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He had a passion for aviation

September 15, 2008|Gale Holland

Walter A. Fuller was in an unusually cheerful mood Friday, picking up the tab when the guys sent out for lunch at the air traffic control tower he ran at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank.

"He was a good boss, very fair, very sensitive to his employees," said Fernando Morales, who worked directly under him.

At midafternoon, Fuller briefed Morales on tower operations, then left a bit early for his Simi Valley home on the train, which he preferred, both to save gas and to "do his part in taking another car off the road."

"He was very knowledgeable and passionate about his career and aviation in general," Morales said.

Fuller, 54, grew up in Simi Valley and spent 15 of his 24 years with the Federal Aviation Administration at the San Francisco tower, the Burbank Tower, the Camarillo Tower, approach control in San Diego, and finally, back at the Burbank tower as air traffic manager, his supervisor, LAX tower manager Sherry Avery, said. "He was working with the union to make Burbank Tower a good place to work," Avery said. "He always had the best of intentions, and you can't say that about everyone."

Fuller was a private pilot and flew a rented plane out of Whiteman Airport in Pacoima at least once a month, Morales said. He also collected flight memorabilia.

He and his wife, Jennifer, with whom he had three children, enjoyed taking an RV to Carpinteria. He played on a community softball team.

Many of his employees, including Morales, waited up all night Friday "hoping something would come about." Now, Morales has ordered grief counselors for his shaken staff.

-- Gale Holland

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