew SA16’s (float planes) in the Trust Territories.
While still in Guam in 1962, they had their first child, Dan. Five years later, they moved back to the U.S. establishing residence in Danville, CA, and had their second child, Jim in 1967.
In the 70’s Rudie’s flying career really took off. Beginning as a first officer, then captain with Pan American, he flew the 707 until it was replaced by the incredible new 747. From there, he captained the 747 out of New York, Los Angeles and finishing his captaincy in San Francisco in 1995 with United Airlines.
After his retirement from the airline industry, Rudie served 10 years as Secretary/Treasurer for the 100-Club of Contra Costa County, an organization that supports the families of fallen police officers and fire fighters.
In 2005, in an ironic twist of fate, Rudie was predeceased by his son Dan who was a San Leandro police officer killed in the line of duty. Rudie is survived by his wife, Millie, of 60 years, his son Jim and grandchildren, Ryan, Mitch, Blake, Gabrielle and Josh.A celebration of his life for family and friends will be held on Friday, November 20th from 11:00am – 1:00pm at Oak Hill Park located at 3005 Stone Valley Rd., Danville, CA. 94526.
As Rudie would say, “It’s not all that bad.” And “It only costs a little more to go first-class.” In other words, life is good and do the best you can.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to 100 Club of Contra Costa County, P.O. Box 773, Danville, CA. 94526 or your favorite charity .