Peachtree City is saying goodbye this week to three men with deep ties in the aviation and business community who died in a LaGrange, Ga., plane crash Saturday.
Local homebuilder Mike Rossetti, 60; family physician Dr. Jeffery V. Curtis, 53; and flight instructor Willy Lutz, 69, were killed when their twin-engine Beechcraft Baron crashed at the LaGrange-Callaway Airport.
According to published reports, the plane stalled after trying to avoid another aircraft on the ground that was towing a glider, causing the plane to strike the ground nose-first.
The crash is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration.
The flags at Atlanta Regional Airport, long known as Falcon Field, were flown at half-staff Monday to honor the lives of the three men who perished.
A number of Dr. Curtis’ patients had left flowers outside his office overnight in a tribute to his expertise and caring manner cited by many.
Monday afternoon, Bill Flynn, a current member of the Peachtree City Airport Authority, recalled his longtime friends Rossetti and Curtis, who were nearly inseparable.
“They were almost like brothers: if you saw one, you saw the other,” Flynn said. “Both were at the top of the game in their fields … and very involved in the community and charities.”
Rossetti as CEO of Ravin Homes had taken leadership of the family business from his father Vince, who had established the company here as one of the top homebuilders in Fayette County.
Dr. Curtis founded the successful operation known as The Doctor’s Office which was recently purchased by Emory Healthcare as he pursued other business endeavors, many of which were undertaken with Rossetti, Flynn said.
“Both of them had very high integrity,” Flynn said. “They always lived by honor, courage and commitment. They always did the right thing. … They always did what they said they were going to do. You could take it to the bank.”
The two even owned their aircraft hangar at Falcon Field together, where they all watched the annual Great Georgia Airshow.
More than being well-respected businessmen, Rossetti and Curtis were also strong family men who loved their wives and raised very respectful children, Flynn said.
“The most important thing in their lives were their families,” Flynn said. “They both have superstar kids.”
In fact, the men have passed their love of aviation down to their sons, who are working toward getting their pilots’ licenses, Flynn said.
Dr. Curtis would call his dad every day on his way home from work “to tell him he loved him,” Flynn said. Curtis moved his parents down to Georgia to be near him: Directly across the street from his house, Flynn noted.
The pair were also generous in the community and in supporting charity work, Flynn said.
Local real estate developer Scott Bradshaw, who knew Rossetti from his tireless work on the Homebuilders Association of Midwest Georgia, recalled first meeting him about 18 years ago when Bradshaw sought support for the band at McIntosh High School. After spending about an hour with Rossetti on the “cold call” out of the blue, Rossetti provided a generous contribution, Bradshaw said.
“He was dedicated to the community and gave his time and financial resources in support of many worthwhile causes, usually behind the scenes,” Bradshaw said.
Rossetti was also influential when the association needed to support or oppose legislation impacting home builders, Bradshaw said.
“Michael Rossetti was a pillar of this community,” Bradshaw said. “His contributions will be long remembered and his presence missed. His death leaves a void in the Fayette County community that may never be filled.”
Curtis served on a variety of professional medical organizations and also was an adjunct professor in the Kennesaw State University primarily care nurse practitioner program and served as president of the Fayette County Exchange Club.
Rossetti also served on the boards of the YMCA, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and The Bank of Georgia among others.
Local chiropractor Dr. Rod Justice used to ride bicycles with Dr. Curtis and remembered meeting Rossetti for the first time in 1982 after first moving here.
“They were just extraordinary people, they did everything right,” Justice said. “… Both of those guys, they were nice and level, good people. Just good people.”
Justice extended his sympathies to the mens’ families as well.
“They most assuredly were an important part of the lives for a lot of people in this town, and our hearts just go out to their families. … It’s just a sad situation. We’re going to miss them.”
As for himself personally, Flynn will miss spending time with Rossetti and Curtis. They flew together, hunted together, broke bread together and navigated their way through life together.
“They were fun-loving guys, the most fun you could imagine. A great sense of humor, all we ever did is laugh,” Flynn recalled. “We just laughed and had a good time, and you can never fill that void. My memories will take care of that. … Just some great times we had together, and they will be deeply missed. I’ll never fill that hole in my heart but it was just great really to have the opportunity to spend time with them.”
Flynn said the families have appreciated the outpouring of love expressed by the community both in kind remarks and in the volume of food that has been provided in the keeping of a longstanding Southern tradition.
Dr. Curtis’ visitation is today (Wednesday) from 4-8 p.m. at Mowell and Sons’ Peachtree City location on Robinson Road. His funeral is Thursday at 11 a.m. at Dogwood Church in Tyrone.
Rossetti’s visitation is set for Thursday from 4-8 p.m. at Mowell and Sons in Peachtree City. The funeral service will be Friday at 1 p.m. at Peachtree City United Methodist Church. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Michael Rossetti Memorial Fund at the Salvation Army and Southwest Christian Hospice and to the Foundation For Mitochondrial Medicine at mitochondrialdiseases.org.
No information on Mr. Lutz’s arrangements was available at press time. He had retired from his flight instructor’s position at Delta but remained active in the local aviation community and as a grandfather as well.