James Donald Feil, 88, of Lasher Road in Selkirk, passed peacefully on May 17, 2020, at Albany Medical Center. He was born on August 21, 1931, and was the son of the late George William Feil and Elizabeth Grace Forbes Feil.
Jim was a top-notch electrician, and a member of IBEW Local 724. During the Korean War, Jim joined the Navy Reserve as a Seabee, ultimately becoming a Chief Petty Officer. Over the years, he worked for a number of contractors, including E.G. May, F.W. Newman, E.W. Tompkins, and Clifford Gray. Some of the projects that he worked on included the construction of the South Mall (now the Empire State Plaza), the construction of the New York State Thruway Authority building, and the conversion of the former D&H Railroad building into the SUNY administration headquarters. He also taught electrical school, for many years.
Jim was also a highly skilled pilot and flight instructor. He held a commercial pilot’s license, and was also a CFI, CFII, MEI, and MEII. He was certified to fly, and did fly, everything from a Piper Cub to a DC-3 (12,500 pounds). For decades, he taught many, many people how to fly, and was deeply involved in South Albany Airport. His daughter shared his love of flying, and he proudly signed her off, at age 16, to solo in a Cessna 150, before she had her driver’s license. Jim could also take a plane apart and put it back together, and had an intimate knowledge of aircraft systems, which enabled him to be an even better pilot and flight instructor.
He also founded Mall Airways, a commuter airline that served Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Ontario, and Quebec.
He and his wife were also accomplished bowlers. For 32 years, every Friday night, they bowled in the Delsmere Mixed league at Del Lanes in Delmar. Both of them regularly bowled in, and won, tournaments.
Jim also loved to travel. He and his wife took a number of cross-country camping trips, just the two of them and also with family. The only two states that they never visited were Alaska and Hawaii.
Jim was a very humble person, and never let his skills and accomplishments go to his head. He was also one of the most caring, giving people one would ever meet. Whether it was helping to fix an airplane or someone’s furnace, he gave freely of his time and expertise, never expecting anything in return. When it would snow, he would get in his truck and plow his own driveway, and then maybe two or three of the neighbors’, since “I’ve got the truck warmed up already.”
Jim is survived by his two children, Lisa Marie Feil and John Michael Feil, both of Selkirk, his brother- and sister-in-law Eric and Mary Bohnet, his sister -in-law Emily Wink, brother- and sister-in-law Robert and Ruby Kibbey, as well as many, many cherished nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his wife of nearly 67 years, Eleanor Hedwig Johanna Bohnet Feil, who passed peacefully on May 3, 2020.
A private gathering in his honor will be held at a later date, at the convenience of the family.