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Don C. Sykes

October 2, 1938 ~ May 7, 2019 (age 80)

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Don C. Sykes

October 2, 1938 – May 7, 2019

Former Resident of Kansas City, Kansas


Don C. Sykes, after a brave fight with Alzheimer’s disease, passed away on May 7, 2019 in the Hope Memory Care Center in Atlanta, GA.

Born October 2, 1938 in Kansas City, Kansas, he was 80 years old.  He was preceded in death by his father Abel Baxton Sykes, mother Grace Gladys Buchanan Sykes, and his older brother Abel Sykes Jr.

He grew up in Kansas City, Kansas and attended Dunbar Elementary School, Northeast Jr. High School, and graduated from Sumner High School.  After graduating from high school in 1956, he joined the United State Air Force in Fairfield California.   After leaving the Air Force, he attended the University of Kansas and received a BS Degree in Electrical Engineering in 1966.

Don had an outstanding career at United Airlines.  Starting as the first Black Engineer in 1966, he rose to be the first Black Vice President of Ground Operations and Maintenance in 1979. After working as an engineer for five years in San Francisco, he received his first promotion as a Technical Services and Planning Manager at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois.  Two years later, he received another promotion as a Manager of Reservations and Sales at Denver International Airport in Denver, Colorado.  One year later, he was promoted again to the Director of Avionics Maintenance at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, California.  Five years later, he was promoted to Vice President of Ground Operations and Maintenance at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois.  While moving up the corporate latter, he was supported by his wife (Loretta Nelson Sykes – Sumner High School Class of 1957) and his two daughters, Donna and Kim Sykes who were willing to relocate in order for him to take advantage of these promotions.  He always called them his best friends.

Later he worked for General Dynamics in San Diego, California and General Electric in Cincinnati, Ohio.

His hobbies were golfing, remodeling houses, computers, and traveling.

He is survived by his three children, Donna Gail Sykes; Kimberly Lynn Sykes and Don Sykes Jr.; grandson, Marc Anthony Ellis Jr.; nieces Dawn Carol Williams; Daphne Grace Scott and Leslie A. Spann; many golfing friends and other relatives.


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